Usage was defined by the researchers as a "session," in which a user opened a mobile application and used it. The report was based on data from more than 2 trillion global sessions that occurred in 2014.
Sessions for every app category increased in 2014, though the big overall year-over-year jump in usage was due mainly to triple-digit growth in three categories: lifestyle/shopping, utilities/productivity, and messaging/social.
Sessions on shopping iOS and Android apps combined spiked 174% last year, the biggest percentage increase of any category. On Android alone, the number of sessions in the shopping category increased 220%.
The release of new Microsoft Office apps for iOS and Android in 2014 helped spur 121% more sessions in the utilities/productivity category compared with 2013 levels.
Messaging/social apps, which jumped 115% in sessions in 2013, also posted triple-digit growth in 2014, increasing 103%.
The growth rate in games sessions slowed from 61% in 2013 to 30% in 2014. The music, media, and entertainment growth rate also slowed, dropping from 79% in 2013 to a still robust 33% in 2014.
To better understand the jump in sessions in 2014, the researchers did a deep-dive into shopping app behavior on a select number of Android phones in the United States.
The analysis found consumers tend to use shopping apps most while out and about during the day, with usage spiking between 9 AM and noon. A second spike also tends to occur at home in the evenings, between 5 PM and 9 PM.
About the research: The report was based on data from 2 trillion global mobile app sessions that occurred in 2014. The shopping deep-dive was based on data from a select number of Android phones in the United States.