Apple names best apps and games of 2019

The company's annual "best of" awards are here.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G | Mobile networks | Wireless carriers | Phones | Tablets | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms | Mobile | Console gaming
Eli Blumenthal
3 min read

Apple's annual best apps and games of the year have been revealed. 


With only a few weeks left in 2019, Apple is continuing its recent tradition of closing out the calendar with its list of the best apps and games for the year that was. While big names like YouTube , Netflix and Instagram topped the free download charts for iPhones and iPads , the actual award recipients ran a gamut of developers large and small. 

This year's awards consisted of the "App of the Year" for iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Mac as well as the "App Trend of the Year." Games had similar categories with the addition of a special "Apple Arcade Game of the Year" that spotlighted the best game on Apple's $4.99-a-month subscription service.

The top apps, games and yearly "trends" were chosen by Apple's App Store editors from around the world. In addition to being crowned, past winners have also received a special callout on the App Store's homepage in a section devoted to the awards.

On the apps side, AI-powered photo app Spectre Camera from Lux Optics was named the best iPhone app, with Flow from notebook maker Moleskine taking the honors as the iPad's best app for the year.

Affinity Publisher, an app for graphic design from Serif Labs, was the best Mac app and The Explorers, a 4K virtual touring app from The Explorers Network, was the top Apple TV app

For games, Sky: Children of the Light from developer Thatgamecompany was the iPhone game of the year, while Hyper Light Drifter from developers Abylight and Heart Machine was the iPad's best game. Gris, created by Devolver and Nomada Studio, took home the award for Mac game of the year. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap by DotEmu was the Apple TV game of the year. 

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Sayonara Wild Hearts, created by Annapurna Interactive and Simogo, was crowned the inaugural Apple Arcade Game of the Year. The game was previously showcased by Apple during its iPhone 11 event in September.

The app trend of the year was "Storytelling Simplified" with Apple calling out apps such as Anchor, Unfold, Wattpad, Steller and Over for creating apps that "helped us fill the proverbial blank page with our memories, dreams, images and voices."

New games built around classic or traditional console games and characters on mobile (such as Mario Kart Tour, The Elder Scrolls: Blades and Call of Duty: Mobile) prompted Apple to call the game trend of the year "Blockbusters Reimagined."

In addition to assigning awards, Apple also released its top charts for 2019, which featured a host of common popular apps including YouTube, Instagram, Netflix and Facebook . Viral video app TikTok was the fourth most popular free iPhone app and the ninth most popular free iPad app.

Full charts for the most downloaded apps can be found below.

Top free iPhone apps

  1. YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream
  2. Instagram
  3. Snapchat
  4. TikTok - Make Your Day
  5. Messenger
  6. Gmail - Email by Google
  7. Netflix
  8. Facebook
  9. Google Maps - Transit & Food
  10. Amazon - Shopping made easy

Top paid iPhone apps

  1. Facetune
  2. HotSchedules
  3. Dark Sky Weather
  4. The Wonder Weeks
  5. AutoSleep Tracker for Watch
  6. TouchRetouch
  7. Afterlight - Photo Editor 
  8. Procreate Pocket
  9. Sky Guide
  10. Toca Hair Salon 3

Top free iPad apps

  1. YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream
  2. Netflix
  3. Amazon Prime Video
  4. Google Chrome
  5. Hulu: Watch TV Shows & Movies
  6. Messenger
  7. Gmail - Email by Google
  8. Facebook
  9. TikTok - Make Your Day
  10. Calculator 

Top paid iPad apps

  1. Procreate 
  2. Notability
  3. GoodNotes 5
  4. Duet Display
  5. Toca Hair Salon 3
  6. Toca Life: Neighborhood 
  7. XtraMath
  8. PDF Expert 7: PDF Editor
  9. LumaFusion
  10. Affinity Designer

Top free iPhone games

  1. Mario Kart Tour
  2. Color Bump 3D
  3. aquapark.io
  4. Call of Duty: Mobile
  5. BitLife - Life Simulator
  6. Polysphere - art of puzzle
  7. Wordscapes
  8. Fortnite
  9. Roller Splat!
  10. AMAZE!!

Top paid iPhone games

  1. Minecraft
  2. Heads Up!
  3. Plague Inc.
  4. Bloons TD 6
  5. Geometry Dash
  6. Rebel Inc.
  7. The Game of Life
  8. Stardew Valley
  9. Bloons TD 5
  10. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Top free iPad games

  1. Roblox
  2. aquapark.io
  3. Paper.io 2
  4. Color Bump 3D
  5. Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game
  6. Fortnite
  7. Polysphere - art of puzzle
  8. Wordscapes
  9. Tiles Hop - EDM Rush
  10. Helix Jump

Top paid iPad games

  1. Minecraft
  2. Geometry Dash
  3. Bloons TD 6
  4. Plague Inc.
  5. Amazing Frog?
  6. Stardew Valley
  7. The Game of Life
  8. Heads Up!
  9. Terraria
  10. Bendy and the Ink Machine

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