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Survey results: The apps you use every day

In today's slice of our Australian CNET survey results, we take a detailed look at the apps that define our smartphone home screens.

facebook mobile page
Facebook is your #1 app. Facebook

It's day four of our analysis of the CNET AU survey of our every day tech habits. Before getting started on today's wrap up, be sure to check out day one, day two, and day three. After looking at hardware and brands in various ways, today we explore the apps we use each day on our smartphones. Which apps dominate our home screens?

The apps you use more than any other

Our app survey went a little crazy. As a write-in option we asked readers to tell us the top ten apps they use every day. Then we laboriously fixed typos, counted scores, and categorised apps to build a list of your top apps overall and by category. Across all users surveyed we collected data on over 3500 app mentions to build our list of the apps we're using daily.

There are no prizes for guessing that Facebook was the number one most used app, with 68 percent of those surveyed mentioning the app somewhere in their top ten. Google Chrome came in second, mentioned by 37 percent of readers, and Twitter took the bronze with 27 percent. Generic 'email' and 'phone' were next, each given the nod by 24 percent of those surveyed.

Here's a list of the top 20 apps mentioned:

The top 20 apps Australian CNET readers use on a daily basis. CNET

The prevalence of social media apps -- 6 of the top 20 were social network based -- shows just how much this category of apps is front and centre in the smartphone experience. We aren't using just Facebook, we're using Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat and others, and we're using them on our smartphones.

Of all these apps, CommBank is the one stand out Australian app, showing that the bank's technical leadership and features in mobile banking has given it great traction amongst Australian CNET readers.

Top apps by key categories

When we look the top apps by category we get a greater sense of how dominant some of the above apps are, even in hotly contested app categories, and other categories that are more divided in user loyalties.

Looking at just social media apps, Facebook sits miles in front of the rest with 75 percent of all mentions for the category, with Twitter in second at 14 percent. Instagram and Snapchat appear in 4 percent of mentions each, and then mentions for the likes of Tumblr, Reddit, LinkedIn, and others drops to 1 percent each.

Google Chrome is second only to Facebook in top app list mentions. Google

We gathered a wide range of apps under the 'reading web content' banner, which included web browsers, and Google Chrome finished well in front here with 43 percent of mentions. Safari came next with 11 percent, which suggests many iPhone users have switched to Google Chrome as the browser they were naming instead of Apple's default option. The generic 'web browser' was mentioned next at 6 percent, followed by Flipboard (5 percent), CNET (4 percent -- shucks, you guys), Reddit (3 percent), and IMDB (3 percent). Firefox was also at 3 percent, and then a wealth of options at 1 percent and below, including many Australian news outlets as well as apps like Opera, Pocket, and Feedly.

In communication apps, the humble generic 'phone' app still rules the roost, mentioned 43 percent of the time. But WhatsApp wasn't too far behind here at 30 percent of category mentions. Then we see a big drop back to the infamous Facebook Messenger (7 percent), with iMessage and Google Hangouts both at 4 percent each. WeChat, Viber and BBM are all at 3 percent each in this category.

Taking a look at the audio category, the impact of Spotify upon the CNET audience is writ large, taking 35 percent of mentions for the category. The generic 'Music Player' comes in next at 16 percent, followed by generic 'Podcasts' at 13 percent. Shazam, Poweramp, and Google Music were each at 6 percent, and Pandora, iTunes, DoggCatcher, Beyond Pod and Australia's own PocketCasts all received 3 percent of mentions.

Mentions spread very widely as we head into other categories, making it too difficult to easily draw conclusions in those cases.

App variety is the spice of life

Considering every mention of every app in total, what stands out most of all is just how diverse our app usage patterns really are. Across every top ten from every reader surveyed, we saw many hundreds of different apps mentioned as people's most important daily apps.

When we count every app mentioned separately (rather than a cumulative count of every time an app was mentioned in total) we find the same list of apps at the top, but their dominance looks markedly different. Now Facebook is top, but with 9 percent of mentions, and Google Chrome is second with 5 percent. This is because we now see that apps ranked outside the top 20 account for 49 percent of all apps appearing in the survey.

The long tail of apps dominates our highly individual top app lists. CNET

This is the long tail in action -- we might all share a few key apps at the top of the list, but we then quickly disappear into our own unique list. Small apps that help us do work, have fun, relax, track our fitness, and the rest. Variety in our app choices is far more dominant than even Facebook when it comes to what really matters most in unique, individual, personal smartphone experiences.