More people than ever are installing Android and iPhone apps

The App Store on a phone screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock / BigTunaOnline)

It looks like both Google and Apple saw record-breaking numbers when it came to mobile app installs in 2021.

SensorTower measures the most popular app installs for Google and Apple devices, and in 2021 there was a 20% increase in users purchasing apps.

Many of the most popular apps appear to be social media apps and games, with TikTok, Facebook and Instagram being at the top of the most-installed charts, alongside games such as Honor of Kings and Coin Master.

However, we’re starting to see different ways in which we can access these apps, with Apple M1-powered Macs allowing iOS apps to be used and Chromebooks running Android apps. Windows 11 is also about to be able to download and run Android apps through Amazon.

With mobile apps coming to more operating systems, we may see a big change in SensorTower’s charts in a year’s time of how apps will be downloaded and purchased.

An App Store in more places

These charts give users a good idea of what apps were used across the year. With the global Covid-19 pandemic, people are using devices more in their homes as lockdowns became enforced, which would have influenced the charts from SensorTower in 2021.

But thanks to vaccines, users are going out again, trying different apps for different situations. This could lead to an increase in travel apps, for example, with users looking into what public transport they should use.

The MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) is a recent example that’s powered by Apple’s M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, which let you download previously-purchased iOS apps. This is because the CPU is the same architecture as used in the iPhone and iPad, and this has allowed apps to also run in macOS, as long as the developer has allowed for this.

This means that if you see an app on the iOS App Store, there’s a good chance that you can also use it on your Mac as well as your iPhone or iPad.

This could have a big influence on the charts that SensorTower creates each year. We use our devices in different ways in different places - for instance, an app you download from the iOS App Store may be more suited on your Mac. Games are a good example of this, with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City being available for iPhone and iPad, but can now be downloaded on an M1-powered Mac, so you can carry on your progress during a commute on the train for instance.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is also doing its own take on this, thanks to an agreement with Amazon.

Two iOS apps running in macOS 12 Monterey

(Image credit: Apple)

A Windows App Store fusion

Windows 11 was announced in June with a redesigned Microsoft Store, where you can download and install apps, much like you can in Android and iOS. But a surprise arrived in the form of Android apps from the Amazon App Store, which are also coming to the Microsoft Store.

While it’s in testing on the Windows Insider channels, where you can test features under development, it could heavily influence how the Android charts from SensorTower could appear this time next year. Users who have an Android phone could carry on their work or progress in a game on their Windows tablet and PC, as long as the app is available on the Microsoft Store.

Users have already found methods to install any Android app from Google Play on Windows 11, which showcases how other apps could be used in Microsoft’s software if the company went beyond the Amazon App Store agreement.

We’re in a time where mobile apps are about to expand to other devices in a big way, which could also encourage developers to create apps or update their existing ones to cater for these changes.

Both iOS apps in macOS and Android apps in Windows 11 throw down the gauntlet to see how developers can adapt to these upcoming changes. It’ll also be interesting to see how these new ways of using mobile apps influence next year’s charts.

Via TechCrunch

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider'. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a newsletter, 'Springboard'. He's usually found playing games old and new on his Steam Deck and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.