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The 15 Apps That Millennials & Gen Z Say They Can’t Live Without

We asked 1000 Millennials and Gen Zs to tell us the apps they can’t live without—and Gen Z’s has changed since last year…

This month, we’ve been shining the spotlight on Millennials and Gen Z’s mobile behavior, to what they do on their phones the most, to some of the controversial teen apps of the summer, to sharing the favorite apps of each generation. (Spoiler alert: they aren’t the same.)  

Last year, we found that those apps that they named as their favorite weren’t necessarily the same as those that they saw as necessary. So in our mobile/app behavior survey, we asked 13-35-year-olds, “What is the one app you couldn’t live without?”* This might seem like a dramatic take, but it aligns with the way that young consumers view their devices. Three in five tell us that they’re addicted to their phones, and over four in five say that they always have their phone within reach. While they will clearly still breathe and function without the apps they’ve named here, in their eyes, these platforms have become indispensable, and entwined into their daily behavior. So what are the top apps they say they can’t live without? Here are the 15 most mentioned:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of apps that Millennials and Gen Z say are their favorites—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The lists are ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

What Apps Can’t They Live Without?


  1. Facebook
  2. Snapchat
  3. Instagram
  4. YouTube
  5. Twitter
  6. Facebook Messenger
  7. WhatsApp
  8. Gmail
  9. Google Maps
  10. Spotify
  11. Messages
  12. email
  13. Mail
  14. Safari
  15. Chrome
  16. Maps

Once again, we’ve found that Millennials and Gen Z’s overall favorite app is not the same as the app that they say they can’t live without. While Instagram topped the list of favorite apps among 13-35-year-olds—and won out among 18-35-year-olds—Facebook is the top-ranked app they can’t live without, for the second year in a row. It’s an impressive feat for the social media giant, and when we look at the reasons why young consumers say they can’t live without it, the word “connected” appears again and again. It’s where they stay connected to friends and family, to stay informed, to communicate. One 25-year-old male even said, “It’s what everyone uses to remember each other.” For better or worse, Facebook has established themselves as the connector of young consumers—or, at least one generation of young consumers.

In 2016, Facebook hit the top of this ranking among all groups. But this year, we saw some clear differences between the apps that Millennials say they can’t live without, and those Gen Z say they can’t live without:

Snapchat has stolen Facebook’s spot as the app that Gen Z says they can’t live without—not only that, but the OG social network dropped to number three on their list. Of course, it’s hard to feel too bad for them, considering that three of the top five “can’t live without” apps among both generations are owned by Facebook. 

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.