In Frontpage Featured Content, Mobile, News
Visual 1st Perspectives
August 19, 2020
What’s trending among top-ranking
photo & video apps?
[Scroll down for And a few more things… industry news highlights]; [Click Download Pictures if images don’t show]
I occasionally check the photo app categories in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store to keep a finger on the pulse of what is trending in these stores. Since it has been a while and since we’re gearing up to recruiting 30-some photo/video developers to demo their apps in our Show & Tell sessions at Visual 1st, I thought it was a perfect time to have a fresh look at what’s currently going on in these stores. Being a numbers guy, I could also not resist to extract some key data and explore whether there are any meaningful takeaways to detect.
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Before we get started, there are a few limitations with the data and analysis presented below. First, they are based on the US stores on a single date (August 15). They are also limited to the photos listed in the “Photo and Video” category (iOS app store) and “Photography” category (Google Play), i.e. some high-flying photo or video apps are missing, as they are listed in other categories. (BTW, the Google Photography category does include a fair amount of video apps). E.g. TikTok is listed in the Social category on Google Play and in the Entertainment category in the iOS App Store – not in the Photo & Video category.
Still, the daily fluctuations are usually pretty minimal and there are some interesting findings to report for the US stores. Before we get there, let’s first present the top 15 photo (& video) apps, arranged by iOS vs. Android and free vs. paid:
Here are my takeaways after some closer review:
1. Product portfolio
  • 2 companies have 4 apps among the 60 top-downloaded photo/video apps:
  • Google (YouTube (free iOS), Google Photos (free iOS as well as Android) and Snapseed (free Android)
  • Lightricks (Facetune (paid iOS app), Facetune2 (free iOS as well as Android), and Videoleap (freeiOS) (we will cover Lightricks’ product portfolio expansion in our The Visual 1st Star Performer Alumni Check-in panel at Visual 1st.) (see also at the bottom of this page)
2. Print app
3. Paid vs. free
  • Note that there are many gray areas between free and paid apps, as, for instance, some free apps have very limited functionality and require one-time or subscription-based in-app purchases for the more functional features or modules.
4. Old vs. new
  • Increasingly, the top ranked apps count very few newcomers. Apparently, success breeds success (especially if coupled with successful app store optimization). Among the 60 apps in the 4 store categories, the average time on the market since launch is 1,981 days (5.4 years).
  • The apps that have been the longest on the market are:
  • Slow Shutter Cam (paid iOS): 10.5 years
  • TouchRetouch (paid iOS): 10.2 years
  • Instagram (free iOS): 9.9 years
  • Of the 60 top-downloaded apps only 3 were released in the last 12 months:
  • MoshUp (paid Android): 25 days ago
  • Photo Grid & Video Collage Maker (free Android): 160 days ago
  • VITA – Video Life (free iOS): 262 days ago
5. User ratings
  • Unlike what I’ve found in the past, today’s top downloaded photo & video apps have the same average user ratings on iOS as on Android (in the past we reported that iOS user ratings were higher): 4.4 (out of 5).
  • Where the user ratings do differ, it is between paid and free apps. The free top-downloaded apps have an average user rating of 4.6; paid apps average 4.1. In other words, it appears that users are a bit more critical on apps for which they need to pay.
  • The 3 highest rated app are:
  • Collage Maker – Photo Editor Photo Collage (free Android): 4.9
  • PhotoPills (paid Android, $9.99): 4.9
  • Facetune (paid iOS, $3.99): 4.9
  • The 2 lowest rated apps with rating below 3 are two phone/tv mirroring apps:
  • Screen Mirroring+ App (paid iOS, $2.99): 2.3
  • Mirror for Samsung TV (paid iOS, $4.99): 2.9
  • Since ratings of free apps are higher than those for paid apps, the logical question is then also whether lower priced apps have higher ratings than higher priced apps. There’s no strong evidence for that (correlation coefficient is -0.15, i.e. there is only a slight negative correlation between price and user ratings).
  • Case in point: PhotoPills, a $9.99 app, ranked 2nd highest among the paid Android apps, but has an impressive average user rating of 4.9. (PhotoPills is a nifty photo planning app, which takes various astronomy data into account so that the sun, stars, planets, or moon you’d like to capture in your photo are exactly where you expect them when and where you take your photo).
  • How about the maturity vs. newness of the apps? Here also, the correlation between days on the market and user rating is almost neglectable: 0.27. In other words, older apps have just slightly higher user ratings.
And a few more things… other news
Russell Kirsch passed. The inventor of the digital scanner – and pixel – died at age 91. Most interestingly, at age 81 he said about the pixel being square, “It was something very foolish that everyone in the world has been suffering from ever since.” And then he decided to do something about it through variable-shaped pixel technologies to smooth out pixellated images.
Instagram Reels ain’t TikTok. Is there life after TikTok? According to this NYT review, that life is not coming from Instagram Reels, which it calls a dud. “TikTok might not be winning over President Trump, but it sure beats its Instagram copycat for making and sharing short videos.”
Bill Murray & classic paintings. What, is that Bill Murray in that painting? Artist Eddy Torigoe Pellot thrilled Reddit with a photo-manipulation collage of Bill Murray inserted into several famous paintings, including “American Gothic” and “Whistler’s Mother.”
Adobe is adding technology to tag images with metadata, part of an effort to identify deepfakes and other efforts at manipulation.
Pinterest & skin tones. Finding too many photos with only white people? Pinterest improves and expands its skin tone search feature by enabling users to filter by skin tone to get more relevant results.
New speakers in our Visual 1st 2020 panel: The Visual 1st Alumni Check-in: how are our previously featured photo/video app developer trailblazers doing now? And what’s in store for them?
Ophir Abitbol, Head of Creative Division, Lightricks
If you’re not familiar with Lightricks, they are the developers of Facetune and a rapidly growing collection of photo and video apps. At Visual 1st 2017, co-founder Itai Tsiddon told us that the app stores’ policy change to allow selling subscriptions would enable his company to increase revenues above what he’d otherwise considered a natural ceiling of $10M in annual revenues. Since then the Israeli-based company has tripled its revenues each year over the past three years and became a unicorn with a valuation of over $1 billion after its latest funding round of $135M.
Wayne Liu, SVP and GM of Perfect Corp.
With over 850 million downloads globally (more than doubled since Wayne spoke at our conference 4 years ago), Perfect Corp. is the now 230-person company behind virtual beauty app, YouCam Makeup, and photo editing toolkit, YouCam Perfect. Leveraging the company’s advanced AI-based live facial 3D mesh-creation technology, the YouCam apps provide highly realistic AR experiences for consumers to virtually explore the beautification effects of over 180K beauty product SKUs from over 270 brands, ranging from Yves Saint Laurent to Avon.
Join us at the 2020 Virtual Edition of Visual 1st, October 14-15!
Support our photo & video industry conference and purchase your $99 Early Bird ticket now!
Call for speakers: have an interesting perspective to share in one of our panels, or a photo or video app to demo in one of the Show & Tell session? Let us know!
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