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China's Top Mobile Apps Of 2014

I have been amazed by the growth of China’s mobile apps these past couple years. Since Google Play is blocked in China, app developers are forced to upload their apps on various third party app markets (I literally found over 200 app stores!)

The basic purpose or utility of top apps in China are fairly similar with what you see in the States, but you will find many differences in terms of their design and user experiences, as well as some unique features (e.g., in Baidu Maps, you can find a temporary driver to drive your own car if you’ve had too much to drink).

See below for a list of fascinating or interesting apps from China.

A few things to note:

  • To be fair, I purposely link back to the official website, not a specific app store.
  • For iOS installs, most developers direct users back to Apple’s App Store, but some do provide .IPA install files.
  • For Android, most developers provide Android APKs for direct install instead of driving traffic back to app stores.
  • For each category, I selected the top 2 apps with the highest installs and ratings in all major markets.

Messenger apps

Wechat is one of the strongest Whatsapp rivals overseas with over 400 million users. Chinese users love its simple design plus many advanced features including video chat, games, shopping, payment, etc.

Photo Apps

Chinese loves taking selfies as much as we do in the US. Accordingly Meitu’s official website, it has over 750 million mobile users. I especially love its ‘make me taller’ feature. J Perfect for me!

Video Apps

Many Chinese workers in major cities commute an hour or more to work each way. During their commute, they will turn their attention to watching mobile videos or listening to music. You can download many videos for free, which save users’ mobile bandwidth.

Music Apps

All Chinese music apps support free music download.

Browser Apps

Browsers in China are more than just for searching. Typical UI usually includes a giant sitemap, which makes it a lot easier for navigation and saves users time from typing complicated Chinese.

P.S. Dolphin Browser (my favorite browser) is not top 2 yet in China, but soon!

Map Apps

China is a big country and of course you need maps. In addition to providing directions, interactive maps, and satellite imagery of many cities and countries, map apps also provides off-line maps, weather, and local shopping information.

Security Apps

Smartphones get stolen often in big cities. To project their phones, Chinese like to install security apps like Qihoo’s 360, which is the leader in mobile security space with over 50% market share (according to China Internet Watch).

Cloud Storage Apps

Dropbox and Google Drive are not accessible and mostly unstable, so Baidu & Tencent provide their own alternative options.

P.S. ‘Yun’ means cloud in China.

Payment Apps

Alibaba’s Alipay is definitely the leader in the Chinese mobile payment market with over 54% of transactions coming from mobile devices. Having a mobile wallet is a must in China.

Mail Apps

Similar to other mail apps you see in the States, most Chinese mail apps support American mail services including Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo, plus Chinese mail services providers including 163, 126 and QQ mail.

Marriage Apps

Most Chinese parents start pressuring their kids if they are not married by the age of 30. These apps are for serious marriage arrangements and many of them provide blind date services.

Flirting Apps

Feeling lonely? Momo and iAround are mostly for the younger crowd who want to connect with people close to their geo location.

Reading Apps

Chinese love reading fiction books during their commute, and eBook readers have become very popular.

News Apps

In addition to reading, you can also listen or watch the news on these apps. Great features!


Chinese love shopping! Last year, Alibaba smashed its own record on China’s Singles’ Day with $9.3B in sales.

Women Shopping

Should not be a surprise to say that women particularly love shopping. These Pinterest-like mobile shopping apps are very popular and also provide group-buying options.

Taxi Apps

Similar to Uber & Lyft, DiDi and Kuadi are the two dominant taxi apps in China.

Women Health Apps

Having menstruation cramps is very common among Chinese women. These period-tracking apps predict period cycles based on historical patterns and offer health tips to avoid cramps.

Local Listing

Similar to Craigslist, 58 provides local classifieds and forums for jobs, housing, for sale, personals, services, local community, and events for all major cities in China. Similar to Yelp, Dianping provides user reviews, and recommendations for top restaurants, shopping and entertainment.

Third-Party Market Apps

Google Play is not really stable in China and not pre-installed on most Android phones. Most users turn to these third-party market apps instead.

Hope you enjoyed this long list and please comment to include any apps I might have missed!

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