Even without analyzing millions of driving data points like we do at Drivemode, it should be no surprise that the most common, or primary, apps to use while driving are music, navigation, and messaging apps.
But with more apps available than ever before, drivers are becoming more adventurous in what they launch while behind the wheel. These “secondary apps,” as we call them, include video streaming, social media, podcast managers, and even a particular mobile game. Analyzing trends in these apps plays an important role in predicting what drivers would expect from a connected car experience. To learn more about this driving behavior in the US, Drivemode reviewed the data of over 757K anonymized Android users and 27K individual app launches of the 30 most popular secondary apps after messaging, navigation, and music.
Overall, we learned that in this era of being ever-connected, a predominant desire of drivers is access to video content. Anecdotally, we have heard that Drivemode users access YouTube videos for the music, not necessarily for the visual content and we suspect that unlimited video streaming services offered by some phone carriers are likely contributing to this trend.
- YouTube is consistently the most popular app to use while driving after messaging, navigation and music. YouTube’s autoplay functionality on music videos creates ad hoc playlists, likely appealing to drivers. Long-form video and/or podcast-style videos may also be attracting drivers who want to listen to the content and who may or may not be watching as well.
- Over the past four quarters, YouTube went from 20.5% of top-10 app launches to 36.9% of launches. The graph below shows YouTube’s steadily increasing lead.
- Text-based audio apps, such as podcasts and books, make a strong showing in the top 30, with Audible steadily holding the Number 2 position. While music streaming is by far the most popular mobile audio experience, the desire for other audio content continues to grow, reflecting drivers’ diverse needs and expectations for entertainment while driving.
- Pokemon Go saw a major spike in Q1 2017, likely due to a popular update which brought collaborative multiplayer raids and a gym overhaul.
- Facebook is consistently in the top 6 but has held strong in the number 3 position since Q4, 2017. Instagram is still relatively low, but is increasing in popularity, breaking into the top ten earlier in 2018.
- 3 of the top 30 apps are speedometer apps which is notable because drivers should know their speed based on their installed speedometer. However, the desire to use an app is likely a response to a suboptimal visual design of the native speedometer. Drivers turning to external speed apps reveals a need for automakers to address in-car graphical interfaces more effectively.
- The in-car use of retail apps such as Starbucks or Checkpoints is a potential indicator of location-based consumption while driving in a connected era. There is a clear market opportunity here for retail businesses to address this demand without compromising driver safety.
- An unexpected app to make it into the top 30 is a Bible app which has increased in popularity since the beginning of the year. For its target audience, the audio read-out feature is likely an appealing replacement for music apps. This also confirms how lifestyle apps can stay relevant and accessible to drivers by supporting audio features.
“While our study covers a specific population of US Android drivers technologically savvy enough to use a safe driving app, it’s reasonable to see how these trends may extend to the US driving population at large,” said Yo Koga, founder and CEO of Drivemode. “Whether we like it or not, it is clear that video streaming is a top feature drivers want now. Given this drastic growth, video streaming apps would do well to take direct action and offer an “audio only” mode. As we know from Pokemon Go, asking users to tap a small button confirming they are actually a passenger is not a sufficient deterrent.”
As drivers are bringing technology into their cars, there is also a critical need for automakers offering semi-autonomous technology to address the issue of video streaming. While it is likely drivers are currently using video content for the audio, as more cars become semi-autonomous, drivers will be more tempted to watch what is on the screen because of the incorrect perception that their attention to the road is unnecessary. Koga said, “Anyone who cares about automotive safety should be monitoring these behavioral trends carefully.”
Below are the quarterly rankings for these most popular apps used by Drivemode drivers from January 2017 through June 2018.
|RANK||Q1 2017||Q2 2017||Q3 2017||Q4 2017||Q1 2018||Q2 2018|
|3||BARD Books Library||Torque Pro: Vehicle Diagnostics||Uber Driver|
|4||Pokemon GO||Overdrive: Ebooks and Videos||Torque Pro: Vehicle Diagnostics||Uber Driver||Uber Driver||Overdrive: Ebooks and Videos|
|5||DoggCatcher Podcast Manager||DoggCatcher Podcast Manager||Lyft Driver||Netflix||Netflix||Netflix|
|6||Torque Pro: Vehicle Diagnostics||BARD Books Library||Overdrive: Ebooks and Videos||Torque Pro: Vehicle Diagnostics||Torque Pro: Vehicle Diagnostics||Digihud Speedometer|
|7||BeyondPod Podcast Manager||Checkpoints Rewards App||Netflix||Overdrive: Ebooks and Videos||Pokemon GO||Garage Controller|
|8||Overdrive: Ebooks and Videos||Lyft Driver||Overdrive: Ebooks and Videos||Kindle App|
|9||Stitcher Podcast Manager||Chrome Web Browser||Chrome Web Browser||Garage Controller||Speed Radar|
|10||Uber Driver||Uber Driver||Speed Radar||Speed Radar||Uber Driver|
|11||Checkpoints Rewards App||Netflix||Pokemon GO||Starbucks App||Lyft Driver||Stitcher Podcast Manager|
|12||Stitcher Podcast Manager||Pokemon GO||playerFM||Hulu||Hulu|
|13||Gas Buddy||playerFM||Gas Buddy||WBUR Podcasts||WBUR Podcasts||playerFM|
|14||Google Quicksearch||BeyondPod Podcast Manager||Starbucks App||Gas Buddy||Digihud Speedometer||Torque Pro: Vehicle Diagnostics|
|15||Starbucks App||Chrome Web Browser||Stitcher Podcast Manager||Pokemon GO||Chrome Web Browser||Gas Buddy|
|16||Netflix||Gas Buddy||NPR One Audio News||Garage Controller||Speed Radar||WBUR Podcasts|
|17||Chrome Web Browser||Google Quicksearch||Checkpoints Rewards App||Stitcher Podcast Manager||Bible App||Bible App|
|18||NPR One Audio News||WBUR Podcasts||playerFM||Kindle App||BeyondPod Podcast Manager|
|19||WBUR Podcasts||Calendar||BeyondPod Podcast Manager||Kindle App||Gas Buddy||Starbucks App|
|20||playerFM||Bible App||DoggCatcher Podcast Manager||Calendar||Google Quicksearch||Lyft Driver|
|21||NPR One Audio News||Hulu||Calendar||NPR One Audio News||Starbucks App||NPR One Audio News|
|22||Lyft Driver||Starbucks App||BARD Books Library||Google Quicksearch||BeyondPod Podcast Manager||Checkpoints Rewards App|
|23||Digihud Speedometer||Kindle App||Bible App||Checkpoints Rewards App||Checkpoints Rewards App||Pokemon GO|
|24||Speed Radar||Digihud Speedometer||Google Quicksearch||DoggCatcher Podcast Manager||NPR One Audio News||Chrome Web Browser|
|25||Calendar||Lyft Driver||Hulu||Stitcher Podcast Manager||Google Quicksearch|
|26||Speedometer Pro||Speed Radar||Garage Controller||BARD Books Library||BARD Books Library||DoggCatcher Podcast Manager|
|27||Garage Controller||Kindle App||Bible App||Calendar||Calendar|
|28||Kindle App||Speedometer Pro||Speedometer Pro||BeyondPod Podcast Manager||DoggCatcher Podcast Manager||BARD Books Library|
|29||Bible App||Garage Controller||Digihud Speedometer||Digihud Speedometer||playerFM||Hulu|
|30||Hulu||WBUR Podcasts||Speedometer Pro||Speedometer Pro||Speedometer Pro|