Top apps 2022: Music, Entertainment, Travel, Fitness, and Food
The top apps in most big categories seldom change, because it’s hard to outgrow the giants like Instagram, TikTok, Amazon, Snapchat, Facebook, Spotify, or Telegram.
Just looking at music, for instance, Spotify has about 115 million monthly average users — 60 million daily average users — and gets around 180,000 new app installs every single day. And that’s just iOS … the Android version of the Spotify app gets about double those numbers.
Hard to compete?
In fact, bordering on impossible, at least for new apps and services.
The reality is that with 14 million apps on Google Play and the App Store as of 2022 and 3,500 new apps every single day, no upstart app is going to come in and dominate the market in a category like Music overnight. It takes time, money, a great service, lots of luck, thousands of smart decisions, and ideally more than a splash of pixie dust. Even viral sensation TikTok took 2 years to hit the top charts in multiple countries. And even smash global hit Pokémon Go, perhaps the fastest-growing app of all time (260 million installs in the first 6 months) took 5 years to top $1 billion in annual revenue.
Recently we looked at the top 50 mobile games of 2022.
Now let’s check out the biggest and most interesting new players in 5 categories, using intelligence from both Data.ai and Apptopia and — straight up — some level of judgment between top downloads versus top grossing versus largest active userbase. Is there science and data behind these rankings? Sure. Fair warning: there’s also a touch of opinion because we don’t have perfect data on earnings and rankings of all these apps (more on that later). All data is from the United States.
We’ll check out these 5 categories:
Top entertainment apps of 2022 so far
None of the top 10 entertainment apps of 2022 so far are going to surprise you. Essentially, they’re all fairly well-known streaming entertainment apps from major American or global brands.
What was surprising to me, however, is the range of apps that supposedly all fit in the “entertainment” category … I’ve removed TikTok from iOS (it’s social on Android) and Mistplay from Android (it’s a play—to-earn game) to keep similar apps together. Where you might find surprises are in some of the competitors fighting their way up the ranks.
The current top 10 are basically streaming video apps, and for these top lists I’m leaning more on download ranks than top money-making ranks, because most of these will be pushing payments off-platform to maximize revenue.
|Top 10 entertainment apps, mid 2022|
Notice that Netflix — a paid service — is tops on iOS, while Tubi — an ad-supported free service — is tops on Android. Netflix’s coming ad-supported service might help it grow faster on Android in 2023.
Some of the newer competitors working hard to make it into the top apps in Entertainment include:
|Top 10 challenger apps in entertainment, mid 2022|
Top music apps of 2022 so far
Look, we all know who the big players are: Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Google with YouTube Music, Pandora, iHeart.
But there’s also a large number of significant players who aren’t quite as well known: Pocket FM, TuneIn Radio, Sirius XM, SoundCloud, and some that you might not expect, like Groovepad, which is a creator app for music and beats, or Smule, for karaoke, or apps like Cosmic Sounds or CitySounds for less conventional background or ASMR sounds.
Again, a lot of app monetization in this category happens off-store, so the top grossing lists aren’t necessarily great indicators of which apps are making the most money.
|Top 10 music apps, mid 2022|
It’s always interesting to see how high Google’s (OK, Alphabet’s) YouTube Music ranks in Apple’s iOS mobile ecosystem, and how high Apple Music ranks in Google’s Android ecosystem.
Shazam ranks fairly high in both the Android and iOS lists, but I’ve dropped it because it’s primarily used to identify music, not to play it. Also, I’ve tried to steer clear of purely music creation and beat maker apps, but attempted to keep in apps like Rap Fame that don’t only have the creator component but also have a heavy listening and sharing social experience. That’s why Groovepad, which ranks well in the official top lists, doesn’t show up here.
|Top 10 challenger apps in music, mid 2022|
I kept AmpMe in the list, even though it’s not specifically a streaming music app, because it’s a super-cool and innovative way to create a very portable sound system with significant volume and presence by essentially tying all you and your friends’ phones together to play the same music, synced to the exact same time.
Top health & fitness apps for 2022 so far
You wouldn’t be surprised by very many of the top health & fitness apps so far in 2022. Strava is well-known. Fitbit is a Google company and essentially the Apple Watch of the Android world. Peloton, Weight Watchers, Flo, and Noom are all, if not household names, nearly there.
AllTrails is an interesting app here. It’s for a very niche segment — outdoor enthusiasts who like to hike — but it’s the undisputed leader in its space. Interestingly, Android users seem to like hiking more.
|Top 10 health & fitness apps, mid 2022|
The other big sub-category in health & fitness apps, of course, is mental wellness. Calm and Headspace are the heavyweights in that sub-category, but up-and-comers like I Am – Daily Affirmations and Motivation: Daily Quotes are fighting for their space.
Interesting in a similar category: an AI friend in Replika, which you can see below in the challenger category for health & fitness. Everyone needs friends for mental health, and maybe — just maybe — AI can help with that.
Also interesting is Sweatcoin, a crypto move-to-earn play in the health & fitness category. I wasn’t a believer in this app initially, but since I work out and walk a lot, I recently downloaded it. What’s the worst that could happen … you get healthier? I thought initially that this app would be a complete flash in the pan, but it seems to be surviving the general crypto meltdown.
|Top 10 challenger apps in health & fitness, mid 2022|
Two other notes: intermittent fasting is a big deal right now, as you can see from several apps in the challenger category here. And, of course, the iHealth COVID-19 Test app is a reminder … we’re not done with this pandemic just yet.
Top food & drink apps for 2022 so far
Most-downloaded apps in the food & drink category are, I think, a good proxy for the apps that are making the most money. They’re not perfect, because while McDonalds is tops in downloads according to Data.ai, the average Grubhub or Uber Eats delivery is likely to be higher value.
But they’re indicative, because we’re not talking in-app purchases for food, unlike categories like games or streaming or health and fitness.
Note: I’ve kept McDonalds first because there’s no good way to get the number of orders or average order value for most if not all of these companies.
|Top 10 food & drink apps, mid-2022|
Apparently everyone likes McDonalds and DoorDash, but Starbucks is significantly more popular with Android phone owners.
Also interesting: meal-prep-kit brand HelloFresh is much more popular with Android users as well. And, while Chick-fil-A is hot for iPhone owners, it’s much less interesting, apparently, for Android owners.
|Top 10 challenger apps in food & drink, mid 2022|
One clear and obvious difference in food and drink apps is that some are delivery apps for any kind of food, while most of them are branded apps for specific restaurants that are likely to be overwhelmingly used as mobile-order-and-pick-up apps.
Delivery apps are making money (or losing money if they’re in growth mode and still enjoying a big bump in VC cash), while ordering apps are a different animal altogether: loyalty apps that also generate great efficiencies in business operations.
Top travel apps for 2022 so far
There’s something interesting going on in top travel apps.
If you happen to glance at standard top travel app lists, Uber and Lyft are high on the iOS side and entirely nonexistent on the Android side. The simple reason for this seeming insanity: they’re in the Maps and Navigation category on Google Play … probably because sometimes apps switch categories to have less competition so its easier to achieve a higher ranking. All well and good, but let’s be honest … that’s simply seriously odd. No-one opens Lyft or Uber to find the nearest pharmacy. So in this list I’ve included Uber and Lyft on the Android side as well.
(Their ability to switch categories tells you two things, by the way. First: they rely on paid user acquisition for growth, not organic primarily. And second, they’ve achieve such good brand recognition that when people go to the App Store or Google Play to find them, they don’t need to be found by browsing because people will simply type in their names.)
Once again, in travel the top-grossing apps aren’t a very good indicator of the top apps in the category: no travel company runs hotel, flight, or attraction payments via on-platform purchases through Apple or Google. So top free apps by installs is a fairly strong indicator of who’s winning.
|Top 10 travel apps, mid 2022|
Note: Google Play styles this category as “Travel and Local,” and so includes apps like Upside – Cash Back. I understand what they’re trying to do here, but I don’t see that app as a “travel” app and so have omitted it from the Android top list.
Ditto with Google Earth, which is perhaps unfair since it’s a great virtual travel app … and GasBuddy. On balance I did think scooter rental apps Lime and Bird made the cut, much on the same basis as rental car or car sharing apps like Turo.
|Top 10 challenger apps in travel, mid 2022|
As you’d expect, this list is dominated by major brands in hotel chains and booking services for hotels and airlines, with a sprinkling of transportation vendors and digital identity for travel.
VRBO is now styling itself as “verbo:” that’s how they’re pronouncing VRBO in TV ads now. Which reminds me of the first SXSW conference where Airbnb won an award.
I was present in the audience, and the MC of the awards show — a rich, famous actor who would never have stayed in an Airbnb, or ever imagined staying in an Airbnb (this was 2011 or so) — did a double-take on the name and eventually pronounced it “air-buh-nub,” to the delight of the more tech-savvy audience.
(This, by the way, is the sort of keen industry analysis you come to the Singular blog for.)
Top apps 2022: summary
Achieving a top spot out of the 14 million apps already on the two major global app stores and beating out the 100,000 new apps that show up every single month is a gargantuan task. So huge kudos to those companies — especially the challengers who aren’t from a multi-billion-dollar global tech company — who have managed it.
The one thing we know about mobile: the only constant is change.
Which means that top apps this year might not be top apps next year. And hope springs eternal for new entrants in all these categories.