Over the last five years, all major cloud platform providers have increased their serverless offerings. Many early adopters report significant benefits for serverless-based over traditional applications, and many companies are considering moving to serverless themselves. However, currently there exist only few, scattered, and sometimes even conflicting reports on when serverless applications are well suited and what the best practices for their implementation are. We address this problem in the present study about the state of serverless applications. We collect descriptions of 89 serverless applications from open-source projects, academic literature, industrial literature, and domain-specific feedback. We analyze 16 characteristics that describe why and when successful adopters are using serverless applications, and how they are building them. We further compare the results of our characterization study to 10 existing, mostly industrial, studies and datasets; this allows us to identify points of consensus across multiple studies, investigate points of disagreement, and overall confirm the validity of our results. The results of this study can help managers to decide if they should adopt serverless technology, engineers to learn about current practices of building serverless applications, and researchers and platform providers to better understand the current landscape of serverless applications.