Time in App Increases by 21% Across All Apps

Though 20% of apps are opened only once, people are becoming more attached to apps overall. According to Localytics data, the amount of time people spend in apps has increased by 21% over the last year. People are engaging with mobile so frequently that time spent with mobile apps now exceeds time spent on traditional desktop web. Certain categories are driving this increased time spent in apps. Here is a summary of the findings:

  • Overall time in app has increased by 21% 
  • Users open an app on average 11.5 times a month, up from 9.4 a year ago (22% increase), while app session length has remained constant at 5.7 minutes
  • Social Networking experiences strong “snacking” behavior
  • Music has the greatest time in app increase of 79%
  • Time in Health & Fitness (a key feature in the recently announced iPhone 6) and Social Networking apps increased by 51% and 49% respectively

 

More Frequent App Launches Drive a Greater Time in App

Time in app is a function of the average session length and the average number of sessions for an app. While the length of individual app sessions has been relatively constant over the past year at 5.7 minutes, app launches have increased from 9.4 times a month to 11.5. This boost in app launches has driven a 21% increase in time in app. 

 

Music Shows Greatest Improvement in Time in App

People are spending more time than ever with their apps, but certain app categories show a greater increase than others.

time_in_app_chart

Music apps were the big winner with a 79% increase in time spent with these apps, resulting in an increase of 64 minutes per month compared to last year. As more people shift from iTunes to music apps such as SoundCloud and iHeartRadio, the time spent in music apps has drastically increased. These apps offer greater flexibility around music genres, playlists, and radio features. Most music apps also incorporate a social component, allowing people to share their favorite playlists. These reasons could explain why music has seen such a strong time in app increase over the past year.

Health and Fitness has shown the second highest increase in time in app at 51%, for an average 22 more minutes per month spent with these apps than last year. As the hardware specs for smartphones increase, so too does their potential to act as a health device. The recently announced iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ comes with a new Health app that continuously measures motion data (which Apple claims is especially useful for people who climb stairs!). Similar features came with the Samsung Galaxy S5 released in May, including an integrated heart rate monitor and a fitness tracker. Increasingly, health features are coming standard with smartphones, as hardware becomes more advanced and consumers demonstrate an interest in fitness tracking.

 

Social Networking Dominates App Launches

engagement_by_category

Social Networking apps exhibit “snacking” like behavior with the highest number of app launches and lowest session length.  Sports, Music, and News apps also exhibit a high number of app launches, likely due to the timeliness aspect of such apps. 

Session length is highest in the Music category. Music apps are commonly used during commutes and downtime, so it is no surprise that Music has the highest app session length, which helped drive increased time in app from last year.

Despite reports that fewer apps are being downloaded each month, people are spending more time than ever in apps. Session length and app launches are important metrics to gauge app engagement, and together are an accurate representation of the amount of time users spend in apps. Time in apps have already surpassed desktop web, and as mobile apps incorporate even greater personalization features, this number is only expected to increase. 

 

Methodology

Localytics is the leading marketing and analytics platform for mobile and web apps across more than 1.5 billion devices and 28,000 apps. Localytics processes 50 billion data points monthly. For this study, Localytics multiplied the average sessions per user in app by the average session length across all apps, and then broke it by category. The timeframe for this study is August 2013 to August 2014.

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Dave is a Business Analyst at Localytics. Other than running and 80's music, Dave enjoys nothing more than pulling rabbits out of data.

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