• Lemon8 was No. 9 Tuesday on the App Store's Top Apps except games
  • Helophilia is listed as the developer but past reports pointed to ByteDance as the owner
  • ByteDance reportedly pays creators to post photos with captions of up to 300 words

ByteDance-owned and previously unranked Lemon8 has jumped to the Top 10 overall app ranks on the U.S. App Store as the Chinese tech company's battle for TikTok retention in the United States heats up. The Instagram rival is described as a "lifestyle community" app that allows for content sharing among users.

Deemed as a possible TikTok backup plan, Lemon8 shot up to No. 10 on the overall ranks on the U.S. App Store across both games and apps Monday before moving up one more spot to No. 9 Tuesday on the Top Apps ranks on all apps except games, TechCrunch reported. The app is also ranked No. 42 in Lifestyle.

According to data provided to TechCrunch by, the Heliophilia-developed app never made it to the Top 200 Overall Charts in the U.S. prior to this week's progress.

Due to the app's standing as a newcomer, third-party app analytics firms do not have specific data on how many installs have changed the affected App Store ranks. On the other hand, Google's Play Store states that the app has been downloaded five million times so far.

Lemon8 describes itself as a content-sharing platform "with a youthful community" on Play Store. "Here is where you can discover beautiful, authentic, and diverse content. It is THE destination for sharing and exploring."

While Heliophilia is listed as Lemon8's developer, numerous past reports about the app's development pointed at ByteDance as the parent company of the app, according to Gizmodo.

App intelligence provider Apptopia stated that Lemon8 debuted on iOS and Android back in March 2020, with Japan becoming its biggest market as the country accounted for 38% of the app's overall installs, as per TechCrunch. However, multiple reports noted that the launch was made stealthily due to the recent issues ByteDance has faced in relation to TikTok. Since 2020, Lemon8 has had 16 million global downloads and has an estimated active monthly user count of 4.25 million.

Apptopia warned that while it has not seen the app spending on paid search on the Apple and Google stores, Lemon8 may have paid install campaigns that have not yet appeared in its system so far.

Meanwhile, some influencers have called Lemon8 "Instagram meets Pinterest," as the app has an Instagram-like feed while offering various topics of interest such as food and fashion upon sign-in, as per Gizmodo.

Last month, it was revealed that ByteDance pays influencers to post their content on Lemon8, as reported by Insider. Creators were reportedly told to post up to seven vertical photos and a caption of up to 300 words.

Multiple outlets have also described Lemon8 as one that closely resembles the Chinese social e-commerce platform Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book). The Lemon8 feed also has some similarities to the TikTok feed, but the difference is that Lemon8 offers still images that look like influencer ads, according to a review by Vice's Motherboard.

Aside from basic photo sharing, the app also encourages users to share where they bought the items they post. Templates are available so users can tag products with a brand and a price. "Lemon8 is the shameless aggregation of the e-commerce aspects of our popular social media platforms," Motherboard said in its review.

Lemon8's journey to the top of the U.S. App Store comes as another app owned by ByteDance, the popular short video-sharing app TikTok, faces a potential ban in the U.S.

Last week, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was grilled by lawmakers over questions related to the app's possible ties with the Chinese government and its safety protocols set forth for younger users.

Bringing both Republicans and Democrats together to express their thoughts about TikTok being a threat to U.S. national security, Chew's appearance at Congress raised further concerns that the popular app may be banned once the RESTRICT Act is passed.

"The RESTRICT Act comprehensively addresses the ongoing threat posed by technology from foreign adversaries by better empowering the Department of Commerce to review, prevent, and mitigate ICT transactions that pose undue risk, protecting the US supply chain now and into the future," according to a Senate release on the proposed legislation.

Chew told lawmakers that "ByteDance is not owned or controlled by the Chinese government."

Lawmakers want TikTok to either be sold or banned in the country. Negotiations started more than two years ago when TikTok first sought to keep the app available for American users while ensuring that national concerns were addressed.

Tik Tok logos are seen on smartphones in front of displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration
Another app by ByteDance is starting to grab attention in the U.S. App Store. Reuters