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Apple has announced its editors’ picks of the best apps and games of the year across multiple platforms.
In a packed press release, Apple says it picked 15 apps and games that exemplify “high quality, creative design, usability, and innovative technology.” Some of the picks are a surprise to us, but it’s clear across the board that the pandemic has colored many of these choices. Apps that encourage or support home usage rose to the fore this year as the world struggled to cope with quarantines and travel restrictions.
There are some really interesting choices here, and plenty you’ll want to check out if you haven’t already. Read on for our thoughts on the main picks (best app/game for iPhone/iPad) and a brief rundown of the full list, including special mentions and apps for other platforms.
iPhone App of the Year
WakeOut offers fun, bite-sized exercises you can do from home with no equipment. Its light-hearted tone and simple video explainers mean there’s no excuse to cram some activity into those spare moments of the day. No wonder it’s been so popular in a year where people stopped going to the gym. Read our review.
iPad App of the Year
Despite some security worries at the start of the year, the video calling app kept us feeling together this year when we couldn’t be together in person. It also allowed countless people to virtually attend meetings from home – yay. Read our guide to Zoom’s virtual backgrounds.
iPhone Game of the Year
This one nearly flew under our radar, and though it might be too involved for non-gamers there’s no doubting its quality. This is a gorgeous open-world exploration game with a fantastical story to boot – not too far from a full Zelda title – and it’s frankly mind-boggling that this kind of scope is possible on a smartphone.
iPad Games of the Year
Legends of Runeterra
This epic strategy card game takes on the behemoth of Hearthstone and largely impresses. Unlike its rivals, there are no randomized card packs in sight (a practice tantamount to gambling) and the game promises that player skill is the most important factor, not randomness.
Besides the main four picks, Apple also highlighted its App Store favorites for other platforms. Our favorite calendar app Fantastical and detective roleplaying game Disco Elysium for the Mac; popular streaming service Disney+ and 2D adventure platformer Dandara Trials of Fear for Apple TV; and bespoke soundscape creator Endel for Apple Watch.
There was also a special mention for the charming stealth-em-up Sneaky Sasquatch as Apple Arcade game of the year.
Trends of 2020
Apple also highlighted the best apps of the year that reflected the trends and culture of the world. To that end, it picked out Shine, Explain Everything Whiteboard, Caribu, Pokémon GO, and ShareTheMeal. You can read more about Apple’s thoughts on those titles via its press release.