Apple and Google recently revealed their top apps and games for the year. AllTrails snagged the title of Apple’s iPhone App of the Year in 2023, while Google Play crowned the educational app Imprint: Learn Visually as its best app. Both tech giants also selected Honkai: Star Rail as the Game of the Year.
These annual rankings not only spotlight new apps and games but also provide insights into the app marketplaces and the platforms’ preferences, as well as consumer trends throughout the year.
Apple’s selections diverged from the usual pattern of highlighting new or technologically innovative apps. The finalists for iPhone app of the year included well-deserving and well-designed apps such as Duolingo, Flighty, and the eventual winner, AllTrails.
However, this year’s selection differs from previous years which featured breakout hits like BeReal and Toca Life World.
Both Apple and Google did not crown an AI app as the app of the year, despite the phenomenal success of ChatGPT and other AI apps. This decision is especially unexpected considering ChatGPT’s rapid attainment of 100 million users shortly after launch, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history. Furthermore, numerous AI apps are generating substantial revenue, making the oversight of this category a deliberate choice.
Additional App Store winners include Prêt-à-Makeup as iPad App of the Year, Photomator as Mac App of the Year, MUBI as Apple TV App of the Year, SmartGym as Apple Watch App of the Year, Honkai: Star Rail as iPhone Game of the Year, Lost in Play as iPad Game of the Year, Lies of P as Mac Game of the Year, and Hello Kitty Island Adventure as Apple Arcade Game of the Year.
Apple CEO Tim Cook commented, “It’s inspiring to see the ways developers continue to build incredible apps and games that are redefining the world around us. This year’s winners represent the limitless potential of developers to bring their visions to life, creating apps and games with remarkable ingenuity, exceptional quality, and purpose-driven missions.”
Apple also omitted an AI app from its Cultural Impact winners, despite the significant influence of AI on culture. Instead, Apple’s cultural winners included Pok Pok, Proloquo, Too Good To Go, Unpacking, and Finding Hannah.
To acknowledge the influence of AI, Apple highlighted generative AI as the “Trend of the Year” and presented a collection of generative AI apps that exemplified this trend.
Google focused on “multi-device” apps as part of its “best of” apps this year, emphasizing its efforts to make non-smartphone apps more accessible. It honored Spotify as its top multi-device app, in addition to other winners.
The best multi-device game was OUTERPLANE – Strategy Anime, a turned-based strategy game available on the Google Play Store. Google also announced the User’s Choice App of the Year, which was ChatGPT, and the User’s Choice Game of the Year, which was Monopoly Go! Additionally, Google highlighted several other apps for various categories, such as Bumble for Friends: Meet IRL for Best App for Fun, Voidpet Garden: Mental Health for Best for Personal Growth, and Artifact: Feed Your Curiosity for Best Everyday Essential.
Unlike Apple, which has been in a feud with Meta, Google featured Meta’s WhatsApp in its winners’ list. It also acknowledged the AI-powered Artifact app, created by Instagram’s co-founders. While it didn’t select an AI app as the overall winner, Google did create an AI category, which was won by the Character AI app built by former Google researchers. Google also recognized Honorable Mentions for apps that didn’t win their specific category, including Reelsy Reel Maker Video Editor, Imprint: Learn Visually, ReciMe: Easy & Tasty Recipes, Stippl: Explore, Plan & Share, and ChatGPT.LEGO DUPLO DISNEY, AllTrails: Hike, Bike & Run (also Apple’s iPhone app of the year), Audible: Audio Entertainment, Canva: Design, Photo & Video, Everand: Ebooks and audiobooks, Evernote – Note Organizer, Wideo, Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll, Disney+, Tubi: Movies & Live TV, Beach Buggy Racing, and Spotify (which won Best multi-device app but was an honorable mention for Best for Cars.)
Best games included Best Multiplayer Game Farlight 84, Best Pick Up & Play: MONOPOLY GO!, Best Indie Vampire Survivors, Best Story Honkai: Star Rail, Best Ongoing Stumble Guys, Best Games for Good: Pokémon Sleep, Best on Play Pass Magic Rampage, Best for Tablets Honkai: Star Rail, Best for Chromebooks Minecraft, and Best for Google Play Games on PC Arknights. Honorable mentions for games were also included (seen here on Google’s blog alongside books of the year.)