Investigating the Apps (That Could Be) Made Redundant by iOS 18

Randy Nelson Randy Nelson
3 minute read Jun. 14

This is a single insight from This Week in Apps - Sherlocked!. Check out the full article for more insights.

It's become sort of a guessing game come every WWDC — which app (or type of apps) will Apple “sherlock” in the latest version of iOS. (The term comes from the early 2000s when the Cupertino giant introduced Sherlock 3 and was accused of copying elements of a similar third-party application called Watson; iOS and MacOS have subsumed the functionality of many apps since.)

As it turns out, with iOS 18, Apple isn't potentially replacing an app or type of app with built-in functionality, but potentially multiple, mostly due to the capabilities of Apple Intelligence.

Before moving on, we should note that we looked at apps of each type with more than 1K monthly downloads worldwide. Only apps that will have their core functionality reproduced were considered. We based our analysis on the past 12 months of Appfigures download and revenue estimates.

All told, potentially affected apps have grossed an estimated $393M (about $275M to developers) and been downloaded an estimated 58M times in the last year.

Deducing the Likely Victims

The largest group getting the "Sherlock treatment" isn't at risk of being displaced by Apple's AI endeavors. No, those are running/hiking trail apps led by the king of the hill, AllTrails. (iOS 18 adds similar functionality, including offline trail maps, recommendations, etc.)

These apps account for the vast majority of potentially "sherlocked" revenue (78%) and the single largest group by downloads (40%). In May, that worked out to an estimated $28.8M gross spent by users and 2.5M downloads.

Those numbers have been steadily growing, too. User spending in trail apps is up 28% from a year ago and downloads are up 32%.

Grammar helper apps, which will compete head to head with Apple's similar, AI-based tools integrated deeply in iOS 18, are represented by their flagship, Grammarly. Altogether, they grossed $35.7M in the past 12 months and saw 9.4M downloads.

They brought in an estimated $3.5M last month, and that was up 40% from a year prior. (Downloads have grown 23% year-over-year.)

Math-solving apps, which generate about $23M in yearly spending and 9.5M new installs based on our estimates, and emoji makers with their relatively small $7M grossed annually with 10.6M downloads, are also poised to compete with Apple Intelligence features.

Like trail apps, password managers aren't at risk of losing users from Apple Intelligence, but rather traditional software features. In their case, iOS 18 will introduce a built-in Passwords app that works across the full Apple ecosystem seamlessly.

Password managers for iOS have been growing in popularity at an impressive rate. Downloads last month were 48% higher than 12 months earlier at 457K and gross revenue rose 38% to approximately $2M.

Time to Retool?

A potential lifeline for some of these “at risk” app types is the promise of a vastly improved Siri in iOS 18 that's capable of controlling apps more or less like a human user. This means that not only can developers make their apps more attractive than Apple's alternatives through new, innovative features, but whatever they do will be accessible to Apple Intelligence.

In other words, just because these new features are coming, developers aren't about to see their apps made obsolete overnight. In fact, Apple's features largely won't be as fully featured as third-party alternatives — they will “just” be integrated directly into the operating system.

Yes, some app types will no doubt feel the full "sherlock" sting (looking at you especially, grammar helpers and emoji makers) while others will find growth more challenging. That said, developers who invest in ensuring their apps offer substantial value beyond whatever iOS 18 has built-in will continue to win over users, potentially with Siri's long-overdue brain transplant to thank (and Apple Search Ads).

This insight was written by our Head of Insights, Randy. I hope you like Randy's style.

App Intelligence for Everyone!

The insights in this report come right out of our App Intelligence platform, which offers access to download and revenue estimates, installed SDKs, and more! Learn more about the tools or schedule a demo with our team to get started.

Are you a Journalist? You can get access to our app and market intelligence for free through the Appfigures for Journalists program. Contact us for more details.

All figures included in this report are estimated. Unless specified otherwise, estimated revenue is always net, meaning it's the amount the developer earned after Apple and Google took their fee.

Tagged: #apple

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