Check out the winning apps at Apple’s Best Of 2019 Special Event


Apple’s Best Of 2019 event in New York City was an opportunity to talk shop with the developers of some of the year’s eye-catching apps

This year showed various tech ecosystems pushing themselves beyond typical barriers. Call it marketing to keep users dazzled in the long run. Apps, in particular, have made indelible marks on our quotidian routines. That said, on December 2, Apple held an experiential Best Of 2019 conference, where the top apps for the year across their devices — iPhone, Mac, iPad, Apple TV — and trends, were all under the same roof in a chilly neighbourhood in Manhattan. The event aimed to be a microcosm of this aforementioned ecosystem, letting developers rub shoulders with other developers.

Check out the winning apps at Apple’s Best Of 2019 Special Event

With mobile photography taken to a whole new level, it seemed as though DSLRs and other pricey hardwares became a thing of the past this year. One of the champions of aggrandised mobile experiences is Lux Optics’ Spectre Camera, which was awarded iPhone App Of The Year. This AI-fuelled app at just under 16 megabytes lets users take long-exposure photos, which means you can make crowds or traffic disappear, create light painting effects and eerie water-flows. Expect features such as auto-stabilisation (sorry, tripod fanatics), scene detection and intelligent exposure. The app is just ₹249 with no further in-app purchases.

Co-founder Sebastiaan de With wrote in a Medium blog post on December 4, “Spectre is young — we launched the app in February, and were overwhelmed with the positive response. It was the top paid app in the United States for almost a full week... We are not done with Spectre. We think there is lot of exciting opportunities for computational photography left for us to explore. We have huge plans in 2020, and can’t wait to show you what we have been working on.”

Graphic designers had much to play with this year, too. iPad App Of 2019 is Flow By Moleskine, a digital notebook allowing users to create to their hearts’ content using calligraphy pens, graphite pencils and chisel-tipped markers, mimicking the real thing. These tips have been calibrated to the millimetre too. To add to the experience, one can re-mark over previous lines to intensify colours.

Check out the winning apps at Apple’s Best Of 2019 Special Event

Mac App Of The Year, Affinity Publisher, is a pro-level design suite — yes, suite — by Serif, a tech company founded in 1987. With Affinity Publisher (₹3999), users need not switch between programmes for different tasks within a single project. With its elegant user experience and reasonable price point, Affinity Publisher makes pro-level design accessible to everyone, whether you are creating a photo-rich coffee table book or a flyer for your child’s play. Managing director of Serif, Ashley Hewson, believes Affinity Publisher, which launched in June, is Serif’s biggest project by far. The suite is rich in features: one being its StudioLink technology, which allows owners of vector design app Affinity Designer and image editor Affinity Photo to use them right there in an Affinity Publisher layout, simply by clicking the relevant product icon.

Check out the winning apps at Apple’s Best Of 2019 Special Event

Traveller fanatics are gleeful that The Explorers takes home Apple TV App Of 2019, for its support of the community of explorers, scientists and artists, working to create a comprehensive “visual inventory” of the natural world through photo and video. Headed by Olivier Chiabodo and Jean-Pierre Morel, the team features PhD scientists, aerial chief operators and video engineers. The content also sheds light on the work of international NGOs — talk about paying it forward! The Explorers is free to install but there is premium paid content within the app itself.

A screenshot of The Explorers app as shown on an Apple TV

A screenshot of The Explorers app as shown on an Apple TV   | Photo Credit: The Explorers Network

Gaming taken higher

Games this year focussed on two things: visuals and plots. Sky: Children of the Light by thatgamecompany won iPhone Game Of 2019, Hyper Light Drifter by Abylight SL won iPad Game Of 2019, GRIS by Devolver / Nomada Studio won Mac Game Of 2019 and Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap by DotEmu won Apple TV Game of 2019. Noticeably, these games have a similar aesthetics of minimalism, while still supplying immersive storylines.

Check out the winning apps at Apple’s Best Of 2019 Special Event

It seemed as though Apple’s subscription gaming service Arcade had barely got its feet wet — given it only launched in September — but Simogo stole hearts (pun intended) with Sayonara Wild Hearts. The game, published by Annapurna Interactive, features two-dimensional animation — the kind that gets your adrenaline pumping and makes your spirit soar. It has got an otherworldly premise too: the heart of a young woman breaks and the balance of the universe is disturbed... naturally. Suddenly, a diamond butterfly appears in her dreams and leads her through a highway in the sky, where she finds her alter-ego: the masked biker called The Fool. The game has you racing motorcycles, wielding swords and breaking hearts at 200 miles an hour. For Indian gamers, the music of the game was the show-stealer, as it was catchy and synth-rich, complimenting the snazzy visuals. Sayonara Wild Hearts by Daniel Olsén, Jonathan Eng and Linnea Olsson is available in its full album form on Spotify and Apple Music. In this subculture, it would have been interesting to see AI-powered games, given that was a major emerging tech for the past couple of years.

Check out the winning apps at Apple’s Best Of 2019 Special Event

Apple did not forget about app trends; after all, those are indicators of users’ lifestyles. In the name of storytelling, a wave of apps culminated in App Trend of 2019 ‘Storytelling Simplified.’ At the event, reps from Anchor (Anchor FM), Unfold by Unfold Creative, Steller by Expedition Travel Advisor, Over by Over, Inc and Wattpad by Wattpad Corp were present too. But when it comes to Game Trend of 2019, ‘Blockbusters Reimagined’ saw enhanced revivals of Mario Kart Tour by Nintendo, Minecraft Earth by Mojang, Pokémon Masters by DeNA Co, Call of Duty: Mobile by Activision Publishing, Assassin’s Creed Rebellion by Ubisoft among others.

With UX design being a point of contention for many developers and designers this year, clearly Apple’s mind was largely on ‘the pretty’, proving 2019 has been the year of vanity with borderline-unhealthy doses of pop culture.

(The writer was at Apple’s Best Of 2019 Special Event in New York City at the invitation of Apple Inc.)

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 2:02:14 PM |

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