The Nielsen ratings firm has published a list of the top 10 smartphone apps of 2016, along with a look at the mobile operating systems the apps use. In the U.S. rankings, Facebook grabbed the top two spots with its Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps, at 146 million and 129.6 million users respectively, while Apple Music squeaked into the top rankings with a number 9 showing with 68.3 million users.

Nielsen Releases 2016 Top 10 Smartphone Apps Rankings - Apple Music Takes 9th Place

The number 3 through 7th place rankings were all Google, with YouTube (113.7 million), Google Maps (105.7 million), Google Search (103.9 million), Google Play (99.7 million), and Gmail (88.5 million). Facebook-owned Instagram took 8th with 74.6 million users, then came Apple Music. The Amazon app filled out the top ten, with 65.5 million users.

Apple Music’s 68.3 million users is up 20% from 2015. Apple announced in December their streaming music service had officially passed the 20 million subscriber mark.

As far as mobile operating systems go, the third quarter of 2016 saw apps opened on Android devices 53% of the time, iOS received 45% of the action, and Windows Phone and BlackBerry received a paltry 2% and 1% of app usage, respectively.

Nielsen Releases 2016 Top 10 Smartphone Apps Rankings - Apple Music Takes 9th Place


Nielsen’s Electronic Mobile Measurement is installed with permission on panelist smartphones (approximately 9,000 panelists ages 18+ with Android and iOS handsets). The panelists are recruited online in English and include Hispanic, African-American, Asian-American, Native American and Alaskan Native and other mixed racial background consumer representation.

This method provides a holistic view of all activity on a smartphone as the behavior is being tracked without interruption. Data is based on Nielsen’s monthly survey of 30,000-plus mobile subscribers aged 13 and up in the U.S. Mobile owners are asked to identify their primary mobile handset by manufacturer and model, which are weighted to be demographically representative of mobile subscribers in the U.S. Smartphone penetration reflects all models with a high-level operating system (including Apple iOS, Android, Windows and BlackBerry).