Google Play downloads hit 28.3bn during lockdown

It’s always hard to get an exact figure for app and game downloads, but 2020 has definitely got researchers looking into those install counts. Millions across the world are spending more time indoors, online and on their smartphone amid the coronavirus lockdown. It’s meant, according to most research companies, a continued trend in the number of app downloads to mobile phones.

Now, according to data gathered by SBS, there’s been a new record in the number of downloads among Android users during the third quarter of 2020. Some 28.3bn downloads of apps and games – three times higher than than App Store – have been monitored. That’s a 31% jump year-on-year and compares to just 16.7bn downloads in 2017.

This year has seen a record number of downloads in both the Google Play and Apple App Stores, driven, as we know, by a big uptick in apps usage through the coronavirus lockdown.

In addition, the amount of apps available has increased. Google Play now has some 2.7 million apps (as of the second quarter). That’s a 5.85% increase compared to the previous quarter. Meanwhile, the Apple App Store has around 1.82 million available apps, which is actually a 1.2% drop compared to the first quarter of 2020.

Unsurprisingly, gaming apps were the most popular category in the Google Play app store. Some 13.49% of available apps fall into this and education apps ranked second with a 9.11% share. Games riding high in the charts currently include Roblox, Bazooka Boy, Draw Duel, Among Us, Stair Run and RacerKing. However, there’s also high-rating Education apps like Teach your Monster to Read, Pepi Hospital, Candylocks Hair Studio and Construction Vehicles. Meanwhile, in the “Sports” category, football streaming apps are at the top of the charts as more people stay with the action or get tips for their football betting at the same time with the likes of Betway88. Sites like this will let you bet and watch live matches, so Sports sites and apps like Betway88 give an added attraction to potential customers who are stuck at home.

What we shouldn’t forget is the amount of video calls we’re all doing. These, especially in the “early days” of the lock down, were seen to be essential for maintaining our social circles. Zoom calls quickly became a “thing” and we’re still seeing “Home Pub Quiz” games being performed on a weekly basis, even months on. Games like HQ Trivia, Popcorn Trivia, QuizUp and QuizzLand have helped to provide a lot of the questions. Now we’re perhaps using the likes of Facetime or WhatsApp video calls even more, and – although we’re apart – we’re effectively inside other homes, interacting and chatting for hours no end. For kids, this is especially important. They don’t fully understand why they can’t go and play in a big group outside, especially when it’s something that comes so naturally at school. So, with a video call they can instead see all their friends on either a smartphone or TV screen. It’s not quite the same, but it at least keeps them connected and they can see friendly faces.

Perhaps the biggest increase has been in the “Entertainment” categories though. With the world locked down, streaming apps like Disney+, Netflix, Prime Video and BBC iPlayer have seen big increases in their download counts, as people search for something to pass the time when they’re not gaming. Content, though, can be a little trickier to come by. Big TV and movie studios have struggled with the lockdown and social-distancing restrictions, resulting in less movies being available. Studios have taken new approaches to this, ensuring that stars are shot at different camera angles and re-promoting more “classic” movie content which, although not recent, is still popular amongst viewers.

Whatever way you look at it, smartphones have been a very important part of our lockdown lives. Even those who previously only used their smartphones for basic communication have dived in – with the elderly and less “tech savvy” customers using them to keep in touch with friends, relatives and for making the enforced downtime a little more enjoyable.