Many of the Android apps we recommend 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.
For something different, let’s 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 2.8 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 (10 billion “downloads”), Gmail (9 billion), Google Maps (6.9 billion), YouTube (10 billion), and a few others.
We’ve used AndroidRank’s data to determine these numbers. The numbers in parentheses denote the placement change from March 2020, when we last updated this list.
1. Facebook (+1)
7.073 billion downloads
It’s not surprising to see Facebook as the world’s highest downloaded app. Despite seemingly endless scandals, questionable privacy practices, and the #DeleteFacebook movement, it still reigns supreme.
Not everyone is happy though, as this app has 76 million one-star ratings. Perhaps it’s justified; the app is bloated with pointless features that few people bother to use.
Download: Facebook (Free, in-app purchases available)
2. WhatsApp (-1)
6.983 billion downloads
In July 2018, WhatsApp was third with 2.9 billion downloads. A year ago it had jumped into number one, but now it has slipped back down to second.
WhatsApp—which is the world’s most popular instant messaging tool—has been under Facebook’s ownership since a $19 billion buyout in early 2014. If you don’t fancy using a Facebook-owned app messaging app, try out one of the many WhatsApp alternatives.
Download: WhatsApp (Free)
3. Facebook Messenger (=)
5.327 billion downloads
The presence of Messenger in the third position reinforces the control that Facebook’s empire has over the smartphone app marketplace.
Messenger has grown in popularity over the last few years, with the increased availability of bots making the service more useful than ever. It’s down one place from July 2018 when we first published this list.
Download: Facebook Messenger (Free, in-app purchases available)
4. Instagram (=)
3.504 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 28 million (out of 121 million) giving the app a single star.
Download: Instagram (Free, in-app purchases available)
5. TikTok (New)
2.631 billion downloads
TikTok’s ongoing growth shows no signs of abating. The app, which lets users create and share short video clips, became immensely popular during the first half of 2020 as the COVID crisis forced people to stay at home.
It broke one billion downloads in July 2019 and has more than doubled in the following two years.
Download: TikTok (Free, in-app purchases available)
6. Subway Surfers (-1)
1.438 billion downloads
At number six, we find our first game—and it’s not Candy Crush Saga! Subway Surfers is an endless runner game that sees you flee down a railroad in order to escape from a police officer and his dog.
Download: Subway Surfers (Free, in-app purchases available)
7. Facebook Lite (-1)
1.933 billion downloads
And we’re already back to Facebook. The Lite version of the app is aimed at users with low-end devices (packing 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.
Download: Facebook Lite (Free)
8. Microsoft Word (+2)
1.895 billion downloads
Given the popularity of Word on the desktop, it should come as no surprise that the Android app has also found similar levels of success.
Keep an eye on the Microsoft Office apps—they will almost certainly shoot even higher when we next update the list.
Download: Microsoft Word (Free, subscription required for some features)
9. Microsoft PowerPoint (=)
1.655 billion downloads
Microsoft PowerPoint is the second consecutive Microsoft Office app on the list. You’ve likely used it at some point to create a presentation or slideshow.
Download: Microsoft PowerPoint (Free, subscription required for some features)
10. Snapchat (+1)
1.350 billion downloads
Snapchat concludes the list of the top 10 apps.
Instagram might be stealing all of Snapchat’s best features, but the latter still manages to rack up more than 280 million daily users, up from 240 million 12 months ago.
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 or does the slight increase in rank point to a possible revival?
Download: Snapchat (Free, in-app purchases available)
11. SHAREit (-4)
1.541 billion downloads
It’s not all about social networks and games with popular Android apps. SHAREit is the first non-Google 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.
Download: SHAREit (Free, in-app purchases available)
12. Netflix (New)
1.513 billion downloads
Netflix now has almost 210 million subscribers. It saw a massive boost throughout 2020, again, thanks to COVID. The service’s blend of original content and old favorites has proved to be a winning formula, and the growth is showing no signs of slowing down as we head through 2021.
It is the only video-on-demand streaming app to make the top 20.
Download: Netflix (Free, subscription required)
13. Twitter (+2)
1.301 billion downloads
It shouldn’t be a surprise to see social media apps have several entries in the list of the most popular Play Store downloads.
Twitter is now the fourth most popular social app. In 2018 it was third behind Facebook and Instagram, but Snapchat has also now leapfrogged it.
Download: Twitter (Free)
14. Flipboard (+6)
1.301 billion downloads
Flipboard is a curious app. It doesn’t garner the same number of headlines as many of its competitors, but as the 1.3 billion downloads prove, it’s hugely popular.
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.
Download: Flipboard (Free)
15. Candy Crush Saga (=)
1.142 billion downloads
You probably thought Candy Crush Saga would be the most popular game in raw downloads, but it comes in second.
Regardless, 1.1 billion Android users love trying to line up different-colored candies. Maybe it’s time to find a new hobby?
Download: Candy Crush Saga (Free, in-app purchases available)
16. Skype (-3)
1.124 billion downloads
Skype is a fallen giant. With the release of Windows 11, Skype is no longer pre-installed on the operating system for the first time in more than a decade. The business branch is shuttered from August 2021, and it appears that Microsoft Teams is now the company’s focus.
Expect it to drop out of the top 20 in 2022.
Download: Skype (Free)
17. Spotify (New)
1.081 billion downloads
It’s perhaps surprising that it has taken until 2021 for Spotify to make the top 20.
It is yet another company that has benefitted enormously from the COVID pandemic, with paid users jumping from 130 million to 160 million over the last 12 months. Indeed, the number has more than doubled since early 2017.
It has 360 million users in total.
Download: Spotify (Free, subscription available)
18. Dropbox (-1)
1.025 billion downloads
Dropbox is one of the best-known cloud storage services around. It lets you store documents in the cloud, access them from anywhere, and share them with other users.
Download: Dropbox (Free, subscription available)
19. Viber (-1)
909 million downloads
Viber offers instant messaging, video calls, 250-person group chats, and encrypted communications. The app is one of the most popular WhatsApp alternatives in Europe and North America. Asian users still prefer LINE.
It is the first app on the list that hasn’t yet broken the one billion downloads mark.
Download: Viber (Free, in-app purchases available)
20. LINE (-1)
874 million downloads
LINE is the fourth-most popular instant messaging app on Android, behind WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Viber.
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.
Download: LINE (Free, in-app purchases available)
The Most Popular Android Apps: How Many Do You Use?
So what have we learned from this tour through the 20 most popular Android apps as of July 2021? Our conclusions are thus:
- Claims of Facebook’s demise are always premature.
- Entertainment subscription services were the big winners; expect the trend to continue.
- We finally lost Cheetah Mobile’s Clean Master. The app was as high as eighth in July 2018. If you’re still using it, we recommend uninstalling it now.
These Android apps are extremely popular, but they also compromise your security and privacy. If you have them installed, you’ll want to uninstall them after reading this.
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