The smartphone homescreen is among the world’s most valuable digital real estate. App-makers’ fortunes are often tied to how many active users they can attract and retain, so getting on your homescreen—where you’ll potentially see their icons dozens of times per day—is the holy grail.
Homescreen, a new project from New York startup lab Betaworks, is tracking homescreen apps as they’re submitted by users. So far, they’ve scanned more than 13,000 homescreens, identifying almost 500,000 different apps. You can see several submissions on Twitter, hashtagged #Homescreen.
Because of the nature of the service, which requires users to download an iOS app and submit a screenshot of your own homescreen, the responses are probably tilted toward tech early-adopter types. Nevertheless, the most-popular list includes mostly familiar names. (Note that they’ve excluded Apple’s built-in apps.)
A few observations:
- Facebook dominates. Facebook and its sister apps Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger represent four of the top six apps. Google also has four apps in the top 24.
- Dropbox has more apps than Microsoft. Give Microsoft credit for building more iOS and Android apps, but don’t expect many people to put Word or Excel on their homescreens.
- There are no games on the list. This despite the App Store’s reputation as a place where games dominate the “top grossing” charts. This makes sense, though—how many people are going to be addicted to the same game long enough to keep it on their homescreen?
- There are no news apps here either. Unless , that is, you count feed readers like Reeder or Flipboard, “read later” apps like Pocket and Instapaper, or Facebook, where many people share and consume news links. Too much fragmentation?
- Most of these are old apps. Only one—Overcast, a podcast player—was released this year. Most are more than three years old.
- Speaking of Overcast, it’s one of two apps to make this list that was developed by solo app-maker Marco Arment. Instapaper, one of his older apps—now owned by Betaworks—is no. 24.
The Homescreen team also calculated which apps were the most popular additions to peoples’ docks, for easy access: WhatsApp, TweetBot, Mailbox, and Spotify, which are popular replacements for Apple’s Messaging, Mail, and Music apps.