BEST OF 2017

Trends of the Year

AR to mindfulness: The trends of 2017.

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. A less virtual 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.

Use the AR (augmented reality) feature in the IKEA Place app to see a rendering of the brand’s furniture in your space.

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 medical-education app Insight Heart provides doctors, students, and patients with an uncannily realistic model of the human heart.

The video-editing app Filmr plays a more whimsical role. Use it to insert animated dwarfs, unicorns, and aliens into the videos you’ve taken. My Very Hungry Caterpillar AR brings the classic children’s book character to life, right on your coffee table.

AR lets you view the dimension-bending puzzles of Euclidian Lands in the real world.

And with the introduction of AR, gaming will never be the same. Euclidean Lands has you solving puzzles by twisting and bending floating medieval worlds, while Zombie Gunship Revenant AR uses the technology to create a visceral, thermal-vision view from a helicopter cockpit as you fend off waves of zombies.

    Euclidean Lands

    Brain-twisting puzzles

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    Filmr - Video Editor & Filter

    Slow Motion and Transition

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    IKEA Place

    Augmented Reality Furnishing

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    INSIGHT HEART

    The human heart expedition

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    My Very Hungry Caterpillar AR

    Explore the world together

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    Zombie Gunship Revenant AR

    Augmented Reality Zombie War

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2. Competition in real time

Nothing beats the thrill of a head-to-head battle, and this year the App Store became home to some of the most-played multiplayer games in the world.

Standouts from previous years kept players coming back. Clash Royale mixes things up with a popular 2v2 team battle and events like Touchdown mode. With the Hearthstone’s Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, Blizzard continues to lead the pack of card-battle games everywhere.

Clash Royale defined real-time strategy on the App Store with its signature two-lane layout.

But the sheer number of new multiplayer experiences makes it our definitive 2017 trend. The Elder Scrolls: Legends presents a beautifully crafted ode to Bethesda’s age-old franchise. Wave-based battle game Red Tides and Star Wars: Force Arena bring a fresh take on the strategy genre, blending impressive visuals with quick-fix multiplayer bouts. For those looking for turn-based tactical gaming, Stormbound combines a unique minimalistic visual design with chesslike unit placements and strategies.

Stormbound blends strategy on the App Store with its signature two-lane layout.

Two games paved the way in the shooter genre. Guns of Boom mixes 3D Touch and ultrasimple controls to create an intuitive way to battle with friends, even adding an AR (augmented reality) mode to watch the action from any angle. Modern Combat Versus takes a more hardcore approach, blending console-quality visuals with class-based heroes for a more visceral experience.

    Clash Royale

    Epic Real-Time Card Battles!

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    Hearthstone

    Thrilling card combat

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    The Elder Scrolls: Legends CCG

    Online Strategy Card Duel Game

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    Stormbound

    Kingdom Wars

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    Gods of Boom

    Online PvP Action

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    Modern Combat Versus

    New Online Multiplayer FPS

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3. Mindful of mental health

Never before have we seen such a surge in apps focused specifically on mental health, mindfulness, and stress reduction.

The popular meditation app Headspace and our App of the Year, Calm, both received major updates this year that expanded their breadth considerably, taking on topics such as mindfulness for children and better sleep. The creators of the new app Lake: Artists’ Coloring Books tackle destressing a bit more actively. The app offers an ever-changing selection of drawings, created by burgeoning illustrators and artists, that you can color in—which is perhaps the most accessible meditation of all.

Even the menus of the popular meditation app Calm exude a sense of serenity.

Several apps leverage the latest research on cognitive behavioral therapy to help address larger issues. Although the apps are not a substitute for professional treatment, they do put a host of resources at your fingertips. Pacifica provides a self-help toolkit and access to a support group whenever you need it, while Joyable lets you work with a trained coach via text, email, or phone.

    Calm

    Meditation and Sleep Stories

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    Headspace: Meditation & Sleep

    Relax, sleep & manage stress

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    Lake: Coloring Books

    Relax & paint the stress away

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    Sanvello:Stress & Anxiety Help

    Relieve symptoms feel happier

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    Joyable

    Coached mental health

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4. Reading reinvented

What do you call page-turners with no pages?

Some of this year’s best reading apps.

Spanning genres from sci-fi to romance, they turn storytelling on its head: Hooked transforms text message conversations into edge-of-your-seat thrillers, while in the Choose Your Own Adventure–style games Choices and Episode, you shape the plot as you read. Serial Box Publishing, meanwhile, brings back the lost art of serialized fiction.

You don’t have to be a bookworm to appreciate how Bookout turns reading into a game.

This year, we also saw apps that encourage us to appreciate books in new ways. We love how Bookout gamifies reading, helping us track our page-per-week goals with beautiful infographics. And although we didn’t manage to get through all of the great novels released this year, Blinkist, with its handy synopses, at least gives us the gist of the nonfiction best-sellers.

Reading has always been a pleasure, but thanks to these apps, this year it feels new again.

    Blinkist: Read in 15 minutes

    Insights from 3000+ Books

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    Bookly - Read More Books

    Track & See Reading Stats

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    Choices: Stories You Play

    Choose your drama story game

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    Episode - Choose Your Story

    Explore. Play. Create.

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    HOOKED

    addictive movies and shows

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    Serial Box

    Audio + ebook | Orphan Black

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