Published On: Wed, Dec 16th, 2020

This Week in Apps: The year’s best apps, 2020’s biggest downloads, a App Store’s newest hire

Welcome behind to This Week in Apps, the TechCrunch array that recaps a latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and a altogether app economy.

The app attention is as prohibited as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People now spend three hours and 40 mins per day regulating apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t usually a approach to pass idle hours — they’re also a large business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x aloft than those though a mobile focus.

This week, Apple and Google announced their editorially curated lists detailing a best apps of a year, and Apple also suggested those that were downloaded a most. Apple also finished a important new sinecure for an App Store purpose and non-stop adult a expected App Store Small Business Program to developers.

Best Apps of a Year

Image Credits: Apple

Both Apple and Google expelled their “best apps of 2020” year-end lists and there were some similarities between a two, as good as some differences. Both companies’ lists reflected a tough and stressful year 2020 has been, with everybody being stranded during home during a pestilence that altered how we worked, attended school, connected with friends and family, and entertained ourselves.

Apple and Google, as a result, both comparison during slightest one “de-stressing” app among their year-end winners. In Apple’s case, it was Endel, an iOS app that won for Apple Watch App of a Year. Google, however, awarded nap app Loóna a pretension of best app of a year.

Disney+ also finished both Apple and Google’s lists, a former as Apple TV App of a Year and a latter as a User’s Choice for app of a year. The new streaming use was a godsend for families with younger children, who mostly struggled in 2020 to keep kids entertained. New releases like Onward and Mulan in 2020 helped give families something to demeanour brazen to, while Marvel and Star Wars content, including new array “The Mandalorian,” were hits with streamers, as well.

Another pandemic-prompted choice was Zoom, that won as iPad App of a Year. Though Zoom was around before a coronavirus outbreak, it’s now spin a partial of a bland dictionary as an transmutable tenure for “online video meeting” — as in, “let’s do a wizz call about that.” The iPad app during slightest finished these unconstrained practical meetings a tiny reduction painless.

And home examination messenger Wakeout! spin Apple’s iPhone app of a year, as many people gave adult a gym due to coronavirus risks. The app’s discerning one-minute breaks helped users stay moving, even when stranded during home for days on a cot or operative on their laptop in bed.

Image Credits: Genshin Impact (screenshot around Sensor Tower)

Meanwhile, gacha-based movement role-playing diversion Genshin Impact won as “best game” of a year on both Apple and Google’s lists. While a asocial take is that a app stores wanted to indicate users to a outrageous moneymaker — a diversion reportedly warranted $245 million a initial month and scarcely $400 million in dual months on mobile — it also highlights consumers’ craving for console-like practice on mobile.

The game, however, has been heavily criticized for a gacha diversion monetization techniques, that yet common to games in China, Japan and South Korea, are fundamentally gambling mechanics. And addictive ones during that. But as a Wired news noted, some of this comes down to informative differences. U.S. users grew adult on cartridge games, not arcade games, where we were constantly inserting some-more income to keep playing. Western users usually aren’t as gentle with this “spend to keep playing” business model, that they feel is predatory.

Apple’s other tip apps of a year enclosed long-lived favorite Fantastical as Apple’s Mac App of a Year; Legends of Runeterra as iPad Game of a Year; Disco Elysium as Mac Game of a Year; Dandara Trials of Fear as Apple TV Game of a Year; and Sneaky Sasquatch as a Apple Arcade Game of a Year.

Google’s list also enclosed SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off as users’ choice for best game, and it highlighted a accumulation of tip titles in several gaming subgenres in a dedicated territory of a Play Store.

2020’s many downloaded apps

Apple also gave a demeanour into a “best” apps of a year, as dynamic by app downloads. The pestilence played a purpose here as well, creation Zoom a most-downloaded iPhone app of 2020.

Also of note, TikTok was a biggest amicable media app by downloads, brazen of all a Facebook-owned apps creation a list, including Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. Square’s Cash App strike No. 10, as a pestilence saw increasing approach for contactless payments and approach giving to people in need.

The most-downloaded apps and games of 2020 were, as follows:

Top Free iPhone Apps

  1. ZOOM Cloud Meetings
  2. TikTok
  3. Disney+
  4. YouTube
  5. Instagram
  6. Facebook
  7. Snapchat
  8. Messenger
  9. Gmail
  10. Cash App

Top Paid iPhone Apps

  1. TouchRetouch
  2. Procreate Pocket
  3. Dark Sky Weather
  4. Facetune
  5. HotSchedules
  6. AutoSleep Track Sleep
  7. The Wonder Weeks
  8. SkyView
  9. Shadowrocket
  10. Sky Guide

Top Free iPhone Games

  1. Among Us!
  2. Call of Duty: Mobile
  3. Roblox
  4. Subway Surfers
  5. Ink Inc. – Tattoo Drawing
  6. Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game
  7. Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles
  8. Brain Out
  9. Coin Master
  10. Cube Surfer!

Top Paid iPhone Games

  1. Minecraft
  2. Plague Inc.
  3. Heads Up!
  4. Monopoly
  5. Bloons TD6
  6. Geometry Dash
  7. NBA 2K20
  8. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  9. The Game of Life
  10. True Skate

Top Free iPad Apps

  1. ZOOM Cloud Meetings
  2. Disney+
  3. YouTube
  4. Netflix
  5. Google Chrome
  6. TikTok
  7. Amazon Prime Video
  8. Gmail
  9. Hulu
  10. Google Classroom

Top Paid iPad Apps

  1. Procreate
  2. GoodNotes 5
  3. Notability
  4. Duet Display
  5. Teach Your Monster
  6. LumaFusion
  7. Affinity Designer
  8. Toca Hair Salon 3
    9: Toca Life: Hospital
  9. Toca Kitchen 2

Top Free iPad Games

  1. Among Us!
  2. Roblox
  3. Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game
  4. Ink Inc. – Tattoo Drawing
  5. Call of Duty: Mobile
  6. Subway Surfers
  7. Dancing Road: Color Ball Run!
  8. Tiles Hop – EDM Rush
  9. Mario Kart Tour
  10. Save The Girl!

Top Paid iPad Games

  1. Minecraft
  2. Monopoly
  3. Bloons TD 6
  4. Plague Inc.
  5. Geometry Dash
  6. The Game of Life
  7. Five Nights during Freddy’s
  8. Human: Fall Flat
  9. Stardew Valley
  10. Terraria

Top Arcade Games

  1. Sneaky Sasquatch
  2. Hot Lava
  3. Skate City
  4. Sonic Racing
  5. PAC-MAN Party Royale
  6. SpongeBob: Patty Pursuit
  7. Oceanhorn 2
  8. Crossy Road Castle
  10. LEGO Brawls

Josh Elman joins Apple to concentration on App Store discovery 

VC Josh Elman announced this week he was fasten Apple in a purpose that will see him assisting business “discover a best apps for them.” In other words, app discovery.

Elman’s credentials includes RealNetworks, LinkedIn, Zazzle, Facebook and Twitter, and after changed into VC. Elman worked during try organisation Greylock in 2011 as a principal, and by 2013 he had spin a ubiquitous partner. While there, he invested in SmartThings, as good as amicable networks like (now a large No. 2 app of a year, TikTok), Nextdoor, Houseparty and Discord. He after changed to fast-rising fintech startup Robinhood and now, he’s streamer to Apple.

With an eye for what’s next, longtime user and VC Josh Elman gets pulled into Apple


  • Apple opens adult enrollment into a App Store Small Business Program. The module will revoke App Store commissions to 15% for competent developers with revenues underneath $1 million.
  • Google announced Android’s winter update will embody an stretched Emoji Kitchen in Gboard, auto-narration for Google Play Book though narration, a “Go Tab” in Google Maps for visit destinations, Android Auto shortly nearing in some-more countries, support for app pity in Nearby Share and Voice Access improvements.
  • Google launches a initial chronicle of Android Studio Arctic Fox (2020.3.1) on a Canary channel, along with Android Gradle plugin (AGP) chronicle 7.0.0-alpha01. The recover is also important for relocating to a year-based complement some-more aligned with IntelliJ IDEA, a IDE on that Android Studio is built. Going forward, a series intrigue will work like this: Year of IntelliJ Version.IntelliJ vital version.Studio vital version. The new chronicle of Android Studio includes over 200 improvements and bugs, including those in a formula editor, app investigation tools, blueprint editor and a embedded emulator.

Android’s winter refurbish adds new facilities to Gboard, Maps, Books, Nearby Share and more


  • Amazon will now let iOS users content Alexa to ask for things instead of regulating their voice.

Security Privacy

  • Twitter now supports hardware confidence keys for iPhones and Android.
  • Google Authenticator app for iOS adds a dim thesis and support for bulk 2FA comment transfers, useful for switching between devices.
  • Google launches Android Enterprise Essentials, an MDM for SMBs that will need their employees to use a close shade and encryption to strengthen association information and can remotely clean devices. It also prevents users from installing apps outward a Google Play Store around a Google Play Protect service.

Twitter now supports hardware confidence keys for iPhones and Android


  • iPhones can now automatically commend and tag buttons and UI facilities for blind users regulating Screen Recognition in iOS 14.
  • Android’s winter update, similarly, will deliver a new chronicle of Voice Access that will use ML to understand interface labels and buttons on devices.

iPhones can now automatically commend and tag buttons and UI facilities for blind users

Apps in a News

  • Google now lets anyone minister to Google Maps’ Street View regulating a Street View app and Android phone that supports ARCore.
  • Telegram is a initial third-party app to use Apple’s Announce Messages with Siri underline for AirPods.
  • Google adds a messaging underline each iMessage user dreams of: a ability to schedule sending of messages in Google’s Messages app.
  • Reddit reveals DAUs for initial time: 52 million.
  • Google Assistant can now respond to messages from WhatsApp, Google Voice and more.
  • Google Maps gets a Facebook-like news feed with business updates, internal reviews and more.
  • TikTok tests three-minute prolonged videos. (But we don’t need longer versions of a viral hits like M to a B).
  • Triller claims 321 million downloads and 65 million MAUs. (Former employees have indicted a TikTok opposition of inflating a numbers, that Triller denies.)
  • Evernote rolls out a redesign on Android. The updates embody a new note editor, faster hunt and softened navigation.
  • Google’s learn-to-code app Grasshopper is now accessible in Spanish.
  • WhatsApp will now concede users to set tradition wallpapers, adds loll wallpaper in some-more colors and adds new stickers.
  • E-commerce app Wish indicted of offered tawdry products. 
  • 7-Eleven adds a possess mobile wallet to a app to concede customers, including income customers, a contactless approach to compensate during a stores regulating their phone.
  • Match-owned dating app Hinge refreshes pattern and adds a “Standouts” underline to uncover users superb prompts and print prompts from their best intensity matches, and can answer with a new paid feature, Roses.
  • Quibi is unequivocally left now.

French administration suspects Wish of offered tawdry products


Image Credits: App Annie

  • App download rates have declined by 4% given 2015, though active rendezvous has grown.
  • Messaging app use is adult 13% (four-year CAGR), and users spend 67% some-more time in messaging apps than in amicable media apps.
  • Messaging apps that offer privacy facilities see, on avgerage, 30% some-more active users than alternatives.
  • Q3 smartphone sales down 5.7% in Q3 to 366 million.
  • Mobile selling climbed 25% on Black Friday to $3.6 billion. 
  • U.S. selling app downloads on Black Friday reached a record 2.8 million per Sensor Tower, or 2.7 million per App Annie. App Annie also pronounced selling selling app downloads surfaced 2.3 million on Thanksgiving and 2.1 million on Cyber Monday.
  • On Black Friday, Walmart was a No. 1 U.S. selling app download, followed by Amazon. On Cyber Monday, that was reversed, also per App Annie.
  • In-app income was 150% aloft on Black Friday than a normal of a prior 30 days, says AppsFlyer.
  • App Store and Google Play consumer spending surfaced $100 billion from Jan 1-November 29, Sensor Tower says.

US selling app downloads on Black Friday reached a record 2.8M installs

  • Salesforce buys Slack for $27.7 billion.
  • VSCO acquires a tech and organisation from the AI-powered video modifying app Trash to pierce serve into a video market. Deal terms weren’t available, though Trash was corroborated by $3.3 million.
  • Teen banking app Step raises $50 million. The app is TikTok star Charli D’Amelio’s initial startup investment. Other investors enclosed lead Coatue; returning investors from Stripe, Crosslink Capital, Collaborative Fund and Will Smith’s Dreamers VC; and celeb investors D’Amelio, Justin Timberlake and The Chainsmokers, Eli Manning, Kelvin Beachum, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Iguodala.
  • Ivanti acquired confidence firms, including craving mobile confidence organisation MobileIron and corporate VPN provider Pulse Secure. Ivanti bought MobileIron for $872 million in stock.
  • U.K. challenger banking app Monzo adds £60 million in funding.
  • AR gaming startup Krikey raises undisclosed funding, including from Jio Platforms. The association has lifted $22 million to date.
  • Wellory raises $4.5 million for a anti-diet nutrition app.
  • Airbnb to IPO with shares labelled between $44 and $50.
  • ESL app for kids Novakid raises $4.25 million.
  • Virtual aptness app Salut raises $1.25 million.
  • Video app Supergreat, a TikTok for beauty products, raises $6.5 million.
  • Mental health app Intellect raises undisclosed spin led by Insignia VP.

We attempted a Apple Watch Family Setup with a tween. They weren’t tender with a apps or a controls, though did like a Memoji. No Roblox organisation discuss on a tiny screen? Boo.

A tween tries Apple’s new ‘Family Setup’ complement for Apple Watch


Image Credits: Iconboard

If we find it too frustrating to use Apple’s Shortcuts to build your possess tradition icons, we can spin to Iconboard instead. This newly launched app lets we pattern a character for your icons and request it to all of your icons during once. It can even emanate invisible icons to give we a approach to space out equipment on your screen.


Image Credits: Cardlet

While I’ve been enjoying Punkpost’s tradition designs for when I’m too lazy…err we meant busy…to send my possess handwritten records and cards, Cardlet is prepared to give my go-to app a run for a money. Like Punkpost, Cardlet will send a genuine paper label on your behalf, though it adds a modern-day touch: The app includes a dark AR knowledge that brings a label to life when noticed with a camera.


Image Credits: Heynote

Some people don’t trust to-do lists, reminders or calendar notifications to always get a pursuit done. When there’s something we really need to remember, we hang it directly on a home screen. (Okay, this one competence usually interest to a tiny niche of scatterbrained users like me.) But if we have, in a past, also designed your possess proxy wallpaper usually so we won’t forget a super vicious appointment, a Android app Heynote, (hat tip to Android Police!) competence help. Instead of a widget or reminder, this app lets we put tradition content directly on your home shade as a tradition wallpaper. Doctor appt. during 11 AM? You can’t forget it when it’s there each singular time we demeanour during your phone.

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