Ever since 1997, Apple has a tradition of picking the best designed apps on its platform every year. Calling it the Apple Design Awards, these awards are presented to the winning designers at the annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), although this year it was a more intimate affair with the developers meeting the top-level executives at Apple. The criteria is essentially the apps that best capture or represent the capabilities of a particular Apple device or the ones that were just too pretty to not win. These apps include the ones for the iPhones, iPads, Mac and the Apple Watch. Also Read - iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 heading to the stores soon, launch event still rumored on October 13
Apple’s list begins with BlackBox. It is a puzzle game that relies on just about everything an iPhone can do, while intentionally avoiding its most obvious feature — the touch. Blackbox offers puzzles that rely on minimalistic clues, deliberate movement, elegant animations, and visual cues to expand creative thinking and encourage players to solve puzzles by turning, shouting, clicking, snapping, and more. It uses haptics for sensory feedback to make puzzles more personal, nuanced, and tactile, and relies heavily on the iPhone’s camera, accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer to enable sensory inputs. Also Read - Apple Watch Series 3 users should wait before updating to watchOS 7; Here's why
“Exclusive to iPhone, and with more than 77,000 5-star ratings, Blackbox is a refreshingly stimulating, engrossing, and clever puzzle game that breaks through the “fourth wall” of iPhone to take you beyond the screen and make your world a part of each solution,” describes Apple.
BlackBox is also available on the Indian App Store, and is listed for free with in-app purchases.
With what can only be described as the most satisfying and stress-busting app, Lake is essentially an adult coloring book concept app. Though there are many other similar apps like Lake on the App Store, but what makes Lake stand apart is that it works with independent artists to build out its offerings, with new stuff added daily.
Lake is optimized for Apple Pencil and takes full advantage of powerful iOS and macOS technologies such as Dynamic Type, 3D Touch, Quick actions, On-Demand Resources, CloudKit Sync, Handoff, Haptic Feedback, QuickLook, and Spotlight search. Lake is not available on App Store India.
At first look, you may see the Things 3 app as just another to-do list app, but it’s one of the best around, and Apple agrees. Its design is super thoughtful, with a ton of little tricks for power users. This is the second ADA that this line of apps has won; Things 1 got an ADA back in 2009. Things 3 is available on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.
Developed by a team of 10 at Cultured Code, the totally redesigned Things 3 removes distractions and provides innovative interactions and gestures to simplify list editing, multi-selection, list reordering, to do list syncing across all devices, quick scheduling, date parsing, searching, reminders, and more. “Things 3 sets the standard for how apps should be designed and developed to be their best on every device,” says Apple.
Things 3 is available on the Indian App Store, and costs Rs 800.
Splitter Critters is a charming level-based arcade puzzle-game for iPhone and iPad with a mind-bending game mechanic that’s playable by all ages. Apple says that the app was selected for the awards for it’s touch-centric game play, absorbing sound design, and minimalistic paper-craft aesthetic. Splitter Critters uses a clever tearing effect and scene re-arrangement technique to help players solve puzzles in new ways.
Splitter Critters is available on the Indian App Store, and is priced at Rs 250.
Have you ever taken one of those gooey blue icepacks and mushed it around to watch the gel inside wiggle around? Mushroom 11 is sort of like that, turned into a puzzle game. The app has intriguing alien landscapes, rich hand-painted levels, and incredibly unique, tactile, and immersive gameplay on iPhone and iPad. Players move an ever-expanding life form through a surreal post-apocalyptic landscape by strategically molding, splitting, and reshaping it into any shape needed to explore the strange and challenging environment.
“Details matter in great games, and Mushroom 11 delivers by providing a clever helper that appears when needed, an original sound score, interesting posters to investigate, and a left-handed mode which mirrors the game and provides an optimal experience for everyone,” says Apple. Mushroom 11 is available on the India App Store, and is priced at Rs 400.
Old Man’s Journey
Old Man’s Journey is another puzzle adventure that made it to the Apple Design Award list this year. The app is a little profound in nature and is all about life, loss, and hope. The Old Man’s Journey uses a clever landscape-shifting game mechanic to solve puzzles and reveal an emotional narrative told entirely through imagery and sound.
“We picked this game as an Apple Design Award winner because of its immersive and meaningful game play, beautiful, hand-drawn art style, and whimsical, exceptionally crafted landscapes,” Apple wrote.
Old Man’s Journey is available on the India App Store as well, and costs Rs 400.
Then there is Severed, which I think Apple has a little things for, because it won the Apple Design Award in 2016 as well. Severed is a narrative-driven adventure game in which you play a one-armed warrior named Sasha in search of her family. It is a challenging touch and swipe-based adventure with deep, detailed, and psychedelic gameplay.
“We were impressed by Severed’s sword-swinging mechanic that’s both intuitive and effective, the thoughtful approach taken for touchscreen-only controls, and the Metal optimizations used to create its high fidelity graphics and effects, and as well as its support for Game Center Achievements, ReplayKit to record video and audio, 3D Touch to Peek & Pop in-game maps, and iCloud for syncing game play between devices,” Apple says.
Priced at Rs 250, Severed is available on App Store India for purchase.
Exclusive to iPhone, iPad, and Mac, Bear is an elegant and flexible writing tool for crafting notes and prose. Available in 11 languages and packed with beautiful themes, extensive typography customization tools, and powerful capabilities, Bear is flexible and capable enough to handle a mix of short notes, articles, essays, long blog posts, code snippets, and more.
Bear is available for free on App Store India.
Need a quick recipe? The Kitchen Stories app would have most of them, and in 12 languages, and it is available on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. The app is optimized for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. The Kitchen Stories app is available for free on App Store India.
Another app that made it to the list is an underrated productivity app, which helps you with currency conversion. Called Elk, the app is suited for Apple Watch and enables quickly converting between 150+ currencies worldwide. Clever use of one’s locale and current time zones enables Elk to quickly infer currencies to convert without the need to manually select anything.
The Elk app is not available in India App Store.
Exclusive to iPhone and iPad, Enlight is a photo-editing application with a collection of tools rivaling professional-grade desktop mainstays. The app allows users to create and edit Wide Color images with traditional 2D and novel 3D elements to simulate surface materials and lighting, while controlling everything in real-time.
“Enlight harnesses the full power of the CPU and GPU on iPhone for ultra-high performance and low latency on a wide variety of non-photorealistic rendering styles such pen sketch and oil-painting, or editing photos up to 50 megapixels in size.”
Unfortunately, the Enlight app is not available on App Store India.
And the final one is an email client app for iOS, macOS, and watchOS. Available in 32 languages, AirMail 3 is fully accessible and features Siri support, Haptic feedback, 3D Touch support, Rich Notifications, Today and To Do Widgets, fast document previewing, TouchBar support, watchOS 3 complications with full message previews, an iMessage app to access mail attachments, and CloudKit support that enables ubiquitous syncing of data across all devices.
While AirMail is available on App Store India, the AirMail 3 is not listed on the store.