Did you know that GWS did an extensive review of consumer mobile behavior during the first year of COVID (March 2020 – February 2021) – comparing and contrasting behavior to the prior 12 months. We obtained this data from our opt-in OneMeasure Consumer Panel (OMCP), which details the mobile app usage and content of roughly 50,000 consumers located across the U.S.

Our review included an in-depth look at a day in the life of a consumer as seen through interactions with their smartphones and provided key insights into how consumers spent their time accessing certain types of apps during the pandemic. And since not all consumers are the same – some may focus more on lifestyle apps (such as shopping, dining, and directions), games, or finance apps – GWS looked at “power users” for these categories as well (i.e., consumers who spent 20% more time than the national average in a given category).

Here are some headlines from our review:

  • Investment app usage soars with Robinhood leading the way.
  • Food stamp app usage reflects COVID financial hardship. Time spent on food stamp management app, Fresh EBT increased 152% during the pandemic.
  • TikTok dances take over social media with time spent creating videos increasing nearly four times (380%).
  • Nextdoor helped neighbors stay connected and informed, with time spent on the app increasing 53% during the pandemic year.
  • Not surprisingly, people turned to food delivery apps and online shopping to avoid the crowds. DoorDash and Uber Eats lead the way among the food delivery apps, while Walmart, Target and Amazon Shopping experienced the most significant shopping surges during the pandemic.
  • People stayed put. Power users of lifestyle apps spent less time moving around town: time spent on maps and navigation apps like Google Maps was down 17%.
  • Escaping through entertainment – people watched 42 minutes of video per day on their mobile devices, with growth in time spent on video apps paced by Gen Z (up 44%) and Baby Boomers (up 10%).
  • For many people that were stuck in the house, gaming helped friends and families connect. Time spent on multiplayer gaming apps like Among Us, ROBLOX and Pokemon GO – all up.
  • Sports fans (high volume users of sports related apps) pivoted to trading (using finance apps). And time spent on sports fantasy and betting apps took a nosedive.

Want to know more about mobile phone usage patterns and consumer behavior during the pandemic? Check out our report “The Pandemic Year in Mobile Apps.”