AS Coronavirus has gripped the world, altered economics and transformed daily lives, we have all leaned on mobile phones to connect, work, learn, play and escape, with new end-of-year analysis showing that our reliance on mobiles has in fact been accelerated by around three years.


What does this mean?

Analysts say that as a result of the pandemic, we are now two to three years ahead of schedule in terms of moving toward a “mobile-first” world.


Time spent on mobiles has surged?

With more people using mobile apps and spending greater time in them daily, mobile phone use topped 3.3 trillion hours this year globally, up 25% on last year, according to mobile performance analysis firm, App Annie.


The impact of remote working?

Globally, the biggest categories of growth in time spent in mobile apps include business apps, up 200% — largely from conferencing tools like ZOOM Cloud Meetings, used at an unprecedented rate due to the shift to home working necessitated by the pandemic. Time spent on business apps rocketed from 7 billion hours to 20 billion hours.


Top apps?

The top apps worldwide for downloads in 2020 were TikTok, followed by Facebook, WhatsApp, ZOOM, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Google Meet, Snapchat, Telegraph and Singapore-based short video sharing platform, Likee.


We are on our phones and using apps for longer?

Time spent on entertainment and video apps rose from 632 billion hours last year to 879 billion hours - a leap of 40%. Social media app usage is up 20%, from 1.2 trillion hours to 1.5 trillion hours, while time on games is up 35% from 208 billion hours to 284 billion hours. Mobile phone shopping is also up, from 63 billion hours to 80 billion hours - a rise of 25%.


We are spending more as well?

2020 set a new annual record - across Apple and Android phones, $112 billion was spent on apps and games. Top categories for growth were games, photo and video apps and social networking.


Downloads will hit 130 billion by the end of the year?

Apps and game downloads are expected to approach 130 billion, with the virus making an impact. An App Annie spokesman said: “In 2020, Covid-19 catalysed demand for digital solutions to socially-distant problems. As a result, downloads grew 10% year over year.”


Gaming is the biggest business?

Mobile gaming hit new heights in 2020, according to the analysis. The top game in the UK was online gaming platform Roblox, in part due to the opportunity it affords for multiplayer gaming. An App Annie spokesman said: “Multiplayer gaming took off in 2020 as people turned to mobile games to have socially-distant fun with friends and family.”


Covid-tracing apps?

They topped the non-gaming download charts in a number of countries for a time, including Germany, Japan and the UK, with App Annie saying “mobile is reshaping how we think about medicine and public health…uniquely positioned to both help inform health officials and curb the spread of the virus.”


There’s no going back?

The spokesman added: “The coronavirus has advanced mobile usage by two to three years — accelerating our transition to a mobile-first world. From gaming to shopping to payments to video conferencing, mobile has taken centre stage in our lives - ingraining new app habits and permanently shifting the consumer landscape to a mobile-first world.”


If we continue to remote work, even for part of the time?

The reliance on mobiles can only continue. App Annie’s Vice President of marketing, Bertrand Salford, said: “2020 has made clear that mobile apps and games are at the centre of our lives even when we stay at home.”