Apple’s iOS App Store is frequently criticized as having mediocre discovery capabilities—people searching the store often only see the ‘top’ lists, which tend to favor apps that are already popular, regardless of their quality. So it’s helpful when Apple takes a critical approach, such as its annual list of the best apps, released today (iTunes link).
The best 2 iPhone apps of the year:
- Elevate, a brain-training app that uses games to help with focus and memory.
- Hyperlapse by Instagram, an app to create time-lapse videos—similar to Apple’s new built-in time-lapse feature, introduced in iOS 8.
The best 2 iPhone games of the year:
- Threes, a sharply-designed number puzzle game, a popular sighting on public transit.
- Leo’s Fortune, a visually stunning platform game starring a Koosh ball with a mustache.
Apple also announced top iPad apps, which tend to be more elaborate than the simple iPhone apps.
The best 2 iPad apps of the year:
- Pixelmator, the impressive photo-editing app featured in the iPad Air 2 launch demo.
- Storehouse, a “visual storytelling” app for iPad. (See these great old Steve Jobs photos.)
The best 2 iPad games of the year:
- Monument Valley, a puzzle platform game that would M.C. Escher proud.
- Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, a digital collectible card game from the makers of World of Warcraft.
Apple also included long lists of runners-up. Puzzle games were big winners on the iPhone, including titles such as Elevate and Ruzzle Adventure. It also featured several news and content apps, includingYahoo News Digest, the well-liked NYT Now app, BuzzFeed, and Facebook’s critically acclaimed but mostly forgotten Paper app.
Many of these apps are also available for Google’s Android platform. And a few apps appeared on both Apple’s top charts and Google’s, which was announced last week. These include BuzzFeed, Yahoo News Digest, SwiftKey Keyboard, a keyboard that’s supposed to help you type faster and more accurately, and Uber, the ride-hailing app.