BEST OF 2017
Trends of the year
Welcome to the App Store Best of 2017, our editors' celebration of the most interesting and important apps, games and trends in app culture – and of the developers behind them.
This year, we identified four breakout trends that we're excited to share with you.
1. Finding a new reality
This year, millions of iPhone and iPad users around the world got access to the groundbreaking technology known as AR (augmented reality).
AR has the potential to fundamentally change how we interact with the world around us by blending digitally rendered objects with our environment. The screen of your iOS device becomes a window into the AR world, where you interact with virtual objects in ways never before possible. Best of all, the tech doesn’t require special glasses or accessories.
Developers have already created hundreds of apps and games, ranging from the practical to the fantastic.
On the more functional side, there’s IKEA Place, which lets you see how the company’s furniture will look and fit in your home before you buy. The measuring app Magicplan with its AR technology allows you create your floor plan within minutes.
And with the introduction of AR, learning through gaming will never be the same. FishingGO turns your favourite place into an impressive sea aquarium populated by more than 200 cards of real species, meaning you can learn interesting things about marine life as well as have fun.
2. Competitive gaming
No matter how satisfying it is to beat a computer opponent in a game, it will never be quite the same as besting another human being. Sure, you might have outsmarted a competitor capable of an inhuman amount of calculations per second, but that cold, lifeless machine won't ever say “uncle.”
Which is why the explosion in real-time competitive gaming on iOS has us so excited. Titles like Star Wars: Force Arena continue to thrive with constant updates and an enormous player base (meaning you'll always have someone to battle against). Or look at Battle Bay, an intense action battler where you compete with players from around the world in real-time spectacular naval warfare.
It’s the newcomers that steal the show this year, though: Battle Bay and its epic warfare, of course, but let’s not forget about Titanfall: Assault revolutionary strategic action, made all the more intense because the opposing robots are controlled by real people.
Mental health has been particularly front of mind for all of us this year. Several apps leveraged the latest research on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help address larger clinical issues. Although the apps are not a substitute for professional treatment, they do put a host of tools at your fingertips.
Never before have we seen such a surge in apps focused specifically on mental health, mindfulness, and stress reduction. The popular meditation app Headspace introduced major updates this year that expanded their breadth considerably, taking on topics such as mindfulness for children and better sleep.
And Pause uses the ancient principles of Tai Chi to help you regain focus and release stress within minutes. You can easily start the journey to relaxation anywhere and anytime with it, while Aura provides short and sweet, science-backed, and personalized mindfulness meditation exercises every day to make you happier. It's a good way to start the day with positive energy.
4. Making art for all
Have you ever looked at a piece of modern art and said, “I could have made that”? Well, it’s time to prove it, because there are now plenty of tools that allow you to create your own masterpieces and this year they have become more popular than ever.
Tayasui Sketches realistically simulates the experience of using a paintbrush – sensitive to the pressure and angle of your movements. Just choose your preferred medium, from a virtual oil paint to a convincing watercolour.
With colouring-in app, Bloom, you can accurately mimic real-world colours in your artwork, by taking a photo of the hue you want in order to add it to your paint palette and with Lake you can find pictures by your favourite Instagram illustrators to colour-in.
If you want to try some illustration yourself then get PicsArt Colour Paint. Sketch from scratch or doodle over your photos. Or, if it's fashion design you fancy, check out Prêt-à-Template with its guiding line templates to help you get your body proportions right.
Even if your first few attempts aren't as impressive as you'd hoped, these apps will help you hone your skills.