Every year, Apple takes time during its Worldwide Developer Conference to highlight applications that push their platforms forward in some interesting or useful way. In 2015, with OS X and iOS becoming increasingly more powerful, the following applications are doing some truly remarkable things. Here are the apps that won design awards from Apple this year.
Shadowmatic is a game with really impressive graphics performance that requires players to move and rotate objects on screen to cast shadows of specific objects onto the wall behind them. It sounds easy but gets very challenging in later levels. This game was highlighted for its advanced graphics, unique gameplay and distinctive look.
Metamorphabet is an app that represents letters of the alphabet in interesting ways while depicting words that begin with those letters. For instance, as you poke and prod the letter G, it will morph into a playable guitar, and more prodding will cause a garden to begin to grow around it. The app uses engaging graphics and a fun soundtrack to delight children who are just learning the language, and parents looking for a fun way to teach the alphabet.
Robinhood is a stock trading app that uses a fun demonstration method and geolocation to help you gain confidence in making trades, and to help you find relevant stocks for your location. Apple highlighted the clean design and social approach to investing as reasons for giving Robinhood this award.
Affinity Designer is a graphics design app that attempts to combine the best parts of vector and pixel-based graphic design. The app takes full advantage of the graphics capabilities of the newest Mac hardware, so it’s no surprise Apple was more than happy to give them this award. Features Apple highlighted in the ceremony included the localization in many common languages, and full use of OpenGL and 64-bit, multi-core processors.
If you haven’t played Crossy Road, you should definitely give it a try. This game is extremely fun and addicting, and it’s use of multiple characters available through in-app purchase adds a lot of personality to the game. The clean, beautiful 8-bit graphics, fun soundtrack, and sharing features with collision freeze-frames make Crossy Road an easy choice for the design award.
Fantastical 2 is the calendar app power users love, and the calendar Apple wishes it had made. This feature-packed application uses some very advanced natural language processing to parse complete sentences into new events. It can also take full advantage of MapKit, location awareness, geo-fencing, iCloud Reminders and more, and it works with many big calendar protocols like CalDAV, iCloud and Google Calendars. Fantastical 2 is probably the most powerful calendar app you can find today.
Workflow is a very powerful app to string together common tasks on your phone. Again, this is one of those apps that you really have to experience to understand what it can do. This app works best with the new share sheets and action extensions in iOS 8, and allows you do perform complex tasks with all kinds of data found on your phone. Picture management, sharing, location-based tasks, all can be handled with ease with workflows. The app was also highlighted in the award ceremony for the developers’ careful and complete integration with VoiceOver, so even blind users can put together powerful scripts on the iPhone and iPad in a simple, intuitive way.
Does Not Commute is another very well-done, unique game for the iPad and iPhone. The game takes full advantage of new graphics capabilities, and it won a design award for its vintage design esthetic and fun, addictive game-play. In the game, you must navigate 10-15 cars per round in a small neighbourhood one at a time. However, the catch is that each subsequent car you navigate to its destination must also avoid the cars that came before it. This sounds easy, but it isn’t. Another easy choice for a design award.
Vainglory is a multiplayer, mobile battle arena game. Apple has obviously enjoyed this game and its developers, as they spent some time on stage last year showing off the graphics capabilities of the iPad with their beautiful and graphics-intensive game. The breadth of characters available, and the use of iOS’s new Metal graphics frameworks definitely contributed to this award.
Pacemaker is a DJing app that lets you put down your phone and enjoy the party. The app features a number of interesting ways to spice up a song, allowing you to add unique audio effects to tracks that sync to the beat of the music you’re playing. The app also has a powerful auto-pilot mode, so you can leave it and enjoy yourself without worrying about bringing everyone down. The developers also brought out a Watch app almost immediately that works perfectly with the phone and provides powerful controls for the app, so this award was also a no-brainer.
Elementary Minute is a simple quiz game that is very fast and fluid, and is made for iPhone and Apple Watch. The app is very simple to use but gives you the ability to learn and quiz yourself about a variety of interesting topics on the fly, or when you only have a few minutes to spare.
jump-O is another very simple, hand-drawn game that was designed by two students while they were at school. Players control a round ball in a world full of squares, and spikes and bullets must be avoided as you navigate the minimalist levels. The motivation for the game is said to have been inspired by the developers’ avoidance of bullies while in school, hence the round ball in a world full of squares.