Download's favorite apps of 2016

These are the Android and iPhone apps that we couldn't get enough of this year.

How many apps did you download this year -- and how many of those are still on your phone? Every day in 2016, about 2,500 apps hit Apple's App Store, and just a bit less landed in the Google Play Store. So even the most avid app lover can't keep up with all the new releases. We tested hundreds, but our greatest compliment is putting an app in heavy rotation on our phones. Here are the iOS and Android apps that my colleague Cliff Colby and I couldn't live without this year.


Pokemon Go (Android, iOS)

Pokemon Go leaves shuttering

For a few months this summer, we got to spend quality time with our neighbors. Pokemon trainers gathered in parks, walked city streets, sat on benches, and prowled waterfronts to capture pocket monsters. Pokemon Go combined childhood memories with augmented reality to create a captivating hit that for a while turned us all into gamers and our towns into gamescapes. -- Cliff


Quartz (Android, iOS)


Quartz launched its iOS news app in 2016, changing the way we receive our daily updates. With Quartz you don't have to open an app; instead, it texts you bite-sized news snippets: short messages, photos, GIFs, and links. Just tap any story for more info. Best yet, in a time when we're wary of fake news, Quartz offers stories produced by a team of real journalists, managed by Adam Pasick, formerly of and Reuters. -- Josh

Social media and messaging

Facebook Messenger (Android, iOS)


Facebook Messenger, once a simple texting app, keeps introducing more features to keep us engaged, entertained, and secure. This year saw the addition of Facebook M, a virtual assistant within Messenger; Instant Games, new and retro games you can play inside chats; and Secret Conversations, an opt-in feature that promises end-to-end message encryption. -- Josh

Instagram (Android, iOS)


Snapchat's growing ever more popular, but this year Instagram proved it's still relevant. For starters, the app answered Snapchat Stories with Instagram Stories, a slideshow of photos and videos captured over 24 hours. Instagram also added the ability to post longer videos and live videos, now lets you remove annoying comments and followers, and refreshed its logo. -- Josh

MSQRD (Android, iOS)

MSQRD Social Photo Filter

It seems like we've been snickering at MSQRD-made video selfies for years, but the app is barely a year old. MSQRD has earned praise from Google and Apple, and Facebook liked the app so much it bought MSQRD this spring. So you can now stream your selfies on Facebook Live, as well as share through the usual social services. -- Cliff

Photos and video

Hyper (Android, iOS)


From science and news to society and art, Hyper offers captivating videos every hour. Culled from sources across the Internet, Hyper's videos provide highly watchable content throughout your day. -- Cliff

Prisma (Android, iOS)


Prisma, which launched in 2016, showed us just how artsy smartphone photography could be. Many apps can filter photos, but Prisma turned our photos into artwork inspired by masters like Munch, Picasso, and Mondrian. -- Josh



Netflix (Android, iOS)

Netflix was already an essential app for watching movie and series, letting you stream video on demand to your devices. But a fall update to the app added the ability to download shows and movies for offline viewing. Not everything is available, but if you see a download arrow next to a title or episode, you can grab the video and watch without an Internet connection. -- Cliff


Credit Karma (Android, iOS)


Checking your credit used to be a costly, laborious process, but Credit Karma has made it free and easy. You get your complimentary, detailed report through the app, but you also get free monitoring in case of changes to your report, the ability to dispute errors, and tips for improving your score. Finally, Credit Karma also recommends credit cards and loans you will likely qualify for. -- Josh



Bear (iOS)

Who knew -- with Notes and OneNote and Evernote -- that we needed another note-taking app? App developer Shiny Frog did when it released Bear this summer, a note-taking app for iOS and MacOS devices that offers rich formatting tools, tags and other organizational tools, and syncing via iCloud, all driven by an attractive interface. -- Cliff

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About Joshua Rotter

Joshua Rotter is a copy editor for and covers iOS.