As 2020 thankfully sputters to its conclusion, Apple has released its list of the year’s best 15 apps and games “notable for their positive cultural impact, helpfulness, and importance.”
The App Store Best of 2020 winners cover a multitude of areas — from the Zoom app that more or less defined the year of lockdown to streaming service Disney+ to a nifty sleep app.
“This year, more than ever before, some of our most creative and connected moments happened in apps,” said Phil Schiller, Apple Fellow. “This was thanks to the amazing work of developers who introduced fresh, helpful app experiences throughout the year. Around the world, we saw remarkable efforts from so many developers, and these Best of 2020 winners are 15 outstanding examples of that innovation. From helping us stay fit and mindful, to keeping our children’s education on track, to helping fight hunger, their impact was meaningful to so many of us.”
You can check out the App Store Best of 2020 list below:
Best Apps of 2020
iPhone App of the Year: Wakeout!, developed by Andres Canella.
iPad App of the Year: Zoom.
Mac App of the Year: Fantastical, developed by Flexibits.
Apple TV App of the Year: Disney+.
Apple Watch App of the Year: Endel sleep app.
Best Games of 2020
iPhone Game of the Year: Genshin Impact, from miHoYo.
iPad Game of the Year: Legends of Runeterra, from Riot Games.
Mac Game of the Year: Disco Elysium, from ZA/UM.
Apple TV Game of the Year: Dandara Trials of Fear, from Raw Fury.
Apple Arcade Game of the Year: Sneaky Sasquatch, from RAC7.
Other awards for apps worth highlighting
The company also singles out a number of other apps for an assortment of reasons it thinks is worth highlighting. It writes that:
“Apps are a reflection of culture, and in 2020, developers overwhelmingly led a trend towards helpfulness. To help users get the daily self-care they needed, and to emphasize Black well-being, Shine launched a section specifically dedicated to the intersectionality of mental health and Black lives.
For teachers and students needing to reinvent the classroom experience, Explain Everything Whiteboard offered a cloud-based collaboration tool so groups of students could continue to work on projects together, even remotely. For families seeking to connect with loved ones, Caribu added dozens of interactive games and more than a hundred books to its real-time video-calling platform. Pokémon GO reinvented their popular outdoor gameplay with at-home experiences.
The United Nations World Food Programme’s ShareTheMeal app made it easy for users to make a difference in the lives of others, with more than 87 million meals shared to date. Around the world, app developers channeled their creative energy into helping users stay healthy, educated, connected, and entertained.”
A challenging year
2020 has been an intriguing and, probably in retrospect will seem an important, year when it comes to Apple’s relationship with app developers. On paper, the App Store went from strength to strength. In a year in which many businesses ground to a halt, the App Store experienced a boom in popularity as more people than ever were stuck at home.
At the same time, Apple was challenged by developers complaining about its iron grip on the App Store. Epic Games was booted out of the App Store after giving iOS users a way to purchase in-app purchases elsewhere. This quickly blew up into a lawsuit. Meanwhile, ex-App Store review boss Phil Shoemaker told Congress that Apple creates “arbitrary” rules which it uses as a “weapon” against competitors. Another developer accused Apple of acting like “gangsters” in the way it conducts the App Store.
At the end of the year, Apple announced it was slashing developer fees, thereby winning some plaudits from devs who will financially benefit from the decision.
The App Store has been the focus of more interest this year than at any other time since its launch in 2008. Will the trend continue in 2021? We’ll have to wait and see.
One final, interesting note is that TikTok — despite being consistently the most popular and high-grossing app in the App Store — is nowhere to be seen on this list. That could be because Apple wants to highlight independent creators, but wouldn’t exactly explain the presence of Disney+ on the list of awards. Perhaps more likely is that it relates to the ongoing controversy surrounding TikTok in the United States. It’s hard to argue that, culturally, TikTok hasn’t just enjoyed its biggest year ever.
What’s your pick for the year’s best app? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.