Apple reveals apps and games of the year, highlighting tools that allowed people to get through 2020

Apple has revealed its apps and games of the year, highlighting the most popular and best software available on its platforms.

It said that the choices this year had been dominated by the theme of “helpfulness”, and that many of the apps chosen had allowed their users to get through the difficulties of 2020.

They included more obvious choices such as Zoom, which Apple noted had gone from being a somewhat niche business app to the way that families and friends came together. But it also highlighted less well-known apps, such as mindfulness platform Shine, that addressed the difficulties of the year more directly.

Other apps selected as part of the annual awards had to make substantial changes to work anything like normal in 2020. They included Pokémon GO – chosen as one of the app trends of the year – which had to alter its model away from real-life meetups to a more virtual and socially-distanced focus.

Apple gives awards to its best and most popular apps each year, usually picking a theme that unites those it feels have offered most value on its App Store. It said that it recognised that 2020’s list was different for a variety of reasons, and developers will for the first time receive a physical awards made out of the same kind of aluminium used in the company’s devices.

“This year, more than ever before, some of our most creative and connected moments happened in apps. This was thanks to the amazing work of developers who introduced fresh, helpful app experiences throughout the year,” said Phil Schiller, who used to run the company’s marketing and is now an Apple Fellow.

“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.”

Not all of the apps chosen by Apple necessarily embodied the kinds of struggles that 2020 has brought. Its Apple TV app of the year was Disney+ for instance.

But many of the winners had reacted to the pandemic, political struggle and increased awareness of racial injustice in their own ways. Some of them – such as Mac app winner Fantastical – did so in smaller ways, such as making it easier for people to follow virtual meetings, while others took on the challenges of the year more directly.

Each of the winners of the trend awards did so in different ways.

They included the UN’s World Food Programme app, ShareTheMeal, which said that it had seen a vast increase in the number of people donating through its app through lockdown. Meditation and wellness app Shine launched a section specifically aimed at addressing the wellbeing and mental health of black people amid the protests over racial injustice.

Many of the apps chosen this year have been around for some time, but found their purpose significantly changed through the pandemic. Education app Explain Everything became vastly more popular as teachers used its whiteboard features from home, for instance, and Pokémon GO made its physical events virtual and added new ways for people to interact with its location-based games in ways that were consistent with social distancing guidelines.

The winners and full list of the most popular apps is below:

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.

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.

Shine, for helping users practice self care.

Caribu, for connecting families to loved ones.

“Pokémon GO,” for reinventing the way we play, from Niantic.

ShareTheMeal, for helping users make a difference.

8. YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream

13. Spotify: Music and podcasts

17. Google Maps – Transit & Food

18. Uber Eats: Food Delivery

19. Gmail – Email by Google

1. Driving Theory Test 4 in 1 Kit

2. Official DVSA Theory Test Kit

8. CITB Op/Spec HS&E test 2019

10. AutoSleep Track Sleep on Watch

11. Squeezy NHS Pelvic Floor App

12. Freya • Surge Timer

13. Teach Your Monster to Read

14. Mirror for Samsung TV

16. WatchChat 2: for WhatsApp

2. Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles

6. Call of Duty®: Mobile

7. Ink Inc. – Tattoo Drawing

8. Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game

1. Football Manager 2020 Mobile

5. Heads Up! – Trivia on the go

7. The Chase: Ultimate Edition

11. Cluedo: The Official Edition

14. Countdown – The Official TV Show App

15. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

20. RFS – Real Flight Simulator

6. YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream

7. Messaging for WhatsApp on iPad

18. Spotify: Music and podcasts

20. ITV Hub: TV Player & Catchup

4. Teach Your Monster to Read

7. Driving Theory Test 4 in 1 Kit

11. Numberblocks: Card Fun!

13. Alphablocks: Letter Fun

15. Numberblocks: Hide and Seek

17. Official DVSA Theory Test Kit

18. Toca Life: Neighborhood

19. Mirror for Samsung TV

3. Ink Inc. – Tattoo Drawing

4. Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game

5. Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles

10. Dancing Road: Color Ball Run!

12. Word Collect: Word Games

13. Call of Duty®: Mobile

3. Football Manager 2020 Touch

4. Football Manager 2020 Mobile

7. The House of Da Vinci 2

8. The Chase: Ultimate Edition

11. RFS – Real Flight Simulator

12. Cluedo: The Official Edition

14. Teeny Titans: Collect & Battle

17. LEGO® Jurassic World™

18. Five Nights at Freddy’s

7. SpongeBob: Patty Pursuit

16. LEGO® Builder’s Journey

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