Every year at WWDC, Apple hands out Design Awards to its favorite apps of the year. It tends to favor apps that make good use of iOS technology, or that do something new or interesting. One thing all of this years winners have in common is that they’re extremely well polished.
Here at TapSmart we’ve toyed with all 12 of the winners over the past year, and though our choices may have differed slightly we can’t argue with most of these. For more details on why Apple picked each one, and to see some behind-the-scenes shots of the developers at work, we recommend reading Apple’s long post about the winners.
If you’re short of time, or just curious to check out the apps that won this year, we’ve compiled the lot for you along with links to reviews for the ones we’ve looked at in detail. Quite a few of them are free! Without further ado, here are seven apps and five games that are most definitely worth your time.
Apple’s favorite apps
Lake – Free
Color yourself happy! De-stress with a vibrant collection of coloring books from Instagram artists, offered exclusively on Lake. There is plenty of FREE content to start with: daily drawings plus a free illustration with every coloring book. Coloring books come with 12 beautiful drawings that you can color over and over, plus a custom color palette. Lake is designed for adults, but is also a lot of fun for kids!
Download Lake from the App Store
Bear – Free
Bear is a beautiful, flexible writing app for crafting notes, prose, code and now sketches! Bear is perfect for everything from quick notes, to code snippets, to in-depth essays. A focus mode helps you concentrate, and advanced Markdown and other markup options are an online writer’s best friend. Full in-line image support brings your writing to life, and keep yourself on task by adding todos to individual notes.
Download Bear from the App Store
Kitchen Stories – Free
Loved by millions of users, Kitchen Stories adds the whole world of cooking to your pocket. Find delicious recipes with beautiful pictures, easy to follow step-by-step photo instructions, recipe videos, and clever how-to videos – completely FREE of charge! Learn how to cook with executive chefs and expand your cooking wisdom by trying out new, mouth-watering dishes every week.
Download Kitchen Stories from the App Store
Things 3 – $9.99/£9.99
Meet the all-new Things! A complete rethinking of the original, award-winning task manager – with a perfect balance between simplicity and power, incredible new features, delightful interactions, and a timeless new design.
Note: if you’re not sure about shelling out the big bucks for the app, hold tight – we have a full review coming soon to see if it’s worth the money.
Download Things 3 for iPhone from the App Store
Download Things 3 for iPad from the App Store ($19.99/£19.99)
Elk – Free
Elk is the fastest way to convert currencies on your trips. It knows where you are, and automatically picks the right currency for you. It does away with cumbersome keypad entry, and makes converting currencies fast and fun. On the iPhone, Elk is a handy and interactive rates table. It picks a suitable starting value, and converts the next ten values to your home currency.
Download Elk from the App Store
Enlight 3 – $3.99/£3.99
Wish you didn’t have to use so many apps to edit a single photo? You don’t. Download Enlight – it’s every photo app you’ve ever needed, wanted, or dreamed of – combined into one powerful, beautifully designed photo editor. Enlight is the superior way to create stunning images on iPhone. The most comprehensive, highest quality photo editing app so powerful and user-friendly it’ll be the last photo app you ever download.
Download Enlight from the App Store
Read our review of Enlight 1.0 from 2015
Airmail 3 – $4.99/£4.99
Airmail is a powerful mail client for Mac, now available for iPhone and iPad. Designed for the latest generation iOS, it supports 3D Touch, fast document previewing, high quality PDF creation, and native integration with other apps and services for a frictionless workflow. Workflow customization is at the core, with a rich feature set like snooze, interactive push notifications, and full inbox sync. iCloud sync provides a fully ubiquitous experience so that all your accounts and app preferences are synced.
Download Airmail 3 from the App Store
Read our full review of Airmail
Apple’s favorite games
Blackbox – Free
Blackbox is one of iOS’s #1 puzzle games. Explore 71 unique puzzles (MORE COMING) without touch… Tilt, shout, click, snap, wait, reflect, and hike your way to success; expand your creative thinking; ponder colorful visual clues; discover secrets along the way…
Download Blackbox from the App Store
Splitter Critters – $2.99/£2.99
Split the world with a swipe of your finger and then rearrange it to guide critters back to their spaceship. Explore colorful planets full of danger, challenging puzzles, and innovative mechanics that will make you think in new ways. The immersive soundscapes of each world, best experienced with headphones, set the tone for your journey.
Download Splitter Critters from the App Store
Read our full review of Splitter Critters
Mushroom 11 – $4.99/£4.99
As life struggles to gain a foothold in a devastated world, a new lifeform emerges from the rubble. Mold yourself into any shape as you explore this strange, challenging landscape. The eerily beautiful visuals are complemented by the ethereal music of electronica legend The Future Sound of London.
Download Mushroom 11 from the App Store
Old Man’s Journey – $4.99/£4.99
Immerse yourself in a visual narrative as you uncover stories of the old man’s life told through beautiful vignettes of his memories. Interact with the serene, whimsical environment as you solve playful puzzles and shape the landscape around you, growing the hills to create the old man’s path forward. Explore life’s complexities through the old man’s eyes as you experience his heartache, regret, and hope.
Download Old Man’s Journey from the App Store
Severed – $2.99/£2.99
Take control of a one-armed warrior named Sasha, wielding a living sword on her journey through a nightmare world in search of her family. Master offensive and defensive touch combat techniques to survive intense battles against a menagerie of enemies. Follow branching routes through the unknown, using your wits to avoid hazards and solve puzzles.