App Retention Improves - Apps Used Only Once Declines to 20%


As of May 2016, the percentage of apps only used once has increased to 23%. To understand more about the most current trends, visit our 2016 update

According to a recent study by Localytics, 20% of apps are used only once, an improvement of 6% over four years. This is good news for app publishers; the host of new tools that make it easier to track, understand and nurture app user engagement and delight users seems to be working.

To understand how app engagement has changed over the past four years, Localytics examined the App Retention Rate – the average number of times an app was used. Localytics found:

  • 20% of Apps are only opened once, improving from 26% four years ago
  • During the same period, the percentage of apps used 11 or more times increased 13% and now comprises nearly 40% of all apps.
  • Android has greater percentage of users opening an app 11 or more times
  • Sports and Games apps have the highest app abandonment rate of all categories, whereas Weather and Social Networking apps have the lowest


App Retention Continues to Improve

overall app retention chart

In 2014, the percent of apps used only once has shrunk to 20%, improving from 22% the previous year. In fact, during the last four years, the percentage of apps used only once has steadily decreased by 6%. During the same period, the percentage of apps used 11 or more times increased 13%, climbing to 39% in 2014. These improvements can be attributed to an increased understanding of and focus on user engagement that has enabled developers to create more useful and personalized apps.


Android Beats iOS in App Engagement

app retention rate graph

In 2013, both Android and iOS had the same percentage of apps (34%) with 11 or more sessions. Now, Android has surpassed iOS in app engagement by increasing to 45%; nearly half of Android apps are opened 11 or more times, whereas only a third (34%) of iOS apps are. A potential reason for this discrepancy is that iOS users may be suffering from app overload. With the relatively larger number of apps installed on iOS devices, competition for an iOs user’s time increases and can weaken retention. Android devices also have a greater variety of form factors including larger screen sizes, making them more ideal to consume gaming and news content, which may contribute to higher retention.Finally,Android has a remarkably small 16% of apps opened only once, whereas iOS has 23%. This data indicates that Android apps are doing a better job of engaging power users, which was also identified in the Localytics App Stickiness Index.


Sports and Games Apps Demonstrate Highest App Abandonment Rates

Percentage of Apps used only once

Sports and Games apps have an abandonment rate of 23% and 22% respectively, which is slightly higher than the 20% average across all apps. This is likely due to the variety available and competition among these apps. Both of these categories rely heavily on first impressions to engage users or risk losing them to a competitor. According to recent Localytics research, Games apps in particular have a nearly 50% chance of never being opened again if a user doesn’t return to the app within 12 hours.

Social Networking and Weather apps have the smallest percentage of apps only used once. These apps rely more on outside content that is constantly updated (either friends’ activities or the temperature outside). For Social Networking, the tremendous influence and addictiveness of social networks brings in repeat users. As for utility apps, an app doesn’t need to be especially engaging; it just needs to perform one important function such as telling the weather.

Over the last four years, app retention is showing improvement - the number of apps used only once has decreased, and there has been a steady increase of apps opened 11 or more times. While there is still room for improvement, as the mobile space matures and app developers increasingly focus on user engagement, retention and personalization, these numbers should continue to improve.



Localytics is the leading analytics and marketing platform for mobile and web apps across more than 1.5 billion devices and 25,000 apps. Localytics processes 50 billion data points monthly. The two key metrics used in this report are the number of new users and the retention rates of those new users. We identified the users who first downloaded an app in Q3 of the different years, and then identified how many times those apps were launched on those devices through March 15th of the following year. All results are based on worldwide app usage.