As 2012 comes to a close, it only seems right that there be some kind of awards ceremony for my favourite apps that I’ve been using in 2012. It’s also helpful for people who have just got an iPhone or an iPad for Christmas! With over 1,000,000 apps on the App Store at the moment, it can be confusing and hard to find the best apps in each category. I always get asked what my favourite apps are, so here they are for all to see.
Best Social Networking App of the Year – Tumblr
This was a hard one to give as there are so many third-party apps for every social networking site, but this year it seems that Tumblr have really cracked down on their mobile apps and have made something that’s intuitive and easy to use.
The gestures on the iPhone version are extremely helpful. For anyone that didn’t realise there were gesture shortcuts on the Tumblr app, here they are;
- Tap and hold the new post button and swipe up to access the camera
- Tap and hold the new post button and swipe left to access a new text post
- Drag left and right of gifs to speed them up and slow them down
One thing that was always missing from the Tumblr app was a native iPad version – that all changed with its update on the 19th December which integrated its own native iPad app – a Christmas present from all at Tumblr if you will. The app is speedy and does almost everything that you can do on the Tumblr website, and even has an added extra that I want to see integrated onto the main site – a notifications page. Either way, Tumblr is definitely my favourite Social Networking app of the Year and you can grab it here for free.
Best Twitter App of the Year – Tweetbot
I felt that Twitter apps had to have their own category – there are so many that have different styles and approaches on how to use Twitter. You have some that are more focused on design and simplicity like Flurry, whereas you have others that are for the power users with more features than I have fingers and toes, such as Tweetbot. Tweetbot is definitely my favourite third-party Twitter app, and that’s who’s getting the award.
Their unique take on design, gesture input and sound effects is a breath of fresh air compared to the official Twitter app and it’s an app that other Twitter apps have based their own on. It’s customisable and has push notifications, which is a lot to ask for from a third-party Twitter app. Swipe gestures make this app such a pleasure to use;
- Swipe left for tweet detail
- Swipe right to view conversation and replies
- Customisable triple tap to reply to a tweet
- Single tap to open up more options
All those factors and the fact that you can stream your tweets when on WiFi makes this the perfect Twitter app for any avid Twitter user, and I’d definitely recommend it. The iPhone and iPad versions are separate and both cost £1.99 each, but they’re definitely worth the money. Still not sold? Tweetbot displays Instagram photos in the timeline, a feature that has recently been revoked on the official Twitter app by Instagram! You can grab the iPhone version here and iPad version here.
Free Platform Game of the Year – Extreme Road Trip 2
Platform games are my favourite kind of game for the iPhone and iPad – something that’s so simple to play but takes a lot of skill to master (much like Temple Run, remember that phase eh?). There have been a few platform games that have stuck out to me this year, both free and paid but Extreme Road Trip 2 is definitely my favourite.
The aim of the game? Get as far as possible in your car without crashing it. You can do flips in the air and collect coins as you go, and can compete against “ghosts” of your friends cars if you’ve got it hooked up to your Game Centre account. There are missions to complete and a myriad of cars to unlock and upgrade, and the challenges get harder as you go along. You can collect coins as you go or you can buy them via in app purchases if you get really stuck (it’s a free app, they’ve got to get their income somewhere!). The developers are constantly releasing new versions of the game with new vehicles and backdrops so you’ll never get bored with it. Best of all? It syncs with iCloud, so all your progress is synced between your iOS devices! It’s available for both iPhone and iPad, and you can grab it by clicking here.
Paid Platform Game of the Year – Ski Safari
For the best paid platform game of 2012 I’ve had to go with Ski Safari. I’ve personally spent hours on this game and I know my friends have too, as we try to beat each others high scores!
Where do I even start with Ski Safari? It has missions for each game which unlock various rewards – be it better multipliers or better starting animals/vehicles. You go through the levels collecting coins that you can use to buy various upgrades and new levels to play on – all with unique features, such as the recently added one for Christmas with snowmen that cause you to turn into a giant snowball and your own reindeer that you can ride on a sleigh. The avalanche chasing you and the different qualities of each animal/vehicle make this game exciting to play and extremely addictive.
It’s for both the iPhone and the iPad and you only pay for 1 app. It also syncs using iCloud so your scores and various unlocks are available on all of your iOS devices. All this excitement and entertainment will only set you back £0.69 and you can get it here.
Exercise App of the Year – RunKeeper
For all those that enjoy exercise or those that are doing it to get in shape, RunKeeper is definitely for you. It’s your own personal trainer in your pocket, and has been a favourite on my phone since I first got my 3Gs when OS3 was out.
Since its initial release, it’s improved leaps and bounds in terms of reliability and features. You can tailor each workout as it has a lot of different preset modes on it such as Running, Jogging, Swimming and Cycling. You can also tailor the voice of your “personal trainer” and have a man or a woman who gives you updates on distance, speed and calories burnt. It also geotags your workout too, so you can see exactly where you’ve been jogging/cycling and you can also access your account online to see past sessions and various stats. You can also give your friends a link to watch your progress live on a workout via a website if that helps to motivate you.
One of the newer features that it’s implemented is the most interesting of all. You get paid to work out. You set yourself a goal of x amount of sessions per week or x distance per week and if you fulfil this goal then you get paid. What happens if you don’t? You get charged by the app. If that’s not motivation for you then I don’t know what is! UI wise, the app is very easy to use and has various different views depending on the rotation of the iPhone and the activity you’re doing. With all these features and more, I’d definitely recommend RunKeeper for anyone. “All those features must cost though?” I hear you scream. Oh no, you’re wrong. It’s free and you can download it here.
Upcoming App of the Year – Instagram
This time last year Instagram was a privately owned company with no real income and an iOS only fan base. Fast forward a year and it’s now owned by Facebook and is open to Android users – not too bad for a free app, eh?
Instagram allows you to take photos that you can share both on the app and on other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. You get your own personal feed of photos from people who you follow, and also a Popular page which shows you the most liked photos on Instagram over a certain period of time. When using Instagram, you can add various filters to the photos to make them look more interesting (and let’s be honest, make your boring food photos look a bit better).
With its recent release of a web-based version of Instagram where you can view a person’s profile and their photos, Instagram has an interesting future. Will they make the photos 4:3? Will they include videos? Will there be a fully web-based version? Only time will tell, but what I do know is, is that Instagram is a fun app to have and combines both photography and social networking. My only real problem is that there is no native iPad version of Instagram, so iPad users are stuck using a pixellated blown up iPhone version. But maybe that’ll all change in 2013! You can grab it for free here, and takes seconds to sign up to!