Every WWDC, Apple hands out Design Awards to its favorite apps and games of the past year, and this year is no different. Eight developers made the history books this week for their exemplary work.
Apple tends to favor well-polished unique apps that demonstrate “deep mastery” of its technologies. The winners are from all over the world and showcase a diverse range of capabilities and styles – these awards are all about showing off what iOS is capable of.
“Every year, app and game developers demonstrate exceptional craftsmanship and we’re honoring the best of the best,” says Apple. “Through their vision, determination, and exacting standards, the winning developers inspire not only their peers in the Apple developer community, but all of us at Apple, too.”
Below, we’ve included links to all eight winning apps and games, alongside Apple’s reasoning for each choice.
Apple’s favorite apps
Darkroom, from Bergen Co., is a powerful photo and video editor whose interface is as beautiful as it is easy to use. It delivers great performance with super-intuitive controls and a layout that both casual and pro photographers can truly appreciate. With Apple technologies including photo and camera APIs, Home Screen quick actions, contextual menus, and haptics, Darkroom is a shining example of a high-end mobile editing tool.
Looom, developed by iorama.studio, is an animation playground that takes inspiration from music creation tools. Looping hand-drawn stop-motion animation in this playfully creative interface is designed for pros and consumers alike. The app’s deep functionality and intuitive interface are complemented by novel custom controls. Made for iPadOS, Looom uses Apple technologies including Apple Pencil and Dark Mode to their fullest.
Shapr 3D, from Shapr 3D ZRT, is a powerful CAD app for iPad that has the potential to drastically transform the architectural and technical drawing workflow. There’s no need for a desk, so inspiration can hit anytime, anywhere. Using only an iPad and Apple Pencil, technical designers have access to a robust modeling toolset to easily create complex 3D models. Designed exclusively for iPad, Shapr 3D takes advantage of ARKit and drag and drop. Later this year, the app will use the LiDAR Scanner to automatically generate an accurate 2D floor plan and 3D model of a room, which can be used as the basis to design remodels or room additions. The new design can then be previewed in real-world scale using AR right in the room scanned.
StaffPad, from StaffPad Ltd., brilliantly converts handwritten musical notations into digital sheet music. Designed for composers who want an easy solution for writing and composing music digitally, the app uses Apple technologies such as Apple Pencil, drag and drop, and Core ML to transform each bar into beautifully typeset music notation that can be edited using intuitive touch or Apple Pencil tools.
Apple’s favorite games
Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayonara Wild Hearts, from developer Simogo and publisher Annapurna Interactive, has been lauded for outstanding design since its launch. A pop album video game that is hopeful, gorgeous, and unique, “Sayonara Wild Hearts” gets players’ adrenaline pumping and makes their spirit soar. The game delivers vibrant and surreal landscapes, mesmerizing visuals and motion, and thrilling and kinetic gameplay. It makes extensive use of Apple technologies including Metal, Game Center, spatial audio, and game controllers.
Sky: Children of the Light
Sky: Children of the Light, from thatgamecompany, has players flying across sweeping landscapes in a magical kingdom to help celestial beings find their way back to the heavens. With its clever multiplayer integration and adventurous graphical showcase, “Sky: Children of the Light” is a groundbreaking social quest. The team used Apple technologies including a custom Metal engine, haptics, Game Center, and spatial audio.
Song of Bloom
Song of Bloom, from indie developer Philipp Stollenmayer, is a unique game with a nonlinear tale packed with clever puzzles. Players explore a story told in rapidly changing art styles as they progress though the game. “Song of Bloom” delivers an innovative, handcrafted gameplay experience with great design.
Where Cards Fall
Where Cards Fall, from developer The Game Band and publisher Snowman, is a slice-of-life adventure game in which players build houses of cards to bring formative memories to life. The game takes advantage of Apple technologies, including Metal, haptics, Game Center, and iCloud, to bring to life its dreamlike spatial puzzles, immersive audio, and unique miniature-art style.