Last night Apple announced the 2013 winners of its annual design awards: the best apps of the year. Ten out of 11 were mobile apps, with one desktop-only.
The winners, as you would expect, featured gorgeous design, innovative uses of Apple technologies, and some of the best-imagined apps on the app store. There are also two student-built apps that are simply amazing examples of the creativity of young developers.
Here are the winners:
Created by the World Wildlife Fund, WWF Together is a window into the lives of the world’s most interesting and beautiful endangered animals.
“With its outstanding attention to detail, beautiful aesthetic, wonderful sound design and music score, engaging writing, high resolution photography, rich typography, and inventive interactions, WWF Together sets the bar higher for iPad app design.”
Procreate, by Savage Interactive, is an art studio for your iPad.
“It’s packed with features that artists love — from true-to-life sets of pencils, inks, and brushes, to advanced layer compositing, to unique digital tools. Procreate is a powerhouse of iOS technologies like ARC, Grand Central Dispatch, and OpenGL ES which deliver state-of-the-art performance and responsiveness, 64-bit precision, and smooth 60 fps rendering of canvas sizes up to 4K x 4K.”
Badland is an action adventure side-scroller for iPad by Frogmind.
“Badland’s intuitive one-touch controls and immersive sound design complement the balanced, physics-based gameplay as players discover imaginative traps and overcome endless obstacles. In either single- or multi-player mode, the excellent production values and brilliant execution leverage OpenGL ES, Game Center, iCloud, and Retina display.”
Apparently it’s big in China, too — it’s one of the featured games on an entire pirated Chinese app store.
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
One of the apps on the original iPhone, Yahoo Weather, was beautifully re-imagined this past year with gorgeous imagery and simple, clear data presentation.
“Yahoo! Weather has great layout and typography, compelling animations, fast image processing, and clear iconography. This attention to detail means that in a saturated category, an app can rise above the crowd.”
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Letterpress is a word game by Atebits that, Apple says, is a perfect blend of fun and strategy.
“It illustrates masterful asynchronous gameplay using Game Center and stands out for its beautifully understated game interface, simple gestures, subtle animations, and restrained sound design.”
If you’ve never fished with chainsaws, toasters, and other weapons, you’ve never fished. Or, at least, never fished with Ridiculous Fishing, by Vlambeer.
“It delivers hours of unique entertainment in an expertly-crafted, lo-fi, retro video game style. With engaging physics-based gameplay mixed with humor, players follow the main character in his search for redemption.”
Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders
By Atypical Games, Sky Gamblers is an arcade-style WWII aerial combat game with non-arcade style verisimilitude and accuracy, including real historical locations.
“Amazing OpenGL based visuals and special effects including specular masks, bump mapping, atmospheric scattering, volumetric clouds, sun glare, day & night transitions, HDR rendering, radial blur, heat haze, refractive raindrops, and much more, with accurately recreated locations, realistic weather, and interactive cockpits.”
iPhone, iPad, Mac
You may not be as wowed by the design in this code editor, but apparently the Coda web development environment, by Panic, makes the task of web coding “enjoyable.”
Remember-everything app Evernote keeps getting better — and bigger.
“Evernote truly excels on OS X with a redesigned, Retina-optimized, modern, single-window UI, which also syncs notes between your Mac, iPhone, iPad, and web. Evernote 5 for Mac uses every relevant OS X technology, including iCloud, Notification Center, Reminders, QuickLook, Secure Keychain, Disk encryption, Core Location, Full-screen, Accessibility, and In App Purchase.”
iPhone, iPad, Mac
Finish (student winner)
Finish is a task manager that is designed to help you get ‘er dun … or Finish stuff.
“Inspired by procrastinating students during finals week, the pair developed Finish., a streamlined task manager which uses gestures to help people organize their to-do’s into short, mid, and long-term tasks quickly and easily.”
Students: Ryan Orbuch and Michael Hansen
Mosaic.io (student winner)
As the name suggests, Mosaic allows you to build a seamless panorama of images across multiple iOS devices, such as iPads and iPhones, allowing you to use your phones or iPads as one big screen.
“Self-taught iOS developers, the team created mosaic.io as a way to connect two or more iOS devices around a single image, and built the prototype in a weekend. mosaic.io supports Retina Display and magically creates a gorgeous photo mosaic across two or more iOS device screens with a simple swipe of a finger.”
Students: Ishaan Gulrajani, Alex List, and Zain Shah
Image credits: Apple