iOS users spend 20% more of their time using apps compared to Android users

by: Gary SimsJune 7, 2013

flurry-total time in apps on androidSince Android is winning the race for device market share, analysts and CEOs alike have turned their attention to other aspects of the battle between iOS and Android. There are of course a whole range of different ways to measure market share and user satisfaction including looking at market share in different countries, across different demographics and according to the relative wealth of the purchasers. Another way is to look at how much people use their smartphone or tablet. New data from Flurry suggests that Android users spend less time using apps than iOS users.

According to the raw numbers there are about 10 percent more active Android devices in use around the world than iOS devices. That is a significant number and it looks like this trend is likely to continue. At the recent All Things D conference Apple’s CEO Tim Cook spoke on stage with Walt Mossberg and naturally the issue of Android came up. Since Cook couldn’t deny the numbers his attention turned to how much time people spend using apps on their iOS devices. According to Tim Cook and the new Flurry report Android users spend 20 percent less time using apps on their devices compared to iOS users.

[quote qtext=”In spite of Android’s rapid rise and current lead in device market share, iOS continues to lead in terms of time spent in apps.” qperson=”Mary Ellen Gordon of Flurry” qsource=”” qposition=”left”]

This hasn’t always been the case. Back in 2009 Android was an unknown force lurking in the shadows and as a result iOS app usage was vastly greater than app usage on Android. By 2011 Android was gaining rapidly on iOS but the total time Android users spend using apps was still 50 percent less than for iOS users. However once Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was released and Android tablets started to make an impact, Android app usage was just 5 percent less than that of iOS. But since then the total time spent in apps has decreased steadily to its current 20% difference. Flurry suggests that the release of the iPad 3 had a big part to play in this.

So what are the reasons for this? One reason could be that Android phones are becoming so prevalent that many users are switching from feature phones to Android smartphones but actually they don’t want/need/know about the smartphone features and so spend less time in apps but more time using the phone as just a simple phone.

Another possibility is that the total user experience for some Android devices isn’t very high. It is still possible to get Android 2.2 and Android 2.3 phones for free on a contract both in the USA and in Europe. Android 2.x was great, but it is now old and Android has moved on. The truth is that no one would recommend an Android 2.x based phone to a friend today. This means that these buyers will join the Android community with a lesser overall experience.

What do you think? Have you tried iOS and Android, did you spend more time using apps on iOS or is this data just plain wrong? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

  • Tony K.

    Stupid comparison – what represents a total time of using apps? Nothing.
    Lets see one example:
    Two people need to go from point A to point B.
    1. Android use Google navigation and complete the job in 80 minutes. (because it used a best route).
    2. iOS use Apple navigation and complete the job in 100 minutes. (because it used not the best route)
    Same trip, 20% more time of using the app. Is it better? Of course not.

    • Diabolic

      And think about the lazy/slow users. Whenever I want to do something on my Nexus 7, I do it in seconds and close the app. So is this a bad thing or a good thing?

      That research is based on a pure failure lol.

      • No, since the app is good you do that open-work-close action more often, you won’t do that on bad apps, you won’t open them at all.

        • Diabolic

          So bad apps not included in both cases then. Nothing changes.

          • So following your logic since 2011 Android has been getting steadily worse as users are now spending more time using apps???

          • Tony K.

            Users sped more time because there are more apps, more usages of the phone and of course more users.

          • That would be true if there was a direct correlation between the number of Android user and the time spend in apps. But by 2011 there have been almost as many Android users and iOS users but yet Android users spend 50% less time in apps compared to iOS, since then that number has grown.

            Using your previous logic it means that Android was 50% more productive in 2011 and radically less now?

          • Tony K.

            My logic is not related to the graph, because the graph is useless for this purpose.
            Generally less time in using apps for the exactly the same tasks to do is better. That is my logic.
            About the graph – there a so many factors related to the total time of using apps – quantity of users, quantity of apps, speed of processing, time spent on search, existence of alternatives to do the same thing, qualification and knowledge of the users, age of the users, lifestyle of the users, how much spare time we have and many more.

          • Raaj

            Android users realize there is a world outside of apps on devices. Supported by the quality and quantity of apps, interactions are more precise and are done with quicker. Now what could be a new survey is – what people are doing while interacting with their apps. If the results are show that users, after finishing what they wanted to do primarily, are squatting around doing insignificant deeds on the same app, I wouldn’t quantify this as an app’s or ecosystem’s success. It just means some groups of users have more time to kill than others and really don’t have a clue what to do in life.
            Dont take it otherwise, but this time spent on apps schematic, is not complete without analyzing the time spent.
            Also another cause for concern is, Android users outnumber iOS users by a good margin. Going by this post, more and more numbers of Android users are spending less and less time with apps. Since a smaller iOS force has to compensate for the difference in number and then get to that 20% margin. I would say iOS users are spending 30% more time on apps but shows up as 20% only because they are lesser in number

          • Diabolic

            I was talking about a spesific case not for the whole thing. So following your logic, potato.

    • Tony, I don’t think that is what Flurry are saying… it isn’t a question of productivity but a question of usage. Your comment doesn’t apply if both users are playing the same game or using the same app (say Evernote or whatever) on both devices.

      In fact they are suggesting the opposite, if users are more productive on a certain platform they will spend more time using that platform.

      • Tony K.

        Sorry, but the last sentence is not logical. More productive usage will consequence the less time, not more. If I am using the phone to look for something and quickly find it using Google now, is it better to spend more time on iPhone to find the same thing?

        • Tony, if an app is more productive I use it more. If an app is bad, slow, buggy etc then I don’t use it, I am not going to struggle and fight with it I just stop using it. So apps that are more productive are used more. Apps which are bad are used rarely.

          The stats are for total time, not just one off uses.

          • Tony K.

            Gary, to make my point easy to understand , I will give a live example:
            I wrote this message in 5 minutes on my Nexus phone. Is it better if it was taken 6 minutes on iPhone ( smaller display, harder to type correctly)?
            I am using the phone to do my tasks. The quantity of tasks is the same. Better for me is less time spent.
            Buggy apps is not a real example. Not in 2013, maybe a 2-3 years ago it was good example, not today.

          • Tony,

            I really do appreciate your replies… I understand what you are saying and I can see why you are saying it.

            But look at the graph, using your logic Android has been getting worse since 2011. In April 2012 the worst version of Android was released with the worst apps ever? Is that right?

          • Tony K.


            this graph represents absolutely nothing. Even the title is not logically correct.

            I am using the Nexus phone, but do not see it written on the graph!

            About April 2012 – no version was released nearly. Android 4 – Ice Cream Sandwich was released December 2011, the next one 4.1 – Jelly Bean was released July 2012.

            Best regards.

          • Tony, I know that an Android version wasn’t released then, I suppose I should have said, that the worst version of Android ever became mainstream or popular in April 2012 along with the worst apps ever. Is that what you are saying?

            As for the Nexus 7 not appearing on the graph, the device labels are just there to give a rough context of when different devices where launched. It isn’t comprehensive by any means.

            So my question remains, according to the data and the graph generated by the data are you saying that Android has been getting worse since 2011?

          • Tony K.

            No. Android is getting better.
            The graph does not represent quality, so it is a mistake to use it for any decisions, of course not for considering the quality of Android.
            I am using Nexus 3, not 7.

          • salilmulay

            April 2012: Launch of Galaxy S3, older galaxy S2 and Note models got ICS. That could be the link between April 2012 and ICS.

      • salilmulay

        Ok, let’s consider evernote. I think most users spend time in typing notes and more. Android definitely has better keyboards like swiftkey and even some stock keyboards. And typing on android is way faster than that on iOS. I have both devices and can tell this from own experience.
        So I’ll spend less time in evernote, because I finish typing faster.

        For games, your argument seems valid to me.

  • Raaj

    How does using widgets classify against using the app themselves? I ask this because there are fully functional widgets which hardly require the whole app to open at any time.
    Pop up messages for sms, for eg: message comes in, you reply. end of story.. no need to open the app, scroll down, select, reply and exit.
    If this is what the “extra 20%” is being used for in the iOS, well, I am glad I am not using Android apps for 20% more time!

    • vosg

      Good point. Those ‘Flurry’ guys probably don’t even know what a widget is.

      • Raaj

        Probably a company that Apple is planning on buying – especially since “shooting in the dark” seems to be their final stand of resistance!

    • Striker

      Ohh yaah! Great bro. The simple use of making call on android need 5 taps before calling. Call app-select the caller- choose viber or skype or regular call option- then tap just once or always. Superb and innovative feature of android.
      Here the mean more time on device is not usage based, it’s overall entertainment. Now you get it.

  • mar7aib

    I’m more of an iOS user but I’ve owned a Galaxy Note II, Note 10.1, S II, and now a Note 8. The app experience goes to iOS for quality and ease of use. I think what make the difference are the social network apps and news apps. I prefer twitter, Facebook, and Flipboard on my iPad mini over the Note 8.

    • Trent Richards

      That’s odd, I find the experience to be far better on Android apps. Mostly due to the lack of navigation options in iOS. The back button really makes the navigation experience so much better. Of course everyone’s opinion will be different.

      • Timmy

        Trent, totally agree on the Back button. I use an iPad for work and frequently look for a Back button and other navigational elements that are either missing or placed where I woudn’t normally look for them. It’s my personal preference but I like the navigational controls Android provides. To each his own.

      • mar7aib

        I agree that iOS lacks standard navigation buttons, although I never had that frustration. On the other hand, cause I use the Note for meetings and other off-work note taking, I find those capacitive button to get in the way. I tried flipping the device upside down, but then the proximity sensors dim the screen. Only workable solution is side tilting, which is not very convenient for me. The Evernote on iOS however is not bad and actually more useful and less time consuming. The Android apps depend a lot on the hardware to make them shine, as I guess they’re for power users. iOS apps are more intuitive and less intrusive (in my opinion).

  • TheFluffyOne

    I do love the way that Apple (and other companies, of course) will switch the “important” measurement for their devices as soon as someone beats them, and then pretend that the old measurement was never that important anyway.

    World’s thinnest phone? Nah, nobody cares about that now. World’s fastest phone? Er… now user experience is more important. Most apps available? Well, it was always about the quality. Most app downloads? Yeah, but downloads don’t mean real users. Greatest market share? No, no, profitability is a better measure (a.k.a how much do we rip off our customers) and… um… time spent in apps. Yeah, that’s an important measure of success!

    Time spent in apps is one of the most ridiculous metrics for measurement of success I think I’ve ever heard. That doesn’t show that your platform is better, it shows that it takes longer to get things done. It shows that your users spend hours playing with fart apps. It shows that your users don’t know how to use your device properly. These reasons are just as valid as any idea that users spending more time in apps is a good indication of “user engagement”.

    There’s no doubt that iOS is a very successful platform, but come on Apple, let’s use some sensible measurements instead of pulling this kind of nonsense from your backsides!

    • vosg

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • Timmy

      The next measure is how long users wait in line to get the latest device. That’ll show them commie Android users.
      Great post FluffyOne.

  • AndroidAp

    Maybe people are spending 20% of there time watching hd movies on there 5inch plus screen :)

  • Bruno Quintal

    Some days il spend 8 hours flashing different roms kernels and tweaking different launchers. Does a launcher count as an app? Bet you it doesn’t lol

    • slut

      Wow you are so high-tech,. Can we touch you? Bet you get a lot of girls with your custom kernels. Not.

      • Squintalio

        Hmm im married and bored sensless at work so android keep me entertained. You even know what a kernel is dumbass?

  • mradovan

    That’s easy – if I use any apps, I run out of juice before end of the day! And I’m sure I’m not the only one…
    The comment applies to ICS and JB devices though, my trusty Galaxy Pocket with GB used to last 3 days without charging. And so did my iPhone 4.

  • End in sight

    When was the last time you saw a metric about how long people using a Dell machine spent using programs verses those on an HP? Who cares, right?

    But in mobile we measure it because we can. And this is one of the most worthless metrics ever. Surely Tim needed some way to try to say that “Apple is better” at something, since the reality is that Apple is being decimated. But the fact that this is the only metric he can come up with means it looks pretty bad from where he is sitting.

    As far as the debate on whether being more productive means more or less time in an app… it depends on the app. I will spend more time in my rss reader if it’s good. But I will spend less time in maps if it’s good. (And I won’t spend more time in maps, if it’s good, because I have a fixed number of times that I have to use it.)

    In iOS, everything takes longer; so one tap for me might be three taps for a fanboy. And let’s not forget that the average iOS user is mostly about games and that can suck time. Personally I use my devices for productivity so I want to spend as little time as possible with my devices. That’s just me.

  • TheFluffyOne

    Oh, and a small error in the maths here. If Android users spend _20% less_ time in apps than iOS users (which is what the study claims), then the inverse is that iOS users spend _25% more_ time in their apps than Android users (not 20% more as the headline states). 125% of 80% = 100%.

    • Yes, that is true. I originally had 25% in the article but since it was a percentage of a percentage (as the data is expressed in percentages) I opted for 20% rather than 25%. I could be wrong, it has been known to happen!

  • J. Whitaker McRae

    “Breaking News: Thanks to Widgets and Notification Bar Quick Responses Android Users 20% More Efficient Than Their iOS Counterparts!”

    You can interpret semi-irrelevent data however you wish…

  • DeadSOL

    Widgets, gestures, and the notification bar! Everything we need is outside the app itself! iSheep can go shoot themselves in a field of non-holo apps!

  • Trent Richards

    First, this is useless data. Second, I guarantee that if the stats were reversed Apple would be claiming that their apps are more efficient as they require less time.

  • jefrey note 2


  • Alice Hollend

    Ahahah that’s because you have to fumble around for ages to do anything in anything that’s mean for iOS x-D I’d say that would account for at least 10%