Smartphone applications have become synonymous with our daily lives. It’s a mobile app for all purposes: telling the time, monitoring your health (including mental), managing transport and food orders and much more.
These days, many people have become inseparable from their mobile devices, and “there’s an app for that” represents a ubiquitous statement about how dependent we’ve become on mobile-first software. Clicking on your smartphone’s home screen to select a dedicated icon for a particular service (or in the case of some ‘super apps’, multiple services under the same banner) has become almost like a reflex. And it seems every company is coming up with its own native mobile app.
Apps are an important growth strategy for modern businesses. It used to be that companies would have a website, then a social presence – now it’s a dedicated mobile app. Considering how transformative smartphones have been compared to previous communication devices—it’s like carrying a portable supercomputer everywhere in your pocket—the strategy becomes even easier to understand. And a study of the global market for mobile apps confirms this.
The Mobile App Market by Platform, Application, Revenue Model and Geography – Forecast and Analysis 2021-2025 Technavio’s report reflects an incremental growth of USD 653.91 billion over a five-year period between 2020 and 2025, with the compound annual growth rate averaging 20.65% during that time. The findings show that despite being a relatively mature market, mobile apps continue to grow in popularity thanks to the extremely high smartphone adoption rates in developing countries. At least a third of this growth is expected to come from the Asia-Pacific region.
This is what we already know. But what does the research data say is the most unreliable mobile application among the heavily downloaded apps on the market? A study by Uswitch.com of UK mobile phone usage and the 25 most popular smartphone apps revealed that Facebook is the least reliable mobile app, from the perspective of several factors such as reported frequency of outages per million monthly downloads, the volume of Google search results during such outages, and app review scores of mobile marketplaces such as the App Store and Google Play.
The Facebook app’s score was calculated, based on these factors, to be 1.5 out of 5 – making it the lowest-scoring mobile app of those studied. The Facebook mobile experience has 15 reported app issues on average for every million app installs per month. That’s basically two-thirds more than fellow Meta-owned app WhatsApp, which recorded an average of 9 problems for every million downloads.
Facebook is also far behind the popular app that experienced the second highest number of mobile app issues, YouTube. The Alphabet-owned video streaming platform had an average of 36 reported issues per million monthly downloads. According to the Uswitch data, of all apps, the YouTube app was responsible for the highest number of browser searches related to down – 673,500 in the past year.
Twitter came third in the unreliability ranking, with 195 reported app problems for every million monthly downloads – the highest number for this metric in the research. But Twitter received a whopping 86% fewer searches for its mobile app being down compared to social media rival Facebook, so the short-post social platform earned a slightly higher trust score of 2.54 out of 5.
At the other end of the spectrum, Zoom was the most reliable mobile app analyzed, with only 3 reported issues per million monthly downloads on average. This was somewhat surprising given the massive use of Zoom during the pandemic months – but reportedly only an average of 120 Google queries per month related to the app being down.
A separate Censuswide survey by Uswitch found that just over a third (34%) of 2,012 UK mobile phone users surveyed allowed their mobile apps to access their personal data. “When you install a new app, it will often ask for permission to access personal data on your phone, such as your camera, microphone and location. It’s important to be aware of what each app has access to so you don’t overshares or offers access to more information than it needs,” commented Catherine Hiley, Mobiles Expert at Uswitch.
Hiley noted that allowing permissions for mobile apps without reading through the privacy information could lead to cyber attacks and data leaks. And users should pay attention elsewhere as well. “There are several reasons why mobile app outages can occur, such as server issues, outdated software and cyber attacks,” Hiley noted.
“Apps that users have not updated recently may display outdated software and thus have a higher risk of being hacked,” she added. “These attacks can also lead to app crashes, so it’s important to make sure your apps are as up-to-date as possible.”