Apple names 15 best apps of the year for iPhone, iPad and more — here they are

Apple Best of 2020 Awards
(Image credit: Apple)

If you spent a lot of time hunkered down at home because of the coronavirus pandemic this year, you weren't the only one. So did a fair amount of people who create apps for iPhones, iPads, Macs and other Apple devices, and their effort to keep people safe, healthy and still productive got special attention's in Apple's annual year-end app awards for 2020.

Apple announced the Best of 2020 winners today (Dec. 2), and the honors list has a distinctive "if we're stuck at home, we might as well make the best of it" feel to it. More than half of the 15 winning apps are the sort of tools that come in handy when you're trying to work or study remotely or just hoping to keep a good mental and physical outlook on things.

"This year, more than ever before, some of our most creative and connected moments happened in apps. This was thanks to the amazing work of developers who introduced fresh, helpful app experiences throughout the year," said Phil Schiller, formerly Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing and now an Apple Fellow, in an announcement heralding the winning apps.

Take Wakeout, Apple's pick for the iPhone app of the year. It's an app that prompts you to intersperse short, physical movements during the day to prevent from getting too sedentary. With people sheltering in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wakeout proved its worth by encouraging people to keep moving and reducing stress.

Wakeout Best of 2020 app

Wakeout (Image credit: Andres Canella)

Zoom, the iPad App of the Year, has become synonymous with remote meetings and classrooms that have sprung up because of the pandemic. The well-established calendar app Fantastical took home Mac App of the Year honors for adding features aimed at making it easier to work at home. And the Apple Watch App of the Year was Endel, which offers personalized soothing sounds designed to help you relax, focus or sleep.

Fantastical Best of 2020 app

Fantastical (Image credit: Flexibits)

As for the Apple TV App of the Year, Disney Plus gets the prize for giving everyone something to binge during the past nine months.

Apple's Best of 2020 awards also include a category called App Trends, and even the winners here stuck with the pandemic theme. Explain Everything is a white-boarding app that's been especially useful for teachers instructing students remotely, while Caribu is a video calling app for kids that lets draw, read and play interactive games with far-flung family members. Shine, a past winner, was recognized again for its efforts to promote mental health, and the ShareTheMeal charity app was honored for giving people a easy way to donate meals to those in need.

It's not all work for the Best of 2020 awards, as Apple recognized the best games for each of its devices. Winners included:

  • Genshin Impact, iPhone Game of the Year, for delivering a console-quality free-to-play open-world adventure game to mobile devices;
  • Legends of Runterra, iPad Game of the Year, for being a clever strategy card game;
  • Disco Elysium, Mac Game of the year, the role playing game that made its Mac debut this year;
  • Dandara Trials of Fear, Apple TV Game of the Year, for the immersive gameplay and battle mechanics of this 2D platform game; and
  • Secret Sasquatch, Apple Arcade Game of the Year, for its carefree '90s aesthetic.

Sneaky Sasquacth Best of 2020 App

Sneaky Sasquatch (Image credit: RAC7)

Pokémon Go was also recognized in the App Trends category for its use of augmented reality.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.