Which Apps Can’t Americans Live Without?

October 19, 2020

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Mobile Phone | Social Media | Youth & Gen X

AudienceProject Indepensible Mobile Apps Oct2020Even after being hit with a myriad of controversy ranging from the mishandling of personal data to a recent advertiser boycott, Facebook remains the mobile app that Americans can least do without. However, a new report [download page] from AudienceProject shows that its place in the hearts and smartphones of US consumers is threatened by Instagram.

Some 17% of consumers ages 15 and older named Facebook as one of the three apps they can least do without. Closing in on Facebook is Instagram, with 13% share of respondents. The gap between these two apps has narrowed this year after two consecutive years of Facebook being at 21% and Instagram at 11%.

And, while the battle between Facebook and Instagram goes on at the top of the top-10 list, another Facebook-owned app has crept onto the list, just as another one is close to falling off.

WhatsApp, which was only used by about 1 in 5 American adults last year, moved up five spots to #8 on the list. In the meantime, Messenger, which occupied the #6 spot in 2019, fell to #10 this year.

Elsewhere on the top-10, the Gmail and YouTube apps held on to their spots at #3 and #4, respectively, again this year, while other apps did some shifting around:

  • Twitter: up 2 spots to #5;
  • Chrome: up 5 spots to #6;
  • Google Maps: up 1 spot to #7; and
  • Amazon: up 1 spot to #9.

Instagram Wins Over Youth

Although Facebook is the app Americans on a whole can least do without, the story is much different when broken down by age. Instagram, which is used more than Facebook by youths, tops the list for respondents ages 15-35.

Indeed, 15-25-year-olds, in particular, are enamored with the app — 27% named it as one of the three apps they can least do without. Facebook is all the way down in the #5 spot after YouTube (#2), Snapchat (#3) and Twitter (#4).

By comparison, for individuals older than 35, Facebook is at the top of the list of apps they’d be hard-pressed to do without, with Instagram falling further down the list as the age groups progress. In fact, Instagram doesn’t fall within the top-5 for individuals 56 and older.

More Than 8 in 10 Americans Use Facebook-Owned Social Media

Americans may feel they would be least able to do without the Facebook app on their mobile, but when it comes to social media usage, YouTube has taken the lead. In 2020, 72% of Americans use YouTube (up from 68% in 2019), edging out Facebook, which has been at 71% for the past two years.

Once again, the stark difference in usage can be seen among individuals ages 15-25. Only half of those in this age group use Facebook, while slightly more than three-quarters (77%) use YouTube.

AudienceProject points out that 83% of Americans use Facebook-owned social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and/or WhatsApp), with 81% using Facebook and/or Instagram alone.

To see which apps are most indispensable in other countries, the full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Findings are based on US respondents from a Q3 2020 survey fielded among more than 16,000 respondents ages 15 and older.

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