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What were the most popular iPhone apps in 2020?

Staying connected was such an important part of the 2020 experience it’s no wonder our mobile phones and their marvellous apps helped us through what was an incredibly stressful year.

For technophobes to technophiles, 2020 really was the year of the phone app. With that in mind we thought we would take a look at Apple’s list of the most-downloaded iPhone apps of 2020. How many did you download and were any of these your personal favourite?

Son and Father playing games

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Top free iPhone apps

With the COVID-19 global pandemic in full swing it’s no wonder that video calling service Zoom and the NHS COVID-19 app were on everyone’s phones. Such was their popularity they even managed to overtake those phone app mainstays WhatsApp and Instagram to become the most popular downloads from Apple's App Store in 2020.

Many people hadn’t heard of Zoom until the pandemic and lockdown hit but this was soon to change. As many of us became increasingly reliant on video calls when working from home or socialising with friends, Zoom came into its own. From business owners and creatives to teachers and grandparents, the free video calling app was easy for anyone to use.

Remember, with many businesses under pressure during 2020, if you’re using your phone for work, be sure to check you’ve got the best iPhone insurance in place.

Despite being released comparatively late in the year, the NHS COVID-19 app quickly stormed into second place for fairly obvious reasons. After all, the more of us that use it, the better we can control the virus.

This invaluable tool had several uses for phone owners. Firstly, it allowed quick updates on the risk of coronavirus in your area. Secondly, it sent an alert to your phone if you had been in close proximity to anyone with coronavirus. Thirdly, it let you quickly check into venues with the QR code scanner. Finally, it helped you to check your symptoms and book a free test.

But after all the stress and anxiety brought about by coronavirus and its impact on our communities, we all needed a break, too. And that’s easy to see from some of the other top free apps on the App Store.

Video-sharing platform TikTok made stars of many users while giving us all hours of distraction from the daily grind. From genius life hacks and wacky make-up tutorials to heartfelt messages and the latest dance challenges, the app provided vital respite.

Meanwhile WhatsApp kept us in contact with friends and family groups, offering and receiving emotional support throughout the year. It was also perfect for sending those hilarious photos and videos that brought a smile to so many faces. All for free!

Houseparty managed to get ahead of some of the biggest names in social networking with its unique combination of group video calls with games and quizzes. Surprisingly, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram all ranked lower in terms of downloads.

Streaming services also proved popular among those looking for free iPhone apps – with YouTube, Spotify, Netflix and Disney+ (which launched at the start of the UK’s first lockdown in March) also featuring.

Top paid-for iPhone apps

The list of the top paid-for iPhone apps provides an interesting insight into what the public still found essential during these dark times, with a host of apps demonstrating our positive focus on the future, learning and staying healthy.

Considering many of us were confined to our homes it’s interesting to see that Driving Theory Test 4 in 1 Kit and Official DVSA Theory Test Kit were still ranked as first and second for the year. Being able to drive is still a must-have skill in our modern world and when you’re sitting at home there will never be a better time to focus and learn!

Next up is the award-winning Procreate Pocket which enables you to sketch and paint on your iPhone. Turning your iPhone into a pocket-sized easel and sketch pad with just a simple download.

Those with a creative mind loved this versatile app which made you feel like you had your own art studio in your pocket. With hundreds of pressure-sensitive brushes, an advanced layering system, drawing guides and so much more 2020 was definitely the time to get those creative juices flowing.

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, babies continue to be born and new parents continue to search for advice on dealing with this huge, life-changing event. Whether your baby is crying constantly, sleeping poorly or clinging desperately to you The Wonder Weeks tells you what to expect during this testing time and gives you valuable insights into how to cope. Parenting is also coupled with the fear of losing them so why not check out our recent blog on how to track your child's location with your phone.

Virtual birth partner app Freya – Surge Timer was also popular further down the list as was the Squeezy NHS Pelvic Floor app.

Many of us were also clearly worried that we were spending too much time scrolling and not enough time living! Forest – Stay focused is a great little timer app many turned to for help. Simply plant a tree on the app when you need to stay focused.

If you stay focused, your tree grows. If you don’t, your tree dies. A simple and fun way to focus on the positive in life and practise some mindfulness while you’re at it.

An emphasis on staying healthy and being more aware of the outside world also characterised many other popular entries on this list. For those with an Apple Watch, AutoSleep Track Sleep was a popular sleep tracking download invaluable if you found sleep more difficult during this time.

And with so few planes in the sky, many of us clearly felt the need to look up and appreciate the beauty above us. Dark Sky Weather, a weather-predicting app bought by Apple earlier in the year provides users with hour-by-hour temperature readings, visualisations of weather activity and smartphone alerts. Sky Guide and SkyView both vied for our attention and our download space, helping us to easily get to know the night sky and constellations. 

Home learning characterised many family lives during 2020 and we can see the evidence in the app list. With schools closed for months on end to curb the spread of the virus, apps including Hit the Button Maths, Spelling Shed and Teach Your Monster to Read all rose to the top of the e-learning pile. All great fun to use, even if you don’t have kids!

If you do sometimes let other family members use your precious smartphone for accessing apps then make sure you have iPhone insurance from Gadget Cover. Our policies can be extended to your immediate family. So, if someone close loses or damages your phone you’re also covered. Saving many arguments and tears in the process!

Top free iPhone games

Let’s face it, where would we be without our mobile phone games to keep us occupied when we can’t go out? In the free gaming category, online multiplayer title Among Us! was named the most popular free iPhone game.

If you don’t already know, Among Us! is a social deduction game set in space where players have to uncover murderous saboteurs who attempt to jeopardise a mission. With simple graphics reminiscent of classic video games of the 1980s the title was a classic sleeper hit when it surged in popularity in mid-2020.

The game's profile shot up even further in October when a live-stream of Democratic congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar playing the game amassed almost half a million viewers on gaming service Twitch. An unusual but very successful voter outreach event!

Addictive tricky puzzle game Brain test: Tricky Puzzles was perfect for those in need of riddles to challenge and distract their minds. Fans of word games, word searches, puzzles and Sudoku all loved it – although it’s recommended to leave your common sense at home!

Perhaps reacting to the ‘stay safe, stay at home’ message from the health authorities, living dangerously was the name of the game for those downloading Subway Surfers in 2020. The object being to escape the grumpy train inspector and his dog while surfing subway trains on your hoverboard. A complete and utter disregard for health and safety, but great fun!

An entire virtual universe on Roblox was a safe place for many during the past year. If you’re in the mood for an epic role-playing adventure then MeepCity is perfect for you. But if you fancy a zombie apocalypse game inspired by Peppa Pig, then Piggy might be more your cup of tea. With a growing library of worlds created by the fan community there’s always something new and exciting for you to explore.

Perhaps the surprise hit of 2020 was Woodturning 3D. With the tag-line ‘One lathe to rule them all’ this app doesn’t take itself too seriously. The game is a woodturning simulator where you use virtual chisels on a lathe to complete customer orders for a whole host of wooden knick-knacks. Simple but oh so effective. 

Other well-known gaming classics making the download list included Call of Duty, Mario Kart Tour and Fortnite.

Teen mobile gaming

Top paid-for iPhone games

Gaming is a massive business in the UK and iPhone users are an integral part of that. The list of top paid-for iPhone games is an interesting mix of the modern and traditional.

The top two spots go to long-established popular powerhouses Football Manager 2020 and Minecraft. Next up is the modern take on that traditional family stalwart Monopoly. App versions of the classic favourites Cluedo and The Game of Life also appear further down the list.

Perhaps not unsurprisingly one of the other stand-out games is Plague Inc. A unique mix of strategy and realistic simulation, the player creates and evolves a pathogen in an effort to annihilate the human population with a deadly plague. Not one for those of a sensitive disposition and perhaps too close to reality for some.

Top iPad apps

It wasn’t just our iPhones that we’ve been glued to for the duration of 2020. Apple enthusiasts often flip between their iPhones and their iPads depending on where they are and what they’re doing.

For the iPad, Zoom again retains the top spot with app offerings from Microsoft Teams, Houseparty and Skype all further down the downloads list.

Streaming services are definitely the order of the day for iPad users with Disney+, Netflix and Amazon Prime all appearing in the top five – reflecting our love of content on a decent-sized portable screen. And the established UKTV providers are not far behind. The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 all have their own streaming apps in the top 20 list for iPad.

In terms of paid iPad apps, graphic editing software Procreate and note-taking app GoodNotes 5 are first and second. The influence of younger family members on paid iPad use is also striking with home learning apps high on the list of top downloads.

Also popular are the range of super cute kids’ apps from Toca. These include Toca Life: Hospital, Toca Life: Neighbourhood, Toca Life: Vacation and Toca Kitchen 2. That’s a lotta Toca!

iPhone insurance from Gadget Cover

Whichever of these apps you’ve fallen in love with over the course of 2020, Gadget Cover’s team of insurance specialists will always search to find you an iPhone insurance policy that’s just right for you.

Protecting your iPhone or other Apple devices from the risk of being damaged, lost or stolen is crucial in these difficult times.

That’s why policies arranged through Gadget Cover can include protection from accidental damage, liquid damage, theft, breakdown and unauthorised usage. Policyholders who pay an extra premium can also protect against loss.

If you’re looking forward to getting away in 2021 then cover is also automatically extended to include use of your iPhone anywhere in the world, up to 180 days in any one year.

Get a quick quote for iPhone insurance today.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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