THE Coronavirus is impacting every aspect of our lives, including our relationship with technology, as research shows the world is leaning on mobiles to an unprecedented extent.


As the virus spreads and governments respond, data shows we are turning more than ever before to our phones for information, work and entertainment and a link to the world.

New research from China, the first location of the outbreak, shows that after the city lockdowns began there in January, daily time on mobiles jumped to five hours on average for February - up 30% compared to the  2019 average. Italy, the country with the second highest concentration of confirmed cases, saw the second highest jump at 11%.

Big business?

As work from home was introduced in China, downloads and hours spent in business apps has rocketed. 

The first week of February was the biggest ever in the country for Apple Store downloads, with business and education apps spiking, including Zoom Cloud Meetings and DingTalk, according to research from mobile data and analytics platform, App Annie.


During the week of Feb 23, 761,000 downloads of business apps occurred across Apple and Google Play in Italy — marking the biggest week ever for the category; up 85% from the week prior and up 135% from the average weekly level of the previous year.


Concern for the global economy is reflected in the rise in popularity of financial apps, App Annie found. Japan, South Korea, the US and China saw the biggest uptick in time spent on them during the first week of March, compared to the last week of 2019 at 55%, 35%, 20% and 20% respectively.

Light relief?

To occupy minds and entertain, consumers are also turning to mobile games in a trend that surfaced in China. In February, the average weekly downloads for games soared by 80% in comparison to the average weekly downloads for the whole of 2019, with 63 million hits on Apple’s App Store.

Most popular?

Among the top 10 games overall are Slap Kings, Scrabble GO, Draw Climber and Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles.


Social media remains popular to allow virtual connectivity, but consumers have also been relying on video streaming apps to pass the time and create their own content.

In China, the already globally-popular phenomenon of TikTok - which plays short looping videos and allows users to make their own - has surged further.

App Annie note that the week of March 1 was TikTok’s biggest week ever in China, with users spending over 3 billion hours in aggregate in the app — up 130% from the weekly average in 2019.

Mental health?

The average weekly time spent in health, fitness and medical apps has risen significantly in badly hit areas already. Headspace, a mindfulness app, has seen a 90% increase in time spent on iPhones in America during the first week of March, figures show, while in China, time spent on exercise app, Keep, rose by 210%.


As the virus spreads, these trends are all likely to extrapolate globally.

An App Annie spokesman said: “As more countries and businesses take precautionary measures to flatten the curve of COVID-19, consumers stay home and self-isolate, we expect to see novel consumer behaviour emerge in nearly every industry.”