Angry Birds, Instagram and Facebook continued to be among the most downloaded apps in 2012.
Consumers spent on average two hours each day using smartphone/tablet applications, an increase of 35%, according to analytics firm Flurry.
"2012 was a transformative tipping point in the way consumers use apps," said Craig Palli, a vice president at mobile marketing company Fiksu, adding that the biggest shift is in consumers' eagerness to turn to apps for a broad range of day-to-day tasks.
Categories such as social networking, media and entertainment and games, continued to the most popular, with YouTube and Angry Birds being the top free and paid apps at Apple's App Store.
Draw Something for iPhone and Android gained widespread popularity when it was released in February, and despite dropping off, is still the second most downloaded paid app of the year on both Android and Apple.
Songza, a music-discovery app for iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire, saw major growth in both the United States and Canada, where it is now one of the top free apps on the App Store.
Paper, a sketchbook app for the iPad, is estimated to be one of the top grossing apps released this year according to Distimo, an app analytics company. It was named by Apple as the iPad app of the year.
But the real revolution, according to Palli, is among consumers who are eager to turn to apps for their day-to-day tasks, such as finding a taxi or hotel, following current events or increasingly, making payments.
Uber and Hailo, which allow users to book limos and taxis, and AirBnB and HotelTonight, for finding accommodations, began to move mainstream in 2012, Palli said.
Payment apps such as Square, and Apple's introduction of the Passbook has further positioned the smartphone as a digital wallet.