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NHS App is most downloaded free iPhone app this year - beating WhatsApp, Zoom and TikTok

The official NHS App has been named Britain's most downloaded free app by UK iPhone users in 2021 - beating WhatsApp, Zoom and even TikTok to the top spot.

The software - which can be used to show a person's vaccination status and Covid Pass for events and travel - topped the free to download list in this year's Apple Store Awards.

The much-maligned and entirely separate NHS Covid-19 App - used as part of the Government's Test and Trace scheme and which was blamed for causing the 'pingdemic' earlier this year - featured 11th on the list. 

The NHS App finished ahead of messaging service WhatsApp and video social media site TikTok - both giants of the app world.

It also beat video service Youtube, along with Snapchat, Facebook, Google Maps and Facebook Messenger - which have all already been downloaded millions of times. 

Microsoft Teams – which came to prominence during the pandemic as millions shifted to video conferencing for work, school and socialising - also made the list.

Rival conference call app Zoom was the most downloaded free iPad app. 

The official NHS App has been named Britain's most downloaded free app by UK iPhone users in 2021 - beating WhatsApp, Zoom and even TikTok to the top spot

The top 20 free apps downloaded by UK iPhone users in 2021 


WhatsApp Messenger



YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream

Microsoft Teams



Google Maps



Uber Eats




Shop (Package & order tracker)

Gmail - Email by Google

My McDonald’s UK  



The NHS App, originally released in 2018 so people could easily check medical records and book GP appointments on their phones, was adapted earlier this year as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In May the function to display a person's Covid vaccination status was added to be used by people travelling overseas.

This feature was later given the name 'NHS COVID Pass' and began to be used by venues and businesses in England.

As of June 2021, the app had almost 5 million monthly users. But by mid-July, eight weeks after the addition of COVID-19 vaccination status, over 10 million users had registered with the app.

It is separate to the NHS Covid-19 App, which also featured in the top 20 most downloaded free apps, which is used as part of the Government's contact tracing system.

The app, launched in September 2020 as part of the Government's multi billion-pound Test and Trace programme, can be used to 'check in' to restaurants, pubs and bars by scanning QR codes.

This alerts the venue and those at the venue if there has been a Covid outbreak and at what time.

The app can also detect if a person has been within 2 metres of someone with coronavirus for 15 minutes or more and then 'pings' to tell a person that they need to isolate.

But the app came under fire earlier this year after telling hundreds of thousands of people to self-isolate - sparking staff shortages in a number of industries - in what became known as the 'pingdemic'.

The software was eventually 'fine turned' amid claims it was 'too sensitive'.

Despite the criticism, it was the 11th most downloaded free app on iPhones in the UK in 2021.

Meanwhile, on iPad downloads it was Zoom that finished top of the pile ahead of Teams, YouTube, Netflix and Disney+.

The top paid-for iPhone app was Driving Theory Test 4 in 1 Kit, with the artistic app Procreate the most popular paid-for iPad download.

The NHS App finished ahead of messaging service WhatsApp and video social media site TikTok - both giants of the app world. Pictured: Library image

Conference call app Zoom was the most downloaded free iPad app by UK users in 2021

In its annual awards, children's world creation title Toca Life World was named iPhone App of the Year, with video editor LumaFusion picking up the Best iPad App award.

iPhone Game of the Year was League Of Legends: Wild Rift, and on the iPad it was Marvel Future Revolution.

'The developers who won App Store Awards in 2021 harnessed their own drive and vision to deliver the best apps and games of the year, sparking the creativity and passion of millions of users around the world,' Apple boss Tim Cook said.

'From self-taught indie coders to inspiring leaders building global businesses, these standout developers innovated with Apple technology, with many helping to foster the profound sense of togetherness we needed this year.'

Document and file editor Craft was named Mac App of the year, with the remake of classic puzzle game Myst named Mac Game of the Year.

The awards also featured a number of apps being celebrated for their contribution to Apple's trend of the year – connection.

They included the UK-founded Peanut, a community space for women to discuss all the aspects of womanhood including relationships, pregnancy, menopause and self-care.

NatWest customers are unable to access their accounts as bank's website and app go down 

NatWest customers have been left unable to access their accounts today (December 2) after the bank's website and phone app went down. 

Tracking site Down Detector has logged more than 3,000 reports of outages today, with a huge spike in complaints beginning at around 7am. 

More than half (57%) of those relate to 'mobile banking', while a quarter (26%) are 'mobile login' problems and 17% are for 'online banking' generally. 

At 7.07am there were 143 problems reported, rising sharply to 1,373 at 7.22am and reaching a peak of 3,210 complaints by 7.52am.  

The error message users were presented with when trying to log in to NatWest this morning

Frustrated app users flooded the bank with complaints this morning asking for the issue to be resolved. 

Emma Louise Delaney said: 'Anyone else having problems accessing the NatWest app this morning?'

Mary Sheridan wrote: 'I'm having problems too. I have excellent WiFi and the latest version of the app. Have restarted my phone but still getting error message.'

Nicola Louise said: 'I’m not able to get in either. Clearly there is an issue.' 

And one user named Chlo wrote: 'Your app is down, sort it out!' 

Replying to one customer who asked how long it would take to fix the problem, the NatWest Twitter help account said: 'We are aware of an issue with the app this morning and are working hard to resolve this as quickly as we can. 

'I do apologise for any inconvenience caused by this.'

MailOnline has contacted the bank for comment.