App Store Awards 2022 – Discover


For over a decade, the App Store editorial team has taken a moment at the end of the year to celebrate the very best apps and games. We’ve heralded the work of individual self-taught developers and huge international teams.

With so many wonderful apps on the App Store all over the world, selecting just a few award winners is no easy task. As always, we focus on technical innovation, user experience, and design. Then we consider the impact these apps have had on our lives.

It’s our honor to celebrate this year’s winners. Enjoy!

iPhone App of the Year: BeReal

A social media sensation that gave us an authentic look into the lives of our friends and family.

Download BeReal from the App Store

iPhone Game of the Year: Apex Legends Mobile

This thoughtfully reengineered groundbreaking battle royale is its best version to date.

Download Apex Legends Mobile from the App Store

iPad App of the Year: GoodNotes 5

With best-in-class Apple Pencil support and powerful collaboration tools, the gold standard of digital notetaking got even better.

Download GoodNotes 5 from the App Store

iPad Game of the Year: Moncage

A stunningly fresh spin on mobile puzzling that expanded our minds and got us thinking in thrilling new ways.

Download Moncage from the App Store

Mac App of the Year: MacFamilyTree

We loved documenting and visualizing our family history with this comprehensive genealogy app.

Download MacFamilyTree from the Mac App Store

Mac Game of the Year: Inscryption

The surprises never stop in this deep deck-building adventure.

Download Inscryption from the Mac App Store

Apple Watch App of the Year: Gentler Streak

A fitness tracker that encouraged us to tune in to our bodies—and take a rest when we needed.

Download Gentler Streak from the App Store

Apple TV App of the Year: ViX

A Spanish-language streamer that brought together the drama we love and the sports that get our heart pumping.

Download ViX from the App Store

Apple TV Game of the Year: El Hijo

We loved how this spirited stealth adventure values brains over brawn—and looks stunning on the big screen.

Download El Hijo from the App Store

Arcade Game of the Year: Wylde Flowers

With remarkably authentic diversity, this life sim’s idyllic world makes free expression (and casting spells) incredibly fun.

Download Wylde Flowers from Apple Arcade

Cultural Impact Winners:

Dot’s Home

Shining a spotlight on historical injustices through a compelling time-travel tale.

Download Dot’s Home

How We Feel

Helping us engage more deeply with our emotions—and providing strategies for addressing them in the moment.

Download How We Feel from the App Store

Inua

Honoring the heritage of the Inuit, whose folklore gives a breathtaking tale its beating heart.

Download Inua from the App Store

Locket Widget

Bringing friends and family closer by helping us see the small moments we otherwise might miss.

Download Locket Widget from the App Store

Waterllama

Encouraging everyone to stay hydrated through a winning combination of gentle guidance and adorable characters.

Download Waterllama from the App Store

Originally published on November 28, 2022 on the App Store Today tab.



Q&A: 10 Questions with Design Evangelism – Discover


For the inaugural edition of Ask Apple, members of our Design Evangelism team got together to answer your Slack questions about design philosophy, color guidelines, keyboard shortcuts, and much more. Here are a few highlights from that conversation, including guidance about the HIG, tips on reducing clutter, and a very important message about the tab bar.

Do you ever feel like your design isn’t quite right, but you’re not sure why?

All the time! In fact, “Feeling like the design isn’t quite right” can sometimes seem like an everyday mood. When this happens, there are a few strategies we find helpful, and the first is: Phone a friend! Sometimes it takes another person to gut-check why we’re feeling uncertain about a design, and it’s always great to engage in a conversation and critique. Plus, this not only requires you to explain the problem (which alone can help you identify what’s not working), it also allows you to personally step away from it — at least for a moment.

How do you know when to start cutting features to make your app less cluttered and more user-friendly?

This is a great exercise for a whiteboard or sticky notes. First, write down all the features/areas of your app. Then, bucket them into what fulfills the goals your users will have. If something feels superfluous, consider whether you need that feature. There’s a balance between what you need visible all the time, what can be a few taps away, and what doesn’t need to be there at all. (It’s also a helpful way to prioritize the most important functionality of your app — which can help you better organize your app’s hierarchy!)

Is is considered best practice to limit device orientation on iPhone?

You should really leave device orientation up to users. We love when apps support both portrait and landscape and would only recommend limiting orientation in certain app scenarios, such as when movement or device mounting would make orientation-switching feel distracting.

What are some guidelines for colors and shades?

Using color for actions is a subtle way to brand the interface without being distracting or intrusive. Start by selecting a main tint color, establishing your workflows and actions, then sketching those out with the tint color representing actions. (You’ll notice our first-party apps all have one key tint color; for instance, Mail is blue and Podcasts is purple.) When you’re working on high-fidelity visual designs, use a palette that complements that color.

Is it necessary to include tab bar labels for common tabs like Home, Search, or Profile?

In many cases, labels are recommended for clarity and accessibility. Home, Search, and Profile are generally sufficient for communicating meaning on their own, but they’re exceptions to the rule. Many icons are not as widely understood. Tab bar labels create a stronger distinction from toolbars, which don’t have labels. Plus, removing the labels doesn’t provide much benefit to users. It doesn’t save any space, nor does it significantly reduce visual information from the interface.

How should I think about keyboard shortcuts that feel intuitive and don’t interfere with system shortcuts? When should I use one modifier over another (for instance, Option vs. Shift vs. Command)?

In general, the go-to modifier key is Command because it’s easiest to reach with your left thumb. And speaking of, here are a few more rules of thumb:

  • The fewer modifier keys, the better.
  • Using the first letter of the action name helps people remember the shortcut.
  • From an ergonomic standpoint, keys nearest modifiers and easily reachable using one’s index and middle fingers — Q, W, E, A, S, D, O, and P — tend to be more successful as shortcuts.

Want to dive in a little deeper? You’ll find lots of good information in the HIG.

Human Interface Guidelines – Keyboards

How large are the specified margins for the iOS and iPadOS safe areas?

On iOS and iPadOS, the layout margins are 16pt in the compact width size class and 20pt in the regular width size class. But we typically think of safe areas as distinct things that work in tandem with margins. Safe areas are highly dynamic and change with device orientation, screen size, and a variety of other factors (like whether navigation bars, toolbars, or tab bars are displayed). You’ll find lots of information in the HIG.

Human Interface Guidelines – Layout

When designing for lists, how can I stop rows and cells from feeling overcrowded?

Think about progressive disclosure and hierarchy. What information do people need at each level of your app? When cells feel overcrowded, question the purpose of each element. Maybe a photo or icon isn’t beneficial, or maybe the secondary text can be a description on the detail view.

Do you always try to adhere as much as possible to the HIG, or do you try to do something different with every design?

Great question! We do try to adhere to our foundations and follow our own design patterns for the benefit of consistency and understanding. (We also try to use system components because they’re so efficient to build with.) But that being said, we’re also willing to push on the HIG where it makes sense — if it means an overall benefit for users. We’re pretty adamant that the HIG shouldn’t be a set of rules, but very good suggestions. And we evolve it constantly based on what we’re seeing in the community and how we want to push our own aesthetics and interactions for the future.

Is it good practice to hide the tab bar when navigating to sub-pages?

Nope. 🙂

(It’s OK to cover it for brief periods when a modal sheet is displayed. Otherwise, hiding a tab bar can make people feel lost.)



Spotlight on: The Dynamic Island – Discover


Shape-shifting animations. Effervescent effects. And a downright playful name. “I genuinely wasn’t expecting [the Dynamic Island],” says Christian Selig, developer of popular Reddit client Apollo. “That’s what blew me away: It’s just not something that’s been around.”

The feature brings liveliness — and Live Activities — to the status bar on iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, transforming notifications, alerts, and activities into a fluid and interactive piece of animation. Whether tracking a delivery, following the game, or checking the status of an upcoming flight, the Dynamic Island helps keep people up to date without distraction.

“(The Dynamic Island is) perfect for us,” says Ryan Jones, developer of the travel-tracking app Flighty. “For travel, which can make you stress about missing something, it offers easy background reassurance.”

We caught up with five developers — including Selig and Jones — to learn how they’re designing and building for Live Activities and the Dynamic Island.

Citymapper: ‘It’s what we’ve been dreaming about for years’

If you’re an app that wants to help people move around a city, it’s hard to overstate the power of live updating in the Dynamic Island. “Live Activities changes everything here,” says Victor Wang, head of product for route-planning app Citymapper. “It’s what we’ve been dreaming about for years, and it’s a big step toward our vision of being a personal assistant in your pocket.”

For Citymapper, the Dynamic Island is less about transit and more about comfort. On iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, the app’s signature GO feature — which helpfully lays out the path of your entire journey or commute — uses the Dynamic Island in place of notifications or simply checking the app.

It offers a single live-updating view that communicates key information: how long you’ll have to wait for the next bus, how many more stops until you disembark, and when you need to get off the train or bus (and, by association, your phone). “[The Dynamic Island] will show a countdown so you can understand, ‘OK the bus will be here in 10 minutes — now 5 — now 2,” says Wang. “Our hope is that you’ll feel more comfortable waiting.”

Citymapper’s Dynamic Island shifts based on where you are in your journey, in this case on your train (left), at your stop (center), and walking to your destination (right).

Citymapper’s Dynamic Island shifts based on where you are in your journey, in this case on your train (left), at your stop (center), and walking to your destination (right).

iOS designer Jason Hibbs shares that the Citymapper team initially thought Live Activities would function as an enhanced set of notifications. “But we’re actually able to say not just ‘Turn left,’ but also ‘Here’s how many minutes you have until the bus arrives.’”

Live Activities can help you feel more on top of things.

Victor Wang, Citymapper

Citymapper breaks each trip into four phases: walking to a stop, waiting at a stop, riding, and then walking to your destination. In each phase, Dynamic Island will show a small icon — like a bus, train, or walking person — with a countdown to your next destination or transfer. The team discarded other ideas in pursuit of that simplicity — eschewing, among other things, turn-by-turn directions. “We didn’t want it to get in your way,” says Wang. “The idea is that you can still read or play your game or do whatever you’re doing.”

In short, you can do anything you like — save for worry about your trip. “Live Activities can help you feel more on top of things,” says Wang. “You can plan better and have sufficient confidence for the next step.”

Download Citymapper from the App Store

Apollo for Reddit: ‘It’s kind of hard not to go wild’

When he first learned about the Dynamic Island, Christian Selig pounced. “The way the engineers built the APIs, it’s kind of hard not to go wild,” Selig laughs. “It’s like you write four lines and the widgets are done. It’s pretty magical.”

Ideas for Apollo, his Reddit client, came almost immediately: “Say a new episode comes out, and you’re following a subreddit and reacting with other fans,” Selig says. “The Dynamic Island will auto-refresh and show you new content and comments as they come in.”

Apollo’s Dynamic Island shows new content and comments — like fun Easter eggs in TV shows — as they come in.

Apollo’s Dynamic Island shows new content and comments — like fun Easter eggs in TV shows — as they come in.

If so moved, you could stream the show in one app while tracking new posts on the subreddit through updates in the Dynamic Island. “In compact presentation, you’ll see the current number of comments. When you go to (the expanded presentation), you’ll see high-performing comments — like if someone caught a reference you missed.”

Outside of the Dynamic Island, Apollo’s Live Activities are robust as well: You can keep tabs on what’s trending, follow your Reddit karma, and — this is true — track the actual physical distance you’ve scrolled in Apollo (measured in feet, miles, or by the Eiffel tower). “This has been one of the more fun experiences I’ve had doing iOS development in quite a while,” Selig says, “and it’s a fun job, so that says a lot.”

Download Apollo for Reddit from the App Store

SmartGym: ‘I had to focus on staying out of the way’

SmartGym’s Matt Abras sees the Dynamic Island more as a coach than a static feature: His app is exploring something that displays both your current workout and the rests between each set — so you know when it’s time to get back to work.

“It’s easy to be distracted by your phone during rests, right? A 30- or 45-second break can become a few minutes,” Abras says. “This is way better than getting a notification that says, ‘Hey, rest ended.’”

SmartGym’s Dynamic Island shows the type and duration of your current workout — and prepares you for your next one.

SmartGym’s Dynamic Island shows the type and duration of your current workout — and prepares you for your next one.

Abras went through a number of iterations when designing Live Activities for SmartGym. He’d initially tried using the Dynamic Island to display heart rate and calories during a workout, but it felt superfluous. “In order to track health data, you need Apple Watch, which is already showing that information,” he says. “What’s really important to show at that time? Health metrics? A large countdown? How many sets you’ve done and how many you have left? There’s a lot of potential information.”

What’s really important to show at that time?

Matt Abras, SmartGym

Instead, Abras refocused, using the Dynamic Island to share metrics and reps. “When someone’s working out, they need to do what they need to do without realizing the app is there,” he says. “I had to focus on staying out of the way.”

How did he keep that balance between practicality and invisibility? “It’s all about taste,” he says, with a smile.

Download SmartGym from the App Store

Flighty: ‘We really have to shine when things go awry’

Apps can easily take advantage of the Dynamic Island to quickly spotlight a single nugget of key information. When it came to Flighty, however, Ryan Jones wanted to tackle a slightly more daunting project: showcasing multiple nuggets of information — departure times, gate changes, baggage claim numbers, and the like — that could all change on the fly.

Flighty is at its best when dealing with such “IRROPS” — the industry abbreviation for irregular operations. “We really have to shine when things go awry,” says Jones. But that meant accounting for every thunderstorm, equipment delay, or late plane into Dallas.

“People want different data points [like]… what time is a flight leaving, where is it leaving from, how long until you land,” says Jones. But this information is almost always time-dependent; after your flight departs, for example, you likely won’t need information about your departure gate.

Flighty’s Dynamic Island helps guide your travel every step of the way, from before you board (above) to after you take off (below).

Flighty’s Dynamic Island helps guide your travel every step of the way, from before you board (above) to after you take off (below).

After exploring a few possibilities for the Dynamic Island and Live Activities, Jones and the team decided to make the information within the Dynamic Island — well — dynamic. Before your gate departure, for example, Flighty’s information within the Dynamic Island will operate like a departure sign at a big airport. “That’s our real-world analogy,” Jones says. “Those signs have one line per flight, and that’s a good guiding light — they’ve had 50 years of figuring out what’s important.”

In addition to the unpredictable nature of travel, Jones and team must also account for how every single person will, at some point, lose their connection. “Whenever [someone] takes off, we have to assume that we won’t see them again until they land,” says Jones.

The solve: Once a plane pushes back, Flighty is ready to go offline at any minute. From that point on, the Dynamic Island switches over to flight progress bars and counters; the minimal presentation is a simple circular chart that tracks your flight’s duration.

No matter where someone is in their flight, the Dynamic Island can help them feel confident and comfortable in their travel routine. “That’s a big change from ‘I’ve gotta be listening for notifications all the time,’” Jones says. And it’s one that Flighty welcomes.

Download Flighty from the App Store

Wakeout: ‘Like a healthy work coach’

Workout-anywhere app Wakeout encourages regular breaks during the day — not only for brief bursts of aerobic exercise, but also for pauses to reduce eye strain, grab a sip of water, or simply clear your mind. “It’s all about: How can we help people break up their sedentary moments but stay in their flow states?” says developer Pedro Wunderlich.

Many of these activities take as little as 15 seconds, making the Dynamic Island a reliable resource for helping people using the app. “I want to find the teams behind the Dynamic Island and Live Activities and ask, ‘Were you thinking of us? Is this a love letter?’” he laughs.

Wakeout's Dynamic Island nudges you to exercise and encourages you to focus.

Wakeout’s Dynamic Island nudges you to exercise and encourages you to focus.

Wakeout has long used push notifications, but the ActivityKit framework in iOS 16 gave Wunderlich a new way to help people stay on top of their routines. “Our customers have actually told us they want more notifications, not fewer,” says Wunderlich. “We hear, ‘Wakeout is really helpful, but only if it interrupts me.’ So Live Activities is what our customers have been asking for without knowing it.”

When designing for the Dynamic Island, Wunderlich kept both tiny tasks and longer aerobic breaks in mind. “[It’s] such a great way to maintain a presence and let people know when it’s a good time to hydrate, move, close your eyes for 30 seconds, and do all these healthy little breaks that add up.”

For smaller pauses, Wakeout’s compact presentation in the Dynamic Island shows a countdown along with a small icon (like a water bottle) to remind you about your next task. If that upcoming rest is a brief one and you’re locked into what you’re doing, you can ignore the countdown with no consequence; the alert will simply slip away “like a ship in the night,” says Wunderlich.

It’s all about: How can we help people break up their sedentary routines but stay in their flow states?

Pedro Wunderlich, Wakeout

But if the break is major and there’s a walk, squats, or a set of pushups in your future, the Dynamic Island will spur you to action more insistently. “An actual exercise break — which is Wakeout’s speciality — does stop that timer. Our customers generally do 45-minute focus sessions, so that’s the limit of the sedentary period. After that, we say, ‘OK, it’s time to move your neck, move your shoulders, or stand up.’”

Wunderlich considers the two approaches entirely separate. “The healthy moments are passive; if you don’t pay attention, they dismiss themselves,” he says. “The exercise break is more of a big state change on screen.”

It’s notifications versus interruptions, or reminders versus celebrations. But they all tie back into Wakeout’s goal to keep you firmly on a healthy track throughout your day. “We’re shifting our focus toward healthy work in a more holistic way,” Wunderlich says. “Wakeout has become almost like a healthy work coach.”

Download Wakeout from the App Store

Explore Live Activities and the Dynamic Island



Get started with Swift concurrency – Discover


Meet Swift Async Algorithms

Discover the latest open source Swift package from Apple: Swift Async Algorithms. We’ll explore algorithms from this package that you can use with AsyncSequence, including zip, merge, and throttle. Follow along with us as we use these algorithms to build a great messaging app. We’ll also share best…



Get started with App Intents – Discover


Learn how you can speed up common tasks for people using your app when you use the App Intents framework. Discover how you can programmatically bring your app’s content and functionality to system services like Siri and the Shortcuts app. We’ll show you how you can supply metadata, UI information, activation phrases, and other information the system might need. We’ll also explore how App Intents and App Shortcuts work together, and dive deep on the design of a compelling shortcut. Find out how you can use App Intents to change app content and behaviors based on someone’s active Focus state.




Implement App Shortcuts with App Intents

Discover how you can create Shortcuts in your app with zero user setup. We’ll show you how App Intents can help you present custom Shortcuts views, and explore how you can add support for parameterized phrases to allow people to quickly express their intent. We’ll also share how you can make your…




Design App Shortcuts

Learn how you can surface great features from your app directly in Siri, Spotlight, and the Shortcuts app. We’ll introduce you to App Shortcuts, provide best practices to help you evaluate features in your app that would work well as App Shortcuts, and take you through the process of creating one…




Dive into App Intents

Learn how you can make your app more discoverable and increase app engagement when you use the App Intents framework. We’ll take you through the powerful capabilities of this Swift framework, explore the differences between App Intents and SiriKit Intents, and show you how you can expose your app’s…




Meet Focus filters

Discover how you can customize app behaviors based on someone’s currently enabled Focus. We’ll show you how to use App Intents to define your app’s Focus filters, act on changes from the system, and present your app’s views in different ways. We’ll also explore how you can filter notifications and…

App Shortcuts

App Intents

Ask Apple Q&As



Apple Watch helps discover 12-year-old’s rare cancer


Apple Watch





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A young girl’s family credits the Apple Watch’s heart monitoring features with saving her life — by helping to discover cancer rarely seen in children.

One evening, Imani Mile’s Apple Watch began alerting the 12-year-old to an abnormally high heart rate.

Mile’s mom, Jessica Kitchen, took her to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed her with appendicitis. During the procedure, they discovered a neuroendocrine in her appendix, which is rarely seen in children.

The doctors then learned that the cancer had already spread to other parts of Mile’s body. She had surgery at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital to remove the remaining cancer.

“If she didn’t have that watch, it could have been so much worse,” Kitchen told Hour Detroit.

In July, the Apple Watch helped doctors discover a rare tumor in a woman’s heart after she received multiple warnings that her heart was in atrial fibrillation.



Dive deep with SwiftUI – Discover


What’s new in SwiftUI

It’s a SwiftUI party — and you’re invited! Join us as we share the latest updates and a glimpse into the future of UI framework design. Discover deep levels of customization, advanced techniques for layout, elegant strategies for sharing, and rock-solid structural approaches for designing an app…



What’s new in watchOS – Discover


Apple Watch development has never been simpler with watchOS 9: Discover how you can more easily accomplish common tasks in Xcode, including file management and icon design. Explore the latest native controls like sharing features and steppers, check out SwiftUI-driven components like Swift Charts and improved navigation, and learn how to schedule and manage background tasks. And we’ll help you streamline your complications with WidgetKit.




Build a productivity app for Apple Watch

Your wrist has never been more productive. Discover how you can use SwiftUI and system features to build a great productivity app for Apple Watch. We’ll show you how you can design great work experiences for the wrist, and explore how you can get text input, display a basic chart, and share…




Efficiency awaits: Background tasks in SwiftUI

Background Tasks help apps respond to system events and keep time-sensitive data up to date. Learn how you can use the SwiftUI Background Tasks API to handle tasks succinctly. We’ll show you how to use Swift Concurrency to handle network responses, background refresh, and more — all while…




Meet Transferable

Meet Transferable: a model-layer protocol that allows for effortless support for sharing, drag and drop, copy/paste, and other features in your app.

We’ll explore how you can use the API for common use cases, and take advantage of advanced features to customize the behavior. We’ll also share how…




Go further with Complications in WidgetKit

Discover how you can use WidgetKit to create beautiful complications on watch faces. We’ll introduce you to the watchOS-specific features found in WidgetKit, and help you migrate from existing ClockKit complications.

For more on WidgetKit, watch “Complications and Widgets: Reloaded” from…

Build a Workout App for Apple Watch

Ask Apple Q&As



Explore Live Activities and the Dynamic Island – Discover


Live Activities display your app’s most current data on the iPhone Lock Screen and in the Dynamic Island, helping people keep track of tasks and events that they care about. Discover how you can use ActivityKit to build compelling Live Activities for your apps, and explore the Human Interface Guidelines to learn how to design for the Dynamic Island and Lock Screen. We’ll show you how you can display up-to-date information — like progress, events, scores, or tasks — at a glance, and learn how you can update your Live Activities remotely using Apple Push Notification service (APNs).

To get the most out of these resources, we recommend some familiarity with SwiftUI and WidgetKit.

ActivityKit

Human Interface Guidelines – Live Activities

Updating and ending your Live Activity with remote push notifications

Displaying live data with Live Activities

WidgetKit

Ask Apple Q&As



What’s new in Camera and Photos – Discover


Add Live Text interaction to your app

Learn how you can bring Live Text support for still photos or paused video frames to your app. We’ll share how you can easily enable text interactions, translation, data detection, and QR code scanning within any image view on iOS, iPadOS, or macOS. We’ll also go over how to control interaction…