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We Are What We Download: The Top 10 Apps of 2013

Since we are increasingly tied to our mobile devices, the apps we use on those devices become equally more important. So what are the top 10 apps downloaded in 2013?

It’s not a simple list based on number of downloads, but rather a look at the top 10 most important apps of the year, based on whether they make it on both Apple and Android users’ radars plus the apps getting the most attention in the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

A quick note, these are the top apps minus games. If we listed the top 10 apps and included games, it would all be Angry Birds Seasons, Candy Crush Saga and various kinds of ninjas. Given that, here are the top 10 apps of 2013:

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Yes, the crazy thing is that not only will Facebook not go away, but it continues to be a high target for mobile app downloads across all mobile platforms, which means Facebook’s transition to mobile is continuing apace, and that’s good news for marketers as shopping and eyeballs are increasingly moving to devices that fit in one’s pocket or purse.

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If Facebook paid $1 billion for Instagram primarily for its subscriber base, then 2013 was a good sign for that investment, as the association with Facebook proved not to be a poison apple for the snap-and-share picture service. Although, perhaps there’s still a market segment that has sworn off Instagram for life due to its association with Facebook, in which case there might be an opening for Hipstamatic’s new photo-sharing app, Oggl, which has a subscription-based business model to keep ad clutter away - that might look clean to users, but it’s no good for marketers. However Oggl fares, 2013 was Instagram’s year.

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Acquired by Twitter late last year, Vine debuted to users in late January 2013 and quickly became Twitter’s answer to Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram. By April, Vine had become the iTunes Store’s most downloaded app of all time. Marketers have jumped into the world of six-second looping videos like ducks to water as if this Vine thing had always existed. The Doritos branded six-second mariachi band “name that tune” vines will go down in history as a product of one of the top apps of 2013.

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Whats App

The text + video + audio messaging app WhatsApp didn’t launch this year; it was handling 10 billion messages a day in August 2012. But in 2013, it continued to grow, reaching 27 billion messages a day in June of this year (a milestone that it announced on Twitter) and continues to outpace competing Facebook Messenger in total Android downloads. It is a little less popular on iOS platforms because of iMessage.

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Bought by Google in June 2013 for something just shy of a billion dollars, the social GPS and navigating app Waze has made many commutes and road trips more efficient and fun. At the time of its acquisition, Waze boasted having 50 million users, or Wazers -- users that location-based brands can now target using in-app advertising and branded map pins.

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Google Maps

Late last year, in mid-December, Google announced that Google Maps was available as an app in the iTunes Store, six months after being replaced by the inferior Apple Maps in the iOS 6 launch. WIthin 24 hours of its launch, it was downloaded over 10 million times, a skyrocket rate that propelled it well into 2013, especially after it launched its iOS 7 update in November.

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Apple Maps

With the iOS 7 update, Apple Maps has begun to win back some of the audience that it never really had in the first place. Just as 2012 ended with everyone laughing at Apple Maps’ funeral, it has slowly amassed 35 million regular users this year. Of course, much of that usage is due to the app’s integrated functionality with Siri, Safari and other elements of iOS 7. But it has apparently stopped sucking enough to prevent people from doing a manual work-around to their Google Map app.

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The cloud-storage app Dropbox started 2013 by accounting for 0.29% of all global internet bandwidth, which is like, a lot. By November, it had gained 200 million users, despite some bad press involving privacy concerns, like whether or not the NSA has access to whatever you put there.

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In the summer of 2013, Skype released several upgrades that offered cross-platform video messaging in June and then in August, upgraded its Apple iOS video to full HD. Although, the Microsoft-owned messaging brand suffered a set-back at the end of the year when it received a rocky reception to its announcement that it will end its programming interface, which had supported apps like call recorders and hardware like headsets for the past nine years. People weren’t happy.

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With 200 million active users, Twitter started the year by launching Vine, then polished it off with an IPO in September. After its first day of trading, the app was valued at $31 billion, which was 73% higher than it had been earlier that day. Like Facebook, this app isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And now that it’s a publicly traded company, its desire to monetize via mobile will only grow.

What were your must-have apps in 2013?

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