How do Indians spend their free time


Spending time on various activities other than working is essential for boosting creativity and personal growth.

Leisure time plays key role in balancing day to day life. This could be done through pursuing activities like playing sports, online by learning a new skill or just having plain fun by gaming on smartphone.

In this article, we will take a look at activity flow on Indian smartphone users to understand how they tend to spend their time online. These activities are mostly concentrated on smartphones which brings no surprise as the total number of smartphones in India outnumber the total number of Personal Computers.


Online activities are growing rapidly among Indians. As Neilsen pointes out in its article, an average Indian spends time being online 4 times more than offline activities. And 50% of total time spent on smartphones is on social media, video-streaming, and engaging with strangers on dating apps. BGR, a tech blog, has found that Indians are spending more time playing games than watching Netflix.

On a quick note, social media is popular with most of those who own a smartphone and is often used for communication purposes regardless of users’ location. Instead of talking about how people spend time texting others on social media, let’s focus on other interesting and popular app categories like Gaming, Dating, and Video-streaming in India based on App Ape’s data.

Going by AppApe’s data on most used apps per month, it can be said that the number of monthly users continues to keep on growing in those app categories. Some of the applications in Android game category that are currently in the top 3 of Monthly Active User (MAU) usage ranking chart were completely unknown last year. But now, those exact games are being played by millions of users.

This sudden trend of quick adoption of apps should indicate that more and more people have come to own smartphones and are engaging with them during most of their free time.


As mentioned earlier, games are one of the most popular activities among smartphone users. According to data gathered by App Ape, the most played game on Android is PlayerUnknown’sBattlegrounds (PUBG).

PUBG’s popularity is relatively a new phenomenon. Such popularity can be attributed to users having access to inexpensive 4G data plans in combination with flood of cheap smartphones that are available in the Indian smartphone market.

Now that more young people have come to access cheaper data plans, they are willing to take part in this game to connect with other users in the world who turn into mobile gaming to seek enjoyment. This become another contributing factor to PUBG’s popularity and users soaring overnight.

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Ludo king is an Indian classic board game which many Indians played it when they were kids, and now they are able to enjoy it on their mobile devices. Currently, the game is enjoying 2nd position in app game rankings in terms of active users.

The app was developed by Gametion, an Indian developer, which was able to get 55 million users in just under a year. pocketgamer. Nostalgia could have been a big factor in Gametion’s Ludo King success.

The third most popular game is Candy Crush, an app extremely popular game on facebook among Indians in early 2010’s. So popular that game turned many teenagers who are now young adults into casual gamers with some of them even getting addicted to it at some point in their lives. The hindustan times called it as Candy Crush Saga Effect.

Despite its long history of bad reputation, the game is still crushing the 3rd spot.


Dating apps are also rising in popularity due a large, young population. Executives see the possibility for dating apps to be valued at $100 million dollars in the next 5-8 years in India alone. In this section, we will look at Android’s dating category applications. in addition, livemint reports the number of user base to have been tripled since 2018.

Did Tinder come to your mind? I bet it did! According to livemint, since Tinder’s launch in 2017, the app recorded nearly 7.5 million daily swipes and the highest average number of messages exchanged per match in the world.

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You may wonder how come Tinder doesn’t appear here. Well, Tinder is categorized as a Lifestyle app on Google Play Store, hence not appearing on dating category chart. In this particular article, we have decide to put Tinder aside, and look into the top 3 apps which do appear on dating category.

Ok! So, OkCupid, Hinge, and Romeo are currently the top 3 most popular dating apps with highest MAU’s as of June 2019, with a constantly increasing number of monthly users.

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As seen above, the ratio of male and female users are distributed unequally. This is opposite of what livemint mentioned in their article regarding companies believing that their dating apps will be largely driven by females users in India. This claim is yet to be seen as male users still dominate the ratio of total users.

The data from App Ape shows that all these three dating apps are used mostly by 20’s male users.

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The third most popular dating app (in terms of MAU) is a gay dating app which seem to be popular among male users only. (Note: the number of females users may be so little that it has been neglected by our calculations). This is an interesting finding because it could indicate that Indians are now able to express themselves freely as the country has made LGBTQ+ rights legal to some extent since 2018.


According to livemint, the screen time has been increasing yearly. On average, 67 minutes were spent on watching videos online this year. This trend may compliment increase in viewership on video streaming apps as the number of overall users are also increasing.


Out of the available vide-streaming app, Hotstar is the most popular app among Indian viewers with nearly 110+ million monthly active users.

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In India, Cricket played a big role in these over the top video streaming services gaining enormous popularity and is arguably said to be responsible for the highest number of viewership on OTT services. According to techcrunch, during 12th edition of IPL cricket match, nearly 18.6 million people watched the game simultaneously on Hotstar leading to the app breaking its own global records.

Chart below displays the top ranking monthly usage of video streaming apps with Hotstar being the most used app in June 2019, followed by JioTV and Amazon prime video in the entertainment category.

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The primary reason to which these video streaming apps have become so popular is mostly due to offers provided by the telecommunication companies to attract people subscribing to their services such as Reliance Jio’s cheap data plans. Moreover, TV series such as Game of Thrones helped catch the attention of the young, engaging with these services. YourStory

Below image is an example of how Indian phone companies like Airtel are offering free Amazon Prime and Netflix subscriptions to their customers with postpaid plans.


The online activity might have taken over offline activities. However, for many people, having an activity outside of digital life is still considered to be an important part of their daily lives. Some of the popular offline activities in India are learning musical instruments, choreography, photography, cricket, etc. An interesting point about leisure time provided by livemint is that there might be a connection between economic background of households and importance given to leisure time.


Given India’s growing GDP, it is expected that more emphasis will be put on leisure time across the country. Given the huge population of the country, sudden changes to trend of app usage, and sudden policy amendments, one cannot simply specify a clear pattern as to what activities Indians are spending their online time on.

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