This story is part of Tech for a Better World, stories about the diverse teams creating products, apps and services to improve our lives and society.
Apple has unveiled its App Store Best of 2020 winners, the top apps and games chosen by editors each year. This year’s selections come with a theme: The apps and games that helped make life easier, healthier and more connected during a year unlike any other in recent history.
“This year, more than ever before, some of our most creative and connected moments happened in apps,” said Apple Fellow Phil Schiller. “Around the world, we saw remarkable efforts from so many developers, and these Best of 2020 winners are 15 outstanding examples of that innovation. From helping us stay fit and mindful, to keeping our children’s education on track, to helping fight hunger, their impact was meaningful to so many of us.”
Read more: Apple One subscription bundle: Here’s everything included and how to sign up today
The iPhone app of the year, Wakeout!, gives you 30-second bursts of movement and exercise tailored to your home, office, car or local park. Use everything from your pillows to pots and pans to outdoor benches to your desk to avoid being too sedentary now that many of us are spending more time at home. Search the library of more than 1,000 location-specific movements and filter by mood (energizing, relaxing, intense or fun) and by length. Wakeout! is free to download and try for one week, but after that you’ll need to subscribe for $5 a month or $35 a year. You can add up to five people to your subscription for no additional cost.
Discover the latest apps: Be the first to know about the hottest new apps with the CNET Apps Today newsletter.
Zoom was named Apple’s iPad app of the year, which comes as no surprise: The video chat platform grew from 10 million daily meeting participants in December to more than 300 million in April, and became one of the most popular ways to connect with friends, family and colleagues during the pandemic (check out our tips for using Zoom here).
Apple named Disney Plus the Apple TV app of the year, likely in part due to its catalog of family-friendly shows and movies, the addition of a GroupWatch feature, and, I have to imagine, giving us more Baby Yoda with season 2 of The Mandalorian.
The best games of the year chosen by Apple editors — Genshin Impact for iPhone, Legends of Runeterra for iPad, Disco Elysium for Mac, Dandara Trials of Fear for Apple TV and Sneaky Sasquatch for Apple Arcade — also reflect themes of virtual connection, learning and exploring new worlds.
Fantastical, the Mac app of the year, aims to make your life easier by syncing all of your calendars and notifications into one place. The Apple Watch app of the year, Endel, syncs with Apple Health to tailor soundscapes to the current state of your body and immediate environment, using factors like your heart rate and the local weather to give you a soothing sound.
Grandparents can use the Caribu app to video chat and read stories to their grandchildren.
Apple also gave five apps a Best of 2020 award for how they made a difference during this unusual year.
For grandparents and relatives who aren’t able to visit the children in their lives in person, Caribu is an interactive video chat app that lets you read books, play games and color together virtually to stay connected. Pokemon Go reinvented its popular outdoor gameplay with more at-home experiences, including a virtual GO Fest in July where millions of participants walked an average of 15 km (more than nine miles) each over the course of a weekend.
For students whose classrooms moved to their homes, the Explain Everything digital whiteboard app offered a cloud-based collaboration tool so groups of students could continue to work together remotely. The United Nations World Food Programme’s ShareTheMeal app made it easy for people to donate to provide food assistance during emergencies worldwide, with more than 87 million meals shared to date. And the Shine app for daily self-care launched a new section dedicated to the intersectionality of mental health and Black lives.
Most downloaded apps of 2020
Beyond the App Store editorial picks, Apple also released the most downloaded apps and games for iPhone and iPad, both free and paid.
Zoom was the top downloaded free app for both iPhone and iPad. It was followed by TikTok and Disney Plus for iPhone, and Disney Plus and YouTube for iPad.
The top paid iPhone apps were TouchRetouch, Procreate Pocket and Dark Sky Weather, while the top paid iPad apps were Procreate, GoodNotes and Notability.
Among Us was the most-downloaded free game for both iPhone and iPad, while Minecraft was the most-downloaded paid game for both devices.
Here are the full lists of the top 10 most downloaded free and paid apps and games for iPhone, iPad and Apple Arcade:
Top free iPhone apps
Zoom Cloud MeetingsTikTokDisney PlusYouTubeInstagramFacebookSnapchatMessengerGmailCash App
Top paid iPhone apps
TouchRetouchProcreate PocketDark Sky WeatherFacetuneHotSchedulesAutoSleep Track SleepThe Wonder WeeksSkyViewShadowrocketSky Guide
Top free iPhone games
Among UsCall of Duty: MobileRobloxSubway SurfersInk Inc. – Tattoo DrawingMagic Tiles 3: Piano GameBrain Test: Tricky PuzzlesBrain OutCoin MasterCube Surfer!
Top paid iPhone games
MinecraftPlague Inc.Heads Up!MonopolyBloons TD6Geometry DashNBA 2K20Grand Theft Auto: San AndreasThe Game of LifeTrue Skate
Top free iPad apps
Zoom Cloud MeetingsDisney PlusYouTubeNetflixGoogle ChromeTikTokAmazon Prime VideoGmailHuluGoogle Classroom
Top paid iPad apps
ProcreateGoodNotes 5NotabilityDuet DisplayTeach Your MonsterLumaFusionAffinity DesignerToca Hair Salon 3Toca Life: HospitalToca Kitchen 2
Top free iPad games
Among UsRobloxMagic Tiles 3: Piano GameInk Inc. – Tattoo DrawingCall of Duty: MobileSubway SurfersDancing Road: Color Ball Run!Tiles Hop – EDM RushMario Kart TourSave The Girl!
Top paid iPad games
MinecraftMonopolyBloons TD 6Plague Inc.Geometry DashThe Game of LifeFive Nights at Freddy’sHuman: Fall FlatStardew ValleyTerraria
Top Apple Arcade games
Sneaky SasquatchHot LavaSkate CitySonic RacingPac-Man Party RoyaleSpongeBob: Patty PursuitOceanhorn 2Crossy Road CastleWhat the Golf?Lego Brawls
For more, check out Google Play’s list of the best apps and games of 2020.
The iPhone 12 Mini is tough to crack