Putting another year in the books means that it is once again awards season, and Apple is ready to reveal its App Store Awards winners for 2021. The tech giant announced the field of 15 honorees last week, representing a wide array of offerings ranging from sports programming to engrossing game experiences to apps that build community and cultural investment.
“In 2021, apps played a more essential role in our lives than ever before. They helped keep us moving forward in a year that continued to challenge us in so many ways, as a global community and in our own lives,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “I’ve been lucky to meet developers of all ages and backgrounds, from all around the world. For all their diversity, the common thread is a passion for creating apps that improve and enrich people’s lives. We’re proud that the App Store has helped make it possible for their innovations to flourish.”
Notable among the App of the Year winners is digital notebook and editing tool Craft, which was honored as the Mac App of the Year. The app gives users an intuitive toolbox to let them write, edit and share content with ease, or as CEO and Co-Founder Balint Orosz describes it, a reimagining of the notebook to meet the evolution of how we collect and interact with information. Users can easily combine notes, images, audio and video into multimedia documents that can be shared with a click and aids everything from presentations to teachers’ lesson planning to web design.
Apple’s Trend of the Year for 2021 was Connection, and the apps honored under that delineation were chosen by Apple for their ability to “[bring] people together in meaningful ways while meeting social, personal, and professional needs for users around the world.” Those honored were sus-simulation game Among Us, equitable dating app Bumble, women-driven social audio app Peanut, Black-owned restaurant guidebook EatOkra and graphic design program Canva.
EatOkra founders Anthony and Janique Edwards’ goals in building their app expanded from a personal desire to support Black-owned eateries and businesses in Brooklyn, N.Y. to giving users in major metropolitan areas the ability to do the same.
EatOkra’s user base grew exponentially over the course of 2021, which Janique attributes in part to a heightened focus on racial equity and justice in addition to the increased use of restaurant and food delivery apps during the pandemic.The app’s growth has the couple ready to expand the app’s advocacy efforts in the near future, including an E-learning platform to aid Black-owned restaurants with everything from menu development to marketing.
Canva received its honor for demystifying the intimidating world of design, delivering users a robust and easy-to-use toolbox that helps anyone dive into the world of design. CPO and co-founder Cameron Adams touts the app’s usefulness for business owners, educators and beyond as a way to build visual communication tools easily that lead to higher achievement. Canva is adding mobile photo and video editing tools, as well as plans for dedicated desktop and education apps.
Adams also noted Canva’s commitment to sustainability and increased efforts to combat climate change. According to Canva, the company’s operations in Australia, where it is headquartered, was certified carbon neutral in 2020 and aims to bring its global operations to carbon neutral by the end of 2021, with the ultimate goal of being carbon positive by 2023.
Apple also honored notable titles in the mobile gaming sphere, including Riot Games’ League of Legends: Wild Rift and a complete remaster of Cyan’s classic Myst0. Apple TV Game of the Year winner Space Marshals 3, developed by Pixelbite Studio, is a notable example of the continued evolution of mobile game development.
Developer Mattias Olsson explained how the scope of story the team wanted to tell in their sci-fi western tactical shooter had to shift due to the platform. Three games in, the team is still unfolding a script originally meant for just the first game due to limitations, but those hindrances also pushed them to use level design to communicate storytelling elements as well. The end product is a game that feels engrossing and looks great on Apple devices as well as a TV. A new chapter is due out in early 2022.
The full list of Apple App Store Awards winners is listed below:
iPhone App of the Year: Toca Life World – Toca Boca
iPad App of the Year: LumaFusion – LumaTouch
Mac App of the Year: Craft – Luki Labs Limited
Apple TV App of the Year: DAZN – DAZN Group
Apple Watch App of the Year: Carrot Weather – Grailr
iPhone Game of the Year: League of Legends: Wild Rift – Riot Games
iPad Game of the Year: MARVEL Future Revolution – Netmarble Corporation
Mac Game of the Year: Myst – Cyan
Apple TV Game of the Year: Space Marshals 3 – Pixelbite
Apple Arcade Game of the Year: Fantasian – Mistwalker
Trend of the Year:
Among Us – Innersloth, Bumble – Bumble Inc., Canva – Canva, EatOkra – Anthony & Janique Edwards, Peanut – Peanut App Limited
Brian Bell is a queer freelance writer covering tech, pro wrestling, esports, games, comics and TV. Find and follow him on Twitter @WonderboyOTM.