An Auckland man's side-gig paid off, big time, during 2019.

A North Shore web developer Leandro Palmieri, aka Beetix, is behind the app that topped Apple's chart of NZ's most-downloaded paid iPhone apps for the year.

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The tech giant has just revealed the most popular apps for New Zealanders, across several categories (see full lists below).


And it was Palmieri's NZ Driving Theory Test, which sells for $6.99 a pop.

He prefers not to say how many copies were downloaded - but every user paid. Unfashionably - but successfully - Palmieri did not run with a "freemium" model. That is, some free content with an in-app purchase option to unlock the full features. Rather, users had to pay the full whack upfront.

Palmieri first developed NZ Driving Theory Test in 2013, after spotting a gap in the market.

"I wanted to make it look and feel like a driving quiz by theming it accordingly while keeping it clean and easy to use," he said.

He's reinvested his profits in new kit and developing an Android version of Driving Theory, plus the 99 cent NZ Passport Photo app for helping people shoot a passport photo to DIA specs, and SherlockCam, which adds information about where and when photos are taken (see his full range under the Beetix moniker here).

The 41-year-old's portfolio is growing but he's kept on his day job as a senior developer at North Shore web agency Toast.

His app has spawned a raft of imitations, including Road Code Learners Test NZ ($6.99), which came in at number 4.

Coastguard NZ's trip-logging Coastguard App ($3.49), developed in part by grants from Maritime NZ and BayTrust, who chipped in $100,000 and helped raise another $146,000 toward its development, came in at number two.

And Lower Hutt company Right Place Resources also made Apple's paid iPhone app chart with two of its topographic map efforts utilising Linz data (both $6.99): NZ Topo50 South Island (at 7) and NZ Topo50 North Island (at 15).

Image / NZ Game Calls
Image / NZ Game Calls

And NZ Game Calls ($3.49), developed by Aaron Newnham - who bills himself as a self-employed app developer - came in at number 24.

Newnham promotes his app as a cheaper alternative to electronic game callers - though he recommends attaching your phone to a Bluetooth speaker for best results.

His effort has drawn rave reviews from deer, duck and other hunters.

One user review said, "I was a bit hesitant to use it. However, the other day I drove down the Hollyford Road (South Island ) to see if anything was still roaring. I used your app amplified through the speakers in my truck [and] had an instant reply! The stag was quite worked up and crashed right to within 50m of my truck. Wicked app! worth the purchase! Well done!"

Image / NZ Game Calls
Image / NZ Game Calls

Elsewhere on the paid app chart, paying to avoid ads was a popular theme.

Sky Guide (19) and SkyView (30) - which both let you point your phone's camera at the night sky then automatically identify stars and planets - can be downloaded free, then prompt you to upgrade to a paid version to avoid constant pop-up promotions.

Apple, which typically takes a 30 per cent cut on App Store sales, says that since App Store launched in 2008, developers have earned over US$155 billion, with a quarter of those earnings coming from the past year alone.

App Store spending totaled US$1.4 billion ($1.99b) between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, up 16 per cent from the same period in 2018, the company said in a blog post.

The most popular free iPhone apps charts are dominated by the familiar big names - Instagram, Facebook Messenger, YouTube et al - but Spark and Vodafone NZ's self-apps do make the Top 30, as do TVNZ, ANZ and Air NZ's apps.

And on of the multinational apps - McDonalds' effort - was developed by Auckland company Plexure, which has developed a global business on the success of its worldwide contract with the fast-food maker.

And in the free iPad app chart, locals TVNZ, Trade Me, 3Now, Sky Go, Spark Sport (a free download but with pay-to-view content) and recent Spark acquisition Lightbox (ditto) feature.

AfterPay was the most popular of the new wave of buy-now, pay-later apps sweeping into NZ from across the Tasman. It came in at 27 on the free iPhone app chart.

Top free iPhone apps

NZ, 2019

1 Instagram
2 Facebook Messenger
3 YouTube
4 WhatsApp Messenger
5 Snapchat
6 Netflix
7 Facebook
8 Spotify
9 TikTok
10 Gmail
11 Uber Eats
12 Lime
13 McDonald's
14 Google Maps
15 Uber
16 Wish
17 FaceApp - AI Face Editor
18 Google Chrome
19 Trade Me
20 Ola Cabs
22 Google Home
23 Google Docs
24 My Vodafone NZ
25 Spark NZ
26 Google Drive
27 Afterpay
28 Air NZ mobile app
29 Bitmoji
30 ANZ goMoney NZ

Top paid iPhone apps

NZ, 2019

1 NZ Driving Theory Test
2 Coastguard NZ
3 The Wonder Weeks
4 Road Code Learners Test NZ
5 Te Reo Māori
6 Monash University FODMAP diet
7 NZ Topo50 South Island
8 Forest - Stay focused
9 Facetune
10 Sezzy Timer
11 PlantSnap Pro: Identify Plants
12 Arrowhead Alarm Products Elite
13 Afterlight — Photo Editor
14 AutoSleep Tracker for Watch
15 NZ Topo50 North Island
16 Topo GPS New Zealand
17Procreate Pocket
18 TouchRetouch
19 Sky Guide
20 Full Fitness : Exercise Workout Trainer
21 MarineTraffic - Ship Tracking
22 WOT Baby
23 kirakira+
25 WikiCamps New Zealand
26 HappyCow Find Vegan Food
27 Parenting Baby's Brain
28 Boating Australia&NZ
29 Hear My Baby Heartbeat Monitor
30 SkyView

Top free iPad apps

NZ, 2019

1 Netflix
2 YouTube
3 Messenger
5 Google Chrome
6 Gmail
7 Spotify Get music and podcasts
8 Calculator ٞ
9 Facebook
10 TikTok
11 Google Docs
12 Google Drive
13 Minecraft: Education Edition
14 Spark Sport
15 Wish
16 ThreeNow
17 Google Maps
18 Trade Me
19 Microsoft Word
20 Google Home
21 Google Slides
22 YouTube Kids
23 Drum Pad Machine - Beat Maker
24 Lightbox NZ
25 Google
26 Google Sheets
>strong>27 Google Earth
29 Microsoft Outlook
30 YouTube Music

Top paid iPad apps

NZ, 2019

1 Procreate
2 Notability
3 GoodNotes 5
4 Book Creator for iPad
5 Duet Display
6 GoodReader PDF Editor & Viewer
7 PDF Expert 7: PDF Editor
8 Toca Hair Salon 3
9 NZ Driving Theory Test
10 LumaFusion
11 Green Screen by Do Ink
12 Nebo Professional note-taking
13 Toca Life: Neighborhood
14 Affinity Designer
15 Teach Your Monster to Read
16 Explain EDU
17 Affinity Photo
18 Popplet
19 Math Bingo
20 Amaziograph
21 Scanner Pro: PDF Scanner App
22 forScore
23 PDF Converter by Readdle
24 Little Kitten -My Favorite Cat
25 Strip Designer
26 Notes Plus
27 Toca Kitchen 2
28 Messaging for Whatsapp Chat
29 RoughAnimator - animation app
30 Puppet Pals HD Director's Pass

Top free iPhone games

NZ, 2019

1 Color Bump 3D
3 Monopoly at Macca's App NZ
4 Fun Race 3D
5 8 Ball Pool
6 Wordscapes
7 BitLife - Life Simulator
8 Call of Duty: Mobile
10 Fortnite
11 Stack Ball 3D
12 Roller Splat!
13 Polysphere - art of puzzle
14 Helix Jump
15 Mario Kart Tour
16 Drive and Park
17 Subway Surfers
18 Homescapes
19 Draw it
20 Episode - Choose Your Story
21 Traffic Run!
22 Pick Me Up
23 2
24 Run Race 3D
25 Word Stacks
26 Stickman Hook
27 Clean Road
28 Roblox
29 r Bullet - Spy Puzzles
30 AMAZE!!!

Top paid iPhone games

NZ, 2019

1 Minecraft
2 Plague Inc.
3 Heads Up!
4 Bloons TD 6
5 True Skate
6 Bloons TD 5
7 Papa's Freezeria To Go!
8 Rebel Inc.
9 Pocket Build
10 Geometry Dash
11 The Game of Life
12 Earn to Die 2
13 Stardew Valley
14 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
15 Terraria
16 Kingdom Rush Vengeance
17 Farming Simulator 18
18 Alto's Odyssey
19 The Chase Australia
20 Doodle Jump
21 Pocket City
22 NBA 2K20
23 Exploding Kittens
24 Scribblenauts Remix
25 Infinite Flight Simulator
26 Real Drift Car Racing
27Rugby Nations 18
28 Cluedo: The Official Edition
29 Evertale
30 Pocket City

Top free iPad games

NZ, 2019

2 Roblox
3 Color Bump 3D
4 Fun Race 3D
5 Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game
6 Stack Ball 3D
7 Polysphere - art of puzzle
8 Wordscapes
9 Helix Jump
10 Fortnite
11 Homescapes
12 Draw it
13 Tiles Hop - EDM Rush
14 Run Race 3D
15 Kick the Buddy: Forever
16 Happy Glass
17 2
18 Subway Surfers
19 Stickman Hook
20 Word Stacks
21 Mr Bullet - Spy Puzzles
22 Words Story
24 Tank Stars
25 Tomb of the Mask
26 House Paint
27 Jelly Shift
28 Matchington Mansion
29 8 Ball Pool
30 My Talking Tom 2

Top paid iPad games

NZ, 2019

1 Minecraft
2 Plague Inc.
3 Geometry Dash
4 Bloons TD 6
5 Terraria
6 True Skate
7 The Game of Life
8 Stardew Valley
9 Farming Simulator 18
10 Rebel Inc.
11 Earn to Die 2
12 Goat Simulator
13 Heads Up!
14 Kingdom Rush Vengeance
15 The Room: Old Sins
16 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
17 The Room
18 LEGO Jurassic World
19 Scribblenauts Remix
20 Pocket Build
21 Five Nights at Freddy's
22 Infinite Flight Simulator
23 Incredibox
24 The Escapists: Prison Escape
25 Scribblenauts Unlimited
26 Amazing Frog?
27 Alto's Odyssey
28 LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin
29 Football Manager 2019 Mobile
30 The Room Three