Apple's favorite iPhone and iPad apps of the year revealed — all the 2022 winners

Apple App Store Awards 2022
(Image credit: Future)

Apple has announced the winners of its annual App Store Awards, an editorialized campaign that honors the best iPhone apps and best iPad apps of the year. This year's crowned collection includes a handful of Cultural Impact winners, all of which embody the ability for apps to influence life beyond devices.

For example, Cultural Impact winner Locket Widget connects users to their favorite people with a home screen widget that displays personal photos uploaded by friends and family. Another Cultural Impact winner, Waterllama, gamifies hydration through an aesthetically creative water-tracking app for iPhone and Apple Watch.

Of course, there are a number of winning apps that simply excelled for performance and popularity. It might not come as a surprise that BeReal, the viral social networking platform fostering spontaneity and authenticity, has been awarded the best iPhone app of the year. Meanwhile, GoodNotes 5 saw impressive growth among digital notetakers as best iPad app of year. 

Several games earned recognition in this year's awards as well, promoting Apple Arcade games and Apple TV games in particular. There are 16 winners total for 2022 — below is an overview of all the categories, as well as a closer look at some of the honorees we've had the chance to speak with as part of the awards reveal.  

App Store Awards 2022 list of winners

Locket Widget — a closer-knit kind of social networking

Locket Widget

(Image credit: Future)

Locket Widget started as a way for Matt Moss and his girlfriend to stay close when they embarked on a long-distance relationship. The app let each of them upload photos that appeared on the other's iPhone home screen via the Locket widget. But when Moss's TikTok video demonstrating Locket Widget went viral, the app became a platform for anyone to connect with the "5 or 10 people" you care about most.

"Social networking sites are designed to reach thousands of people, Locket is about the few people that matter most to you," said Moss. 

From the 30 million registered users, nearly 2 billion photos have sent through Locket Widget to date. It recently added the option to include captions with photo uploads, while in-app messaging is arriving later this year. 

Waterllama — hydration tracking, but fun

Waterllama

(Image credit: Future)

There might be many water-tracking apps on the App Store, but perhaps none are making hydration as fun as Waterllama. Having recognized the benefits of drinking enough water, founder Vitalii Mogylevets wanted a way log liquid intake that felt approachable and rewarding.

Mogylevets said he hopes to promote habit-building in a way "that’s more interesting to do every single day." 

As you take on and complete challenges in Waterllama, you earn characters (who have impeccable fashion sense, we might add). Some challenges encourage you to cut out caffeine or lactose, while others are simply for staying on track with hydration. The best part? The more you log water in the app, the less you'll be notified thanks to a Smart Reminders feature. Plus, multiple widget configurations make it easy to check your daily status and log drinks right from your home screen.

GoodNotes 5 — the best way to take notes on iPad

GoodNotes 5

(Image credit: Future)

There are a number of great notetaking apps right now available for iPad, but GoodNotes 5 founder Steven Chan's story started back before there was an Apple Pencil. As a student, Chan saw a way for the original iPad to replace a notebook, but legible handwriting with a third-party stylus proved a challenge.

"When Apple Pencil launched in 2015, it was a turning point," said Chan. "Almost immediately after Apple Pencil was launched, I started hiring."

GoodNotes 5 saw massive growth during the pandemic, and says 1.6 billion notebooks were created in 2022. Standout features include the tools to customize notebook parameters, annotate uploaded paperwork and collaborate with others, and handwriting-to-text recognition. Coming soon, users will be also be able to turn notes into study cards and sync notes with audio recordings.  

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.