Apple revealed its dozen best apps of the year in its Apple Design Awards at the WWDC, where compatibility with the Apple Watch played a prominent role.
Apps as diverse as Shadowmatic (a cool-looking puzzle game) and Metamorphabet (an animated alphabet) highlighted the very high standard of iOS design, while Robinhood (a stock trading app), Fantastical 2 (a calendar service) and Pacemaker (music mixing) showcased early adopters of the Apple Watch.
Among the dozen winners were two student awards. First was Clemens Strasser’s Elementary Minute, which is a quiz game designed for the iPhone and Watch. Second up was the incredibly minimalist jump-O, a hand-drawn puzzle game.
The full list of winners, with a brief description provided by Apple – and edited for brevity – were:
Selected as an Apple Design Award winner for its attention to detail, high-fidelity rendering, excellent execution, and perfect representation of multi-touch gameplay, Shadowmatic challenges your spatial thinking with more than 80 puzzles in gorgeous atmospheric environments rendered with highly-realistic textures and shadows.
Metamorphabet is an animated alphabet for all ages that brings letters alive with an incredibly playful and interactive learning experience designed for touch. Metamorphabet won an Apple Design Award for its outstanding creativity, convincing physics, smooth animations, and exploratory design that will have students coming back again and again.
Robinhood cleverly uses geolocation to pinpoint your location and share relevant stocks nearby, keeps you up to date with thoughtful notifications and a notification centre widget, and ensures a secure experience by using Touch ID for authentication and fully encrypting data with SSL. The Apple Watch app is extremely well designed and visually consistent with its peers on iPhone and iPad.
Affinity Designer is a smooth, precise, high-performance graphics design app for creative professionals that’s available on the Mac. Although primarily a vector design app, Affinity Designer also has the ability to edit pixel-based images. This is an excellent example of what a state-of-the-art Mac app should be.
Crossy Road is an incredibly addictive, endless arcade hopper with countless surprises. Full of whimsy and fun lo-fi artwork, Crossy Road fuses art, commerce, design, and marketing into a game with heart and personality that’s deserving of an Apple Design Award.
Fantastical 2 is a meticulously designed, full-featured calendaring app designed exclusively for OS X Yosemite. It won an Apple Design Award for its clean design, rich functionality, speed, responsiveness, support for popular localisations, and deep integration with OS X.
Selected as an Apple Design Award winner for its outstanding use of iOS accessibility features, Workflow delivers an excellent implementation for VoiceOver with clearly labeled items, thoughtful hints, and drag/drop announcements, all of which makes the app usable and quickly accessible to those who are blind or low-vision.
Does Not Commute is an addictive, strategic driving game for iOS with surprising depth, and great balance of story, characters, and action. Does Not Commute won an Apple Design Award for its highly stylised and beautiful late 1960s aesthetic, which is carried throughout every detail of the game. Each driver has a unique character, back story, and motivation.
Vainglory is a state-of-the-art game that sets a new standard for performance by utilising Metal and the A8 chip to enable 60 frame per second rendering, sub 30ms control response, and 1.3 million polygon drawing capacity. It offers an incredibly rich environment and lighting effects, and more than 100 fully animated characters.
Pacemaker is a well-executed personal music mixing app that has a creative, minimalist visual design style optimised for each device type, compelling colour scheme, and realistic, charming animations that are evocative of the selected mix effect. Pacemaker has novel interactions for adjusting tempo, volume, and effects like reverb, echo, hi-pass / lo-pass, as well as autopilot mode for error-free mixes.
Elementary Minute is a simple, fast-paced quiz game. Elementary Minute has a clean, legible and consistent design with a very simple gameplay in which swiping up or down indicates if an answer is correct or incorrect.
jump-O is a fun, hand-drawn, minimalist puzzle game. Jump-O supports Game Center and puts circle players into a square world in which they must struggle to survive by jumping and moving to avoid spikes and bullets.