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Most Popular of 2019 – which apps were downloaded the most?

Alongside its editorial picks for the greatest apps and games of 2019, Apple has published ranking lists for the most popular App Store downloads of the year.

The lists make for an interesting read, illustrating just how difficult it can be for new apps to break into the mainstream. In fact, only one of the top 20 free apps was released this year, with the list primarily made up of ever-present big players like YouTube and Instagram. If you’re curious, that one newbie is the teen-oriented anonymous Q&A app YOLO.

The paid app charts are a little more varied, but as expected to feature a bunch of apps that have been around for a while. Amongst the list is a handful of our personal favorites like Procreate Pocket, Things 3, and TouchRetouch.

Moving onto games, the free charts make it abundantly clear that popularity doesn’t always mean quality. Big names like Mario Kart Tour, Call of Duty, and Fortnite make the cut, joining a sea of extremely simplistic freemium games that exist purely to rinse players for cash. It’s true that even those existing franchises have joined the freemium movement, but they at least can lean on solid core gameplay and a raft of features.

On the premium side of gaming, the paid charts reveal a much better selection. Here, there’s a combination of ports from PC and console with creative indie hits designed for iOS – but like the apps selection, few of these were released recently. Both free and paid lists pale in comparison to Apple Arcade, which arguably has the most exciting mobile releases of 2019. Seeing the alternative on the App Store really makes that $5 monthly subscription seem like amazing value.

We’ve shown off the top fives here but if you want to dig deeper into this story, check out the full listings that comprise 80 titles in total: Top Apps of 2019 / Top Games of 2019.