The anonymous question-and-answer app NGL accrued nearly 20 million installs in a little more than six months after its launch—and it’s not the only app that is leaning on anonymity as a selling factor.
Sensor Tower’s App Intelligence reveals that 515 apps have either launched with the keyword “anonymous” or updated their titles and descriptions to include that term in the first half of 2022. Although this lags behind the number of apps with the keyword in the first half of 2021, the cohort has grown larger each year since 2014.
In 2014, 527 apps launched or updated their descriptions with the keyword “anonymous.” This figure has climbed nearly every year since then, with an uptick in velocity in 2019. In 2021, the number of anonymous apps grew to 1,257—nearly two and a half times the size of the cohort in 2014.
This growth could potentially be attributed to increasing consumer consciousness around topics of data privacy, as well as world events such as protests that led users to search for anonymous and encrypted mobile apps.
The most downloaded active app in the cohort studied was Safe Security, which has reached nearly 448 million worldwide installs to date. It also surfaces another use case for anonymous features in apps: In its description, it highlights how it enables users to block anonymous callers.
Tool apps such as Safe Security saw the biggest growth as a category, with 446 apps launching or updating in 2021. Many in this category are virtual private networks (VPNs) and messengers, or advertise themselves as security apps.
The second largest category was Social with 172 anonymous apps, followed by Dating with 137 anonymous apps in 2021.
Data privacy is one of the salient touchpoints of technology, evidenced by adoption surging for encrypted messaging apps during times of crisis as well as discussions around whether consumers should use period-tracking apps that could potentially expose their personal data. Demand for user anonymity can also be seen in social media apps, with platforms such YikYak passing the torch on to viral sensations such as NGL.
As consumers and lawmakers call for more transparency and data privacy from app makers, the number of anonymous apps will likely only continue to grow, for both safety as well as entertainment.
Sensor Tower's platform is an enterprise-level offering. Interested in learning more?
Written by: Stephanie Chan, Mobile Insights Strategist
Date: September 2022