Apple Design Awards celebrate the year’s most beautiful, innovative iOS apps

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Apple Design Awards 2020: These are the eight apps Apple thinks you should check out.
These are the eight apps Apple thinks you should check out.
Photo: Apple

The eight winners of this year’s Apple Design Awards showcase “outstanding app design, innovation, ingenuity, and technical achievement,” the company said Monday.

Ron Okamoto, Apple’s vice president of worldwide developer relations, said the four apps and four games honored “inspire not only their peers in the Apple developer community, but all of us at Apple, too.”

Apple Design Awards 2020

Each year, the Apple Design Awards salute apps and games that illustrate the capabilities of technologies like Apple Pencil. Check out Apple’s picks (and get some ideas for apps to download) below.

The productivity apps

Darkroom

One winner is photo- and video-editing app Darkroom, which Apple praises for its great performance and ease of use, combined with a layout that can be used by both pros and casual users alike.

Looom

Another winning app is animation creation tool Looom. Apple applauds the app’s “deep functionality,” along with its intuitive design and control system, and the way that it uses Apple Pencil and the iOS Dark Mode feature.

Shapr3D

Apple singles out iPad CAD app Shapr3D for its use of ARKit and drag-and-drop functionality to create designs “using only an iPad and Apple Pencil.” Apple notes that the developers plan to add a new feature later this year that uses the iPad Pro’s LiDAR Scanner to automatically generate 3D models of rooms or 2D floor plans.

StaffPad

Sheet music app StaffPad turns handwritten musical notations into digital sheet music using Apple Pencil.

…and the games

Perhaps not surprisingly, half of the games that received an Apple Design Award can be found in Apple Arcade, the company’s subscription gaming service.

Sayonara Wild Hearts

Apple Arcade’s stunning Sayonara Wild Hearts rightly gets an award for its trippy game mechanics, which look unlike just about anything else you’ll see. “The game delivers vibrant and surreal landscapes, mesmerizing visuals and motion, and thrilling and kinetic” gameplay,” Apple says. The company also praises its use of Apple technology, such as spatial audio and Metal.

Sky: Children of the Light

An equally unusual game is the brilliant Sky: Children of the Light. In this trippily beautiful game, players don a magical cape that allows them to fly across seven different realms, exploring each in turn.

Song of Bloom

Another prize-winning title is Song of Bloom from indie developer Philipp Stollenmayer, whose work Cult of Mac has covered before. Song of Bloom is part weird fractured narrative, part puzzle game and part art project. It’s a stunning game, and it’s great to see Apple recognize it in this way.

Where Cards Fall

The last game, Where Cards Fall, is an adventure game in which “players build houses of cards to bring formative memories to life.”

Apple Design Awards: Picking out the highlights in the App Store

The Apple Design Awards shine a light on independent developers creating some truly innovative apps within the App Store. This year, the awards come as the App Store business model faces antitrust scrutiny in the United States and the Europe. The awesome apps showcased this year serve as a great reminder of how — whatever problems the App Store may have — Apple’s curated approach makes it possible for some really original pieces of software to get the distribution they deserve.

Hopefully, the creators of each app get a nice boost in their downloads. And maybe the Apple Design Awards will inspire next year’s award-winning devs.