Mobile app use doubles, social apps triple in 2013: Report

Devin Coldewey / NBC News

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By Devin Coldewey

The mobile world is growing at breakneck pace, according to the latest data from app analytics company Flurry: usage of apps on average doubled over the last year, and some categories posted even greater gains.

It's important to note that this data is not per user, but total — in other words, much of the growth comes from more people getting smartphones, not just from people opening apps more.

Even so, the rate of increase is remarkable, especially that of the "messaging and social" category of apps, which grew in use by 203 percent during 2013. This includes the obvious players, like Twitter and Facebook, but also new and promising chat apps and platforms like WhatsApp and China's WeChat.

App use overall went up 115 percent, and no category lost ground.Flurry

Such apps are both replacing SMS and providing new and interesting ways for mobile users to interact, from trading silly videos in Snapchat to doing group audio without using up valuable minutes.

"Utilities and productivity" also saw a major uptick as more phones continue to grow as tools for work: secure email, shared documents, remote access, and other office-friendly tasks are being used more than ever.

Flurry's data set was enormous: the company tracked 4.7 billion app "sessions" (i.e. opening email to read or send something) in one day, and over the year had amassed 1.126 trillion to mine for data. As the company says on its blog, "if the first few days of January are any indication, the mobile world is looking at another major growth year."

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is