We surveyed the IPG Mediabrands network and scoured the app store charts and industry press from the year to pull together a list of our top apps of 2016. Of course, the usual suspects topped the list in terms of usage and downloads. We can’t live without SnapChat, Facebook, and Instagram, but that is nothing new. These apps are heavily ingrained into everyday life and aren’t leaving our devices anytime soon. We wanted to identify the apps that shaped 2016, outside of those essentials, so here are our best apps of 2016:

1. UberEats (Food & Beverage)

UberEats launched in Melbourne in April, followed by Sydney in August and the rest of Australia in October of this year. The app is essentially Uber for food delivery, boasting options from some of the country’s best restaurants delivered at “uber speeds”. Upon launch in Sydney, the app has been number 1 in the app store’s food & beverage category almost every single day and has even made it into the top 10 apps overall in Australia. Melbourne is already one of the most popular UberEat cities in the world and is also the home of the most popular Uber Eat’s delivery item – a special Greek wrap from Jimmy Grants.

More than half of those we surveyed downloaded the app this year, many naming it as one of their favourite apps of 2016. In fact, 75% of those who downloaded it still have the app on their device which is above the industry standard. Food delivery and pre-order apps like MenuLog and HeyYou have been gaining traction in Australia for some time allowing UberEats to launch in a market already comfortable making food and beverage purchases via apps. The app has been heavily promoted by Uber and the special offers for new users, has surely contributed to its instant success.

iTunes Store Rating: 4/5
Google Play Rating: 4/5
Price: Free

2. BOM Weather (Weather)

The Bureau of Meteorology’s highly anticipated weather app launched in October of this year. The app continuously pulls in BOM’s data to show current temperature, wind, humidity, and rainfall, as well as daily and weekly forecasts. Features include rain radar, weather warnings, favourite locations.

The app is simple and ad-free, making weather from the original source easy to access, with the option to expand more for details when needed. While many existing weather apps pull in data from BOM, this is the first time that the data will be available via a mobile app directly from BOM. Since its launch BOM has been the #1 Weather app in Australia on Android and iOS. It has also remained in the top 10 apps overall on Android almost every day since launch. Mediabrands saw a great uptake in downloads and an 80% retention rate.

iTunes Store Rating: 4/5
Google Play Rating: 4/5
Price: Free

3. Wunderlist (Productivity)

Wunderlist is the ultimate to-do-list app. Plan holidays, share grocery lists and collaborate on team projects with easy to share lists. Wunderlist syncs between all of your devices, allowing you to access your lists from anywhere. Other features include reminders, conversations, due dates, attachments, folders and hashtags to keep your lists organise and searchable. Whilst Wunderlist was not launched in 2016, its purchase by Microsoft in 2015 could attribute to its successful year with a series of updates and new features released this year including; quick adding tasks, Google Now integration, and a plug-in for Outlook mail.

The app has been featured as “the best to-do-list app” countless times this year by industry press such as the Verge, LifeHacker and PC Magazine.

iTunes Store Rating: 4.5/5
Google Play Rating 4.5/5
Price: Free (Pro subscriptions start at $4.99/ month)

4. Prisma (Photography)

In our books, Prisma is the “coolest app of 2016.” During the Pokemon Go craze, Prisma was launched under the radar, but still quickly rose in popularity among photographers and Instagrammers alike. Prisma is a photo editing app that turns your photos into works of art in the style of famous artists (Picasso, Lichtenstein) and famous ornaments and patterns. The app utilises a neural network and powerful artificial intelligence to create the photo effects. Images are easily shareable with friends and the network of prisma users globally.

The wow factor is guaranteed as images look as if they are actually hand painted with a paintbrush on canvas instead of taken on a mobile phone. The app made it on Apple’s Best of 2016 and Tech Crunch even said of the app, “Artists Beware! AI is coming for your paintbrush too.” Just when we thought photo filters were all starting to look the same, Prisma has reinvigorated the photo editing process, allowing anyone to create a masterpiece. A must to download!

iTunes Store Rating: 4.5/5
Google Play Rating 4.2/5
Price: Free

5. Messenger by Facebook (Social Networking)

Facebook Messenger was by far one of the favourite apps this year from Mediabrands staff as well as ranking in the most popular in both stores for downloads. While messenger (the messaging app extension from the facebook app) has been around for some time, 2016 was a transformational year. The app originally appealed as a way to stay in touch with friends and family without paying for each individual message sent. Group conversations, free calling, read receipts, voice messages and sending stickers and photos are among features that make the app an alternative to traditional SMS. This year saw the introduction of a suite of new features, notably, chatbots which have become one of the hottest topics of 2016.

At Facebook’s F8 Event in April, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook’s messaging platform for brands, saying “We think you should be able to message a business like you would message a friend” Since then, brands have been flocking to the platform in hopes of changing the way they interact with customers with automated customer support, e-commerce guidance, content and experiences.

Messenger has also opened up for more integrations with third-party apps and games. Payments via messenger are transforming the app into a way to send money to friends or make purchases from favourite brands. We are excited to see how Facebook’s Messenger continues to evolve and how it leads the way in the rise of both messaging apps and chatbots in 2017.

iTunes Store Rating: 3/5
Google Play Rating: 4/5
Price: Free

6. Quartz (News)

The Quartz app also ties into 2016’s messaging and artificial intelligence trends. The app offers a new way to digest news with the content presented specifically for your mobile phone. Instead of passively skimming articles on traditional news apps and sites, Quartz allows you to have an ongoing conversation about the news, just like texting, with the app. Quartz has their own original writing team and you receive messages, photos, GIFs, and links, with all the content and responses written by humans, making the interactions feel natural. Other features include; notifications based on interest and preferences, charts with the most interesting news of the day, an Apple Watch version of the app with emojis giving insight into how the market is doing, quizzes and entertainment.

The app was one of the most highly anticipated apps of the year and has offered real utility to the craze around bots and artificial intelligence and of course, has made Apple’s hotly contested “best apps of 2016” list. Wired has called it “the future of mobile news, as Quartz envisions it” and TechCrunch has said of the app “It’s super simple and a real breath of fresh air.” The app is currently exclusive to iPhone and Apple Watch.

iTunes Store Rating: 4.5/5
Google Play Rating: N/A
Price: Free

7. BitMoji (Utilities)

Bitmoji allows you to create your own personal emoji. Once you’ve created your cartoon avatar with all kinds of details ranging from face shape, wrinkles and eyebrow colour to favourite outfit you have access to extensive sticker libraries featuring the emoji version of you. Bitmojis can be sent via message on various messaging platforms and for newer operating systems, can be added to your device’s keyboard.

As Snapchat purchased Bitmoji for an estimated $100 million earlier this year, in July, the company announced that bitmojis could be shared and used on Snapchat. You can even pull in “friendmojis” if your friends are using the app too – a feature that creates two-person emojis based on the person you are speaking to. SnapChat integration and promotion led to a great deal of PR for the app and “bitmoji” has almost become a household term. From the launch of Bitmoji and SnapChat integration, the app has taken the number one spot in the utilities category of the app store almost every single day.

iTunes Store Rating: 4.5/5
Google Play Rating: 4.5/5
Price: Free

8. Duolingo (Education)

Doulingo is the free and easy way to learn languages on mobile. The app integrates gamification into the entire learning process with points earned for correct answers, levels, timed exercises and competitions with friends. TIME Magazine has said of the app, “Duolingo may hold the secret to the future of education.” and the app has been hailed as the best language app by the Wall Street Journal, PC Magazine, and even Apple.

Several Mediabrands staff named the app as a favourite that they downloaded this year and 70% of those who did download the app are still using it. The app has remained in the top 5 education apps in stores for the entirety of 2016. This year Duolingo proclaimed that it is the most downloaded education app in the world and launched “Tinycards” a flashcard learning game to use to learn almost anything – so while you are learning French with Duolingo, you can also be memorising French history on TinyCards.

iTunes Store Rating: 4.5/5
Google Play Rating: 4.5/5
Price: Free

9. Boomerang (Photo & Video)

While Instagram’s Boomerang app launched at the end of 2015, anyone can tell you that 2016 was the year that the looping mini-videos took over social media. Boomerang allows you to create shareable mini-videos that loop back and forth. The app captures a burst of 10 photos and then stitches them together to create a video that can be shared instantly to Facebook and Instagram or stored to your device. The app is simple as can be, with two screens, one button, and functionality extending to choosing between the front and back view cameras. When shared on Instagram, a “Made with Boomerang” link posts to the feed, allowing others to easily download and create their own boomerangs.

Boomerang has steadily remained in the top 10 photo apps for both the Apple and Google Play Stores for the past year. 20% of those surveyed mentioned boomerang as their favourite app and of those who downloaded the app since it’s launch last year, 76% still use the app.

iTunes Store Rating: 3.5/5
Google Play Rating: 4.3/5
Price: Free

10. 7 Minute Workout Challenge (Health & Fitness)

With so many workout apps in the app stores, many catering to niche interests, it’s hard to imagine that one could rise to the top. But, 7 Minute Workout Challenge has defied the odds and cemented its place as one of Australia’s favourite workout apps. The app has maintained a top 10 place on the overall app charts and has remained in the top 3 for the fitness category throughout 2016. Of those surveyed, 7 Minute Workout Challenge was the most mentioned favourite fitness app.

The “7 Minute Workout” is a research-backed workout program, consisting of 12 exercises that are performed for 30 seconds with 10-second rest intervals. This high-intensity training with short breaks, results in higher daily metabolism and is the equivalent of working out for over an hour, all in only 7 minutes. Exercises are simple and do not require any equipment or an internet connection. A gamification element allows you to track results and unlock rewards and the app also supports Apple Watch functionality. The app has seen widespread international success, even claiming to be the #1 fitness app in 127 countries.

iTunes Store Rating: 4.5/5
Google Play Rating: 4.5/5
Price: $4.49

Written by Maddie Wirthman, Client Solutions Manager