Many of the Android
apps we’ve recommended aren’t popular in the wider community. Of
course, they’re all excellent—we wouldn’t suggest lousy apps—but often you can
file them into the “niche” category.
So we wanted to take a step
back and look at some of the all-time most popular Android apps in the Google
Play Store. These are the ones that Android’s two billion active users have
downloaded most frequently.
A Note on Stock Android Apps
We’re not going to include
apps that come pre-loaded on stock Android devices. This means we’re excluding
Google Play Services (5.959 billion “downloads”), Gmail (3.945 billion), Google
Maps (2.488 billion), Google News (2.341 billion) YouTube (approximately 5 billion),
and a few others.
We’ve used AndroidRank’s
data to determine these numbers. Now, that’s enough preliminary
info. Here’s the list!
4.119 billion downloads
Not everyone is happy though.
It has nearly 10 million one-star ratings. Perhaps it’s justified; the app is
bloated with pointless features that few people bother to use.
2. Facebook Messenger
3.408 billion downloads
The presence of Messenger in
second position reinforces the control that Zuckerberg’s empire has over the
smartphone app marketplace.
2.979 billion downloads
Do you notice a theme
developing? Facebook apps hold all three of the top spots. The world’s most
popular instant messaging tool has been under Facebook’s ownership since a $19
billion buyout in early 2014.
1.843 billion downloads
Instagram is yet another
Facebook-owned app, which the company acquired in 2012.
It has significantly fewer
negative reviews than its big brother, with just two
1.039 billion downloads
Finally, a non-Facebook app.
Whether Skype can truly claim to be the best video-calling service is open to
debate. However, after being the first such service that was widely adopted, it
continues to benefit from significant brand recognition.
6. Subway Surfers
1.025 billion downloads
At number six, we find our
first game—and it’s not Candy Crush Saga! Subway Surfers is an endless runner
game which sees you flee down a railroad in order to escape from a police
officer and his dog.
Subway Surfers is also the
last app on this list with more than a billion downloads.
833.858 million downloads
It shouldn’t be a surprise to
see social media dominate the most-downloaded apps. After Facebook and
Instagram, Twitter is the third most popular social app on Android.
8. Clean Master: Space Cleaner & Antivirus
833.739 million downloads
The top seven apps might not
be to everyone’s taste, but it’s hard to claim there’s anything wrong with
Clean Master is the first app
on this list that you should avoid at all costs.
Why? First, the
developer—Cheetah Mobile—is infamous for piling bloatware and nag screens into
its apps. Second, it doesn’t do anything useful. RAM cleaners and task
killers are actively hurting your phone.
9. Candy Crush Saga
805.826 million downloads
You probably thought Candy
Crush Saga would be the most popular game in raw downloads, but it comes in
Regardless, more than 800
million Android users love trying to line up different-colored candies. Maybe
it’s time to find a new hobby?
782.837 million downloads
Instagram might be stealing
all of Snapchat’s best features, but the latter still manages to hoover up more
than 150 million daily users.
However, as a percentage of
the total downloads on Android and iOS combined, that figure remains low. Is it
time to start worrying about the app’s future?
771.520 million downloads
It’s not all about social
networks and games. SHAREit is the first productivity app to make the list.
The app offers a way to transfer
large files between devices in seconds. According to the developer,
it’s over 200 times faster than Bluetooth.
12. Facebook Lite
731.282 million downloads
Now we’re back to Facebook.
The Lite version of the app is aimed at users with low-end devices (1GB or 2GB
of RAM) and those who only have access to 2G data networks.
There are a few subtle
usability changes, but all the main features are present and work as expected.
726.182 million downloads
Dropbox is the most popular
cloud storage service out there,
beating competitors like Google Drive, OneDrive, and iCloud. It lets you store
documents in the cloud, access them from anywhere, and share them with other
711.278 million downloads
As we mentioned earlier, there
are a lot of WhatsApp alternatives. We like Telegram, so it’s perhaps a
surprise to see LINE come in as the second most popular instant messaging app.
Asia drives much of its
popularity. It’s in the top five communications apps in Japan, Taiwan,
Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia. The app struggles to make the top 30 in most
European and North American countries, however.
680.635 million downloads
In contrast to LINE, Viber is
much more popular in the Western world. The app offers instant messaging, video
calls, 250-person group chats, and encrypted
592.048 million downloads
Flipboard is a curious app. It
doesn’t garner the same number of headlines as many of its competitors, but—as
the half a billion downloads prove—it’s hugely popular among users.
In case you don’t know, the
app collates news, conversations, and compelling stories around any given
topic, giving you a one-stop shop for the subjects you care about.
17. Super-Bright LED Flashlight
587.693 million downloads
Is this the most surprising
entry on the list? All Android phones offer a native flashlight feature these
Sure, Super-Bright LED
Flashlight provides nine illumination settings, but that doesn’t seem enough to
warrant almost 600 million downloads. What’s more, flashlights are one of
the categories of apps you shouldn’t download.
If your phone is old enough
that it doesn’t have a built-in flashlight, you can find other apps on Google
Play that don’t require any permissions or ads. While this one has ads, it
thankfully doesn’t ask for access to your contacts and location like many
Once again, non-European/American
users make up the bulk of the downloads. It’s the number one productivity app
in much of Asia, South America, and the Caribbean.
Download:Super-Bright LED Flashlight (Free)
18. My Talking Tom
578.344 million downloads
My Talking Tom is a virtual
pet cat. The app offers mini-games, collectible travel stickers, and
progression rewards. It’s fair to say that this is an Android app
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19. Google Translate
568.746 million downloads
You may wonder why this the
first Google app on the list. It’s because we’ve excluded so many pre-installed
Google apps. Without that distinction, Google would dominate the top slots.
Google Translate, however, is
not pre-loaded on stock Android.
20. Security Master
532.718 million downloads
Another app by Cheetah Mobile,
and one to avoid at all costs. In the Play Store description, terms like “Junk
Cleaner” and “Phone Booster” should immediately set alarm bells ringing.
The app offers a VPN, but
you’ll find far better alternatives out there. There’s also an antivirus, but
you don’t need an antivirus app on Android.