In the much-anticipated revelation of the year’s top apps and games, Apple and Google have cast their votes, with hiking enthusiast haven AllTrails bagging Apple’s iPhone App of the Year, while Google Play crowned Imprint: Learn Visually as the supreme app. Coincidentally, both tech giants unanimously agreed on Honkai: Star Rail as the Game of the Year.
These year-end accolades not only spotlight the latest and greatest apps but also provide a glimpse into the state of app marketplaces, offering a snapshot of what captivated consumers throughout the year.
In an intriguing departure from the norm, Apple opted for a selection that didn’t necessarily feature groundbreaking or newly released apps. The finalists for iPhone App of the Year included perennial favorites like the language learning marvel Duolingo and the travel-savvy Flighty, alongside the ultimate winner, AllTrails.
This deviation from previous years, which showcased innovative newcomers like BeReal in 2022, reflects Apple’s acknowledgment of well-established and meticulously designed mobile companions deserving of recognition.
What raises eyebrows is the omission of any AI app in the app of the year category. This is particularly noteworthy considering ChatGPT’s extraordinary success, having become the fastest-growing consumer application in history earlier this year. Despite ChatGPT’s meteoric rise and other AI apps raking in substantial revenue, Apple consciously steered clear of the AI category.
Noteworthy winners in other categories include Prêt-à-Makeup for iPad App of the Year, Photomator for Mac App of the Year, and Hello Kitty Island Adventure as Apple Arcade Game of the Year, among others. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, expressed admiration for the developers, praising their ingenuity, exceptional quality, and purpose-driven missions.
Even in Cultural Impact categories, where the influence of AI on culture is undeniable, Apple chose not to crown an AI app. Instead, the honors went to apps like Pok Pok, Proloquo, Too Good To Go, Unpacking, and Finding Hannah.
Despite the AI absence, Apple acknowledged the impact of generative AI by naming it the “Trend of the Year,” showcasing a collection of generative AI apps without specific names.
Google, on the other hand, took a distinctive approach by highlighting “multi-device” apps. Spotify emerged as the best multi-device app, intriguingly, given recent revelations about its unique deal with Google to bypass Play Store fees. The best multi-device game title was claimed by the turn-based strategy game OUTERPLANE – Strategy Anime.
In a user-centric move, ChatGPT clinched the title of User’s Choice App of the Year, while MONOPOLY GO! secured the User’s Choice Game of the Year. Google acknowledged a variety of other apps, including Bumble for Friends, Voidpet Garden: Mental Health, and WhatsApp Messenger for different categories.
The absence of an AI app as the overall winner in both Apple and Google’s selections raises questions about the intentional avoidance of this burgeoning category. Nevertheless, the diverse array of winners represents the app landscape’s ever-evolving nature and the constant pursuit of excellence by developers worldwide.
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