This Is the World’s Most Popular iPhone App—and You’ve Probably Never Heard of It

This Is the World’s Most Popular iPhone App—and You’ve Probably Never Heard of It

You have Instagram, YouTube, and WhatsApp on your phone, but unless you’re a Chinese teenager you’ve probably never even heard of, much less downloaded, the most popular iOS app of 2018.

It’s Tik Tok, known in China as Douyin, an app that lets you shoot, edit and add special effects and music to short video clips. It’s become a phenomenon in China this year, boasting 45.8 million downloads in the first quarter of 2018, according to data from market analyst Sensor Tower.

As an app publisher, Facebook still dominates the rankings, boasting 4 of the top 10 most downloaded apps, including their eponymous Facebook app, its Messenger service and acquisitions Whatspp and Instagram. But Chinese titans Baidu and Tencent are coming on strong, signalling an eastward shift in power in the digital world. 

Here’s a closer look at the most-downloaded iPhone Apps for the beginning of 2018.

10. Google Maps, 22.4 million downloads

Google’s map service is still outpacing the iPhone’s native (and much-maligned) Apple Maps.

9.  iQiyi, 22.6 million downloads

iQiyi is a YouTube-style streaming site developed by Baidu. Its 481 million users reportedly spend more than 5.5 billion hours watching videos on the platform each month. As a sign of iQiyi’s power in China, Netflix last year abandoned plans to expand their own streaming service to the nation of 1.4 billion and instead entered a licensing agreement with iQiyi.

8. QQ, 22.6 million downloads

Another Chinese app, developed by Tencent, QQ is an instant messaging service that also offers music, online shopping, gaming, microblogging, and voice chat services.

7. WeChat, 28.9 million downloads

Another jewel in Tencent’s crown, WeChat is a so-called “super app,” a one-stop platform for everything from social media to mobile payments. It boasts more than 1 billion active monthly users.

6. Facebook, 29.4 million downloads

The Cambridge Analytica scandal and declining trust in the platform hasn’t dampened downloads of the social media pioneer’s mobile app.

5. Instagram, 31 million downloads

Facebook’s billion-dollar acquisition of Instagram  6 years ago has seemingly paid off. The app once known for dreamy filters has become a photo and video sharing behemoth, with an active messaging services and a Stories feature that has crushed rival Snapchat. Downloads of the app now outpace those of Facebook itself.   

4. Messenger, 31.3 million

Since becoming a standalone app in 2011, Facebook Messenger has been a perennial on these charts. Its user base doubled between April 2015 and April 2017, reaching 1.2 billion.

3. WhatsApp, 33.8 million downloads

With one and a half billion users as of February this year, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world. Expect to see downloads increase as more users seek security in its encrypted messaging service, although though WhatsApp has been owned by scandal-hit Facebook since 2014.

2. YouTube, 35.3 million downloads

The stalwart video-streaming service is Google’s most popular iPhone app. Its dominance, especially in the non-Chinese markets, makes Google the second most popular publisher of iOS apps, after Facebook.

1. Tik Tok, 45.8 million downloads

It’s not a Kesha song; it’s a Chinese video-editing sensation, surging to the top of the app charts with 10 million more downloads than its closest competitors.

Image by Gauthier Delecroix/CC BY