The Pandemic Year in Mobile Apps. Research

Sunday, November 21

If you’re like most people, mobile apps are a part of your everyday life. Whether it’s playing mobile games or chatting with your family and friends in messengers, we can’t seem to get enough of these convenient little programs. Especially now, when the pandemic made us stay at home and look for new ways to entertain all alone. Let’s look closer at the pandemic year in mobile apps.

The report conducted by Global Wireless Solutions offers an in-depth look at consumers’ behavior during the first year of COVID (March 2020 – February 2021). Their daily mobile activities showcase how the pandemic has changed their interest and how do people spend their quarantine days.

GWS study highlighted 6 categories of apps that consumers use on a daily basis. These are social media, finance management apps, lifestyle, video & streaming apps, mobile gaming, and sports.

Since not all people have the same preferences, GWS looked at “power users” for these categories as well. Power users are people who spent 20% more time on apps than the national average on the category.

Let’s take a closer look at how people were using mobile apps during pandemics.

Finance Management Apps

The pandemic has led many people to find new ways of managing money.

According to the study, men are using finance apps more than women during the pandemic and they lead this trend even farther with their unique digital dependency on funding management tools for personal use at any time anywhere.

GWS highlights that power users of financial apps spend 20 more min per day on their phones compared to the previous year. They also increased the time they spend on financial apps by 77% during the pandemic year. The most popular financial apps include Cash App, Robinhood, and Freshebt.

The Pandemic Year in Mobile Apps. Research - Financial Apps Report | Power Up

Social Media

Social media has become a way for Americans and people across the globe to keep up with family and friends, as well as entertain themselves. The usage among every generation increased over time. Even the representatives of the silent generation, who are over 70 now, use social media apps more actively to keep in touch with family.

The Pandemic Year in Mobile Apps. Research - Social Media Apps | Power Up

GWS report reveals that power users of social media apps spend 31 more minutes per day on their phones. The most popular app is TikTok (people spend 358% more time on TikTokcompared to pre-pandemic year), Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Surprisingly, those active users of social media apps spend less time on dating apps. According to the report, during the pandemic year, people spent 24% less time on dating apps.


The amount of people who turned to food delivery services and online shopping during the quarantine period is staggering. Online shopping via sites like Amazon has increased, as did the usage of food delivery services throughout the world.  Gen Z-ers seem more inclined than other generations do right now when using lifestyle apps such as UberEats, Doordash, Amazon, and other local apps.

Power users of lifestyle apps spend more time on lifestyle apps and online shops. They also use social media apps more actively compared to the previous year.

Lifestyle Apps Usage Increase - 2021 Report | Power Up

Video & Streaming Apps

A study shows that users watched 42 minutes of mobile-device streamed content each day in 2021. Boomers were second only to Gen Z in video app usage growth during the pandemic year. The most popular video and streaming apps include YouTube, Twitch, Netflix, Disney, and HBO MAX.

Power users of video apps spend an average of 156 minutes per day watching videos and films. Hence, they spend more time on their smartphones – 26 more minutes, according to the GWS data.

The Pandemic Year in Mobile Apps. Research - Video Apps _ power Up

Mobile Games

Multiplayer online gaming served as a much-needed connection point for many during the pandemic. Discord, an app designed specifically to connect gamers and facilitate chats over voice, text, or video messaging saw usage soar due in large part to people turning towards it as their favorite way of communicating.

The use of multiplayer online games skyrocketed among those who were feeling isolated because they couldn’t speak face-to-face with others.

Active users of mobile games spend 19% more time on their mobile phones. According to the research, 80% of the time spent on games can be attributed to only 10% of games available. The most popular ones are Township, Among Us, and Pokemon Go. Over 50% of users play these games 5 days a week and more.


The sports app boom has come crashing down due to the pandemic, with major leagues shutting down and canceling games. In fact, only GenZ representatives were using sports apps more actively than before the pandemic.

Power users of sport-related apps are spending more time on social media and financial apps, and less on sports apps – GWS. They spend only 3 minutes a day checking on sports apps.

The Pandemic Year in Mobile Apps. Research - Sports Apps | Power Up

Data results are based on GWS’s OneMeasure Consumer Panel (OMCP). This opt-in panel of mobile app users and content consumers measures their network performance 24/7, whenever they use the internet. The data collection period lasts for 7 days a week in order to get representative data.

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