In 2018, there were 300,000 utility apps in the Google Play store and, in 2020, the category ranked 5th in popularity compared to other categories, which means a solid reputation and high brand recognition for your utility app is important to encourage growth in this competitive landscape. 

Utility apps are meant to make our lives easier, and is the category of apps we use most often but for the shortest periods of time. Types of utility apps include photo editing apps, calculator apps, password collection apps, security apps, flashlights, keyboards, translators, and more. 

Due to the efficiency that utility apps provide in our lives, 96.36% of smartphone users have a utility app on their device. There’s room for your utility app in this ever growing market, but being the utility app of choice is not an easy thing to accomplish and measuring growth is a difficult and unique task. Here are some steps you should take from day one to build brand recognition, improve your reputation, and grow your utility app’s user base in this unique market. 

Security is a must 

With 81% of Americans thinking that the potential risks of data collection by companies about them outweigh the benefits, it is clear that people value privacy more than anything else. Security is especially important for utility apps, which people expect to do everything and anything for them - utility and tools apps often need access to personal and private info. Offering users a flawless and secure app can gain you a valuable and trusted reputation. 

If you need to request access to certain personally identifiable information, do so in a clear yet concise way. 45% of the most popular Android apps request tracking location, but most do so because they need location to run their daily operations. For users, providing this information is necessary, but can seem threatening. It’s important to be open and honest with users about the data you are collecting, while not overwhelming them with confusing explanations. On top of that, you should only ask for permission to access information that is absolutely necessary to daily functioning. If you do want to ask for additional permissions, always give context at runtime. 

For example, a certain utility app originally required users to swipe through four screens explaining the app’s purpose in depth before arriving at a screen that begged users to provide their location. Only 30% of users responded yes to the permission screen and moved on. The app tested a method that assumed the user already knew why the app would need their location. The welcome flow was less interruptive and the permission screen was changed to say, “Enable location permissions,” making it clear that it was for their benefit. After the shift, 95% of users said yes and went on to a valuable user experience.

Now that your app is secure, you can focus on the users themselves. While some app categories focus on acquiring new users, utility apps are in a unique position to focus on long-term users and engagement. 

Focus on long-term users

Utility apps had the highest retention rate of any category at 44% in 2018, which means focusing on retention is a valuable metric for utility apps. With 65% of a company’s business coming from existing customers, finding long term users for your utility apps is the best way to increase brand recognition and reputation. 

Marketing towards long-term users is a long term-process. The first way to attract more long-term users is to bundle your app with other utility apps, to offer a full set of tools for your users to take advantage of. Further, with over 70% of consumers more likely to recommend a brand if it has a good loyalty program, offering special discounts, rewards, additional services or other benefits applicable to your business is a good way to keep users around and increase the amount of people who recommend your app. 

Testing is vital to the growth of your utility app and keeping track of long-term users. By the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, which means testing the initial customer onboarding experience to find out what keeps users engaged is important for long term growth. You can also test the incentives behind why users stick around. 

If possible, it is also valuable to run a paid user acquisition campaign to reach a more relevant and wider audience that will likely be interested in your app. 

Get a carrier’s stamp of approval and try out Aura 

Apps get a better reputation when recommended by trusted carriers who have already gained extensive brand recognition. Further, long term engagement begins at the start of a device lifecycle. With 95% of users installing apps in the first 48 hours of owning a device, paying for presence at that moment is valuable to early on recognition. 

ironSource’s Aura is a platform that partners directly with carriers and OEMs to put your utility app in front of millions of device owners every day at times they are most likely to engage. Using an AI algorithm and unique parameters to reach the right users, Aura puts your utility app in front of users, first when they’re setting up their new device and then throughout the device lifecycle. 

Aura’s push notifications ensure that your utility app is being recognized by the right users at prime moments suitable to them - which is vital to recognition and reputation. 


At the end of the day, utility apps are not going anywhere as the world becomes more reliant on technology to accomplish everyday, seamless tasks. On average in 2019, American adults spent 3 hours and 30 minutes on their phones, and this number is expected to exceed 4 hours in 2021. As the number of apps grow and the amount of time we spend on our phones get bigger, brand recognition and reputation is vital to ensure your utility app is at the top of the charts. 

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