The best of the best
At every WWDC, Apple takes some time to recognize the best that the App Store and Mac App Store have to offer—apps and developers that go above and beyond, and serve as examples of what Apple’s platforms are capable of. Let’s meet this year’s cream of the crop: Here are the 2015 Apple Design Award winners.
Student Winner: Elementary Minute (iOS, Apple Watch)
Elementary Minute ($1, iTunes Store link) is a simple app that lets you quickly quiz yourself on a variety of topics, with topics ranging from math to geography. If you have an Apple Watch, you can even quiz yourself from your wrist. Apple’s judges liked the app’s design and praised it for its simplicity.
Student Winner: Jump-O (iOS)
Jump-O (free, iTunes Store link) is a game that asks you to guide a circle through each level and collect stars, all while maneuvering around spikes and bullets that could have you cursing at your phone. It’s a deceptively simple game, but the judges fell in love with its minimalist, monochromatic graphics that evoke an earlier age of computing.
In Shadowmatic ($3, iTunes Store link), you rotate objects floating in midair so that the shadows they project on a wall resemble a familiar object. Its imaginative gameplay, beautifully rendered scenes, and ambient soundtrack impressed judges, winning it an Apple Design Award.
Metamorphabet ($4, iTunes Store link) is a new take on teaching kids the alphabet. Unlike a static book that’ll tell you that C is for cat, Metamorphabet lets you learn by tapping, swiping, and otherwise manipulating letters. As you play with the alphabet, the letters transform into different shapes: The letter G will transform into a guitar that you can actually strum, for example, then morph into a garden.
Robinhood (iOS, Apple Watch)
If you want to get into stock trading, Robinhood (free, iTunes Store link) might be the app for you. This app lets you get stock quotes for free, but if you sign up for a Robinhood account (also free), you can buy and sell stocks from your phone. If you have an Apple Watch, you can even execute trades from your wrist. Judges gave the app high marks for its clean design and attractive typography.
Affinity Designer (OS X)
Serif Labs’ Affinity Designer ($50, Mac App Store link) aims to be your one-stop vector graphics shop. It comes feature-packed and takes advantage of a host of OS X technologies like Core Graphics and Grand Central Dispatch, which earned it praise from judges. The judges also liked its speed and precision.
Crossy Road (iOS)
Your goal in Crossy Road (free, iTunes Store link) is to get the chicken across as many roads, rivers, and rail lines as you can without drowning or getting squished. It’s Frogger for the iOS age, and judges couldn’t get enough of its sound effects and retro-themed graphics.
Fantastical 2 (OS X)
Critics raved about Fantastical 2 for OS X ($40, Mac App Store link), so it isn’t too hard to see why judges honored it with an Apple Design Award. Flexibits’ calendaring app makes good use of OS X Yosemite features like Notification Center’s Today view, and includes unique organizational features like calendar sets, which let you hide or show certain calendars based on your location—useful for keeping home and work calendars separate.
If you like Automator on the Mac, you’ll love Workflow for iOS ($3, iTunes Store link). Its drag-and-drop interface lets you quickly string together actions and create workflows to automate a wide array of mundane or tedious tasks. That’s great, but its thorough support for iOS’s accessibility features made the app shine in the eyes of the judges.
Does Not Commute (iOS)
Does Not Commute (free, iTunes Store link) takes the frustration of having to hurry to your destination, and turns it into a game with a twist. You must navigate to your destination within 60 seconds while contending with other vehicles on the road. The twist? The other drivers on the road are past instances of you, so how well you perform on earlier levels dictates to some degree how well you do later on.
Vainglory (free, iTunes Store link) is a multiplayer online battle arena game that, in Apple’s estimation, stands out from the rest: The judges commended the app’s use of iOS technologies like Metal, and praised its impressive graphics and visual effects.
Pacemaker (iOS, Apple Watch)
Pacemaker (free, iTunes Store link) gives aspiring DJs at chance to mix tracks using an iPhone or iPad. It can pull in music from both iTunes and Spotify, and lets you apply all sorts of effects to your music. As an added bonus, Pacemaker even lets you mix songs from your Apple Watch.
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