Overall app usage increased by 76 per cent during 2014, with the retail and utility categories making particularly strong progress, according to the latest figures from analytics firm Flurry.

Along with messaging apps, titles in the shopping and utilities & productivity categories were the main drivers of this increase in usage with each seeing triple-digit growth during the year.

App usage is defined by Flurry as a user opening an app and recording a session. Every app category saw an increase in sessions.

Flurry suggested that 2014 saw less emphasis on games and entertainment and more on apps that help with daily tasks, showing how smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly part of everyday life.

This view is supported by the fact that Microsoft released its Office apps for Apple and Android devices and acquired the Acompli email app last year.

The past year also saw retail on mobile take off, according to Flurry. Sessions on shopping apps on iOS and Android increased by 174 per cent year-on-year, with Android alone seeing a 220 per cent rise.

According to ComScore, US retailer Target found that 68 per cent of time customers spent on its mobile services in 2014 were within an app, with the remainder accessing services via the web. The figure was just 21 per cent in 2013.

Messaging apps came to the fore in 2013 and the category still saw a triple-digit growth in usage in 2014, due in part to many becoming platforms for a number of other services.

Growth in game usage slowed from 61 per cent in 2013 to 30 per cent in 2014, suggesting the category is maturing. Music, Media and Entertainment saw a slower growth in usage: 33 per cent compared with 79 per cent in 2013.

“This double-digit growth is impressive in any context, but we are witnessing a shift where the growth in mobile has moved from apps for entertainment to apps that help us accomplish our daily tasks,” Flurry CEO Simon Khalaf noted in a blog post.