Apple highlights some of the best (and most popular) apps of 2019

There are more surprises in here than you'd think.

As expected, Apple's event today wasn't about heralding any new hardware -- it was about shining some light on some of the year's standout apps. (If Android is more your thing, expect Google's own list of first-class apps to drop shortly, too.) Apple's selections this year run the gamut from artsy -- Spectre Camera helps people take long-exposure photos with their iPhones -- to practical fare like Affinity's desktop publishing app for the Mac. With that said, a few of the choices here are particularly interesting.

Sayonara Wild Hearts was easily the most stylish of Apple Arcade's first games, so its nod here feels well-warranted despite being a cross-platform title. And the same could be said for Hyper Light Drifter -- it's a little strange to see it take the crown for Best iPad game of the year when it debuted on PCs and Macs over three years ago. (Eva Gaspar, CEO of Abylight Studios, told Engadget they took on the project of adapting HLD for iOS after completing the Switch port last year.) Regardless, there are a handful of fascinating choices that even we hadn't heard of before, so be sure to check out the full list below.

iPhone App of the Year: Spectre Camera (Lux Optics)

iPad App of the Year: Flow by Moleskine (Moleskine)

Mac App of the Year: Affinity Publisher (Serif Labs)

Apple TV App of the Year: The Explorers (The Explorers Network)

iPhone Game of the Year: "Sky: Children of the Light" (thatgamecompany)

iPad Game of the Year: "Hyper Light Drifter" (Abylight S.L.)

Mac Game of the Year: "GRIS" (Devolver / Nomada Studio)

Apple TV Game of the Year: "Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap" (DotEmu)

Apple Arcade Game of the Year: "Sayonara Wild Hearts" (Simogo)

As usual, Apple also provided details on the year's most downloaded apps. You'd probably see many of these titles coming from miles away, but still -- it's interesting to see how certain apps, companies and platforms stack up over time. Take TikTok for instance: It's an unabashed phenomenon now, albeit one that's also causing concern in the upper echelons of multiple governments. This year, it was Apple's fourth most downloaded free iPhone app -- that's a pretty big jump from last year, where it placed 16th.) And while YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat continue to claim the first, second and third place crowns respectively, Bitmoji dropped out of the top ten entirely this year. Guess those custom clothes weren't enough to keep people hooked.

Here are the full lists:

Top Free iPhone Apps

  1. YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream

  2. Instagram

  3. Snapchat

  4. TikTok - Make Your Day

  5. Messenger

  6. Gmail - Email by Google

  7. Netflix

  8. Facebook

  9. Google Maps - Transit & Food

  10. Amazon - Shopping made easy

Top Paid iPhone Apps

  1. Facetune

  2. HotSchedules

  3. Dark Sky Weather

  4. The Wonder Weeks

  5. AutoSleep Tracker for Watch

  6. TouchRetouch

  7. Afterlight - Photo Editor

  8. Procreate Pocket

  9. Sky Guide

  10. Toca Hair Salon 3

Top Free iPad Apps

  1. YouTube: Watch, Listen, Stream

  2. Netflix

  3. Amazon Prime Video

  4. Google Chrome

  5. Hulu: Watch TV Shows & Movies

  6. Messenger

  7. Gmail - Email by Google

  8. Facebook

  9. TikTok - Make Your Day

  10. Calculator

Top Paid iPad Apps

  1. Procreate

  2. Notability

  3. GoodNotes 5

  4. Duet Display

  5. Toca Hair Salon 3

  6. Toca Life: Neighborhood

  7. XtraMath

  8. PDF Expert 7: PDF Editor

  9. LumaFusion

  10. Affinity Designer

Top Free iPhone Games

  1. Mario Kart Tour

  2. Color Bump 3D


  4. Call of Duty: Mobile

  5. BitLife - Life Simulator

  6. Polysphere - art of puzzle

  7. Wordscapes

  8. Fortnite

  9. Roller Splat!

  10. AMAZE!!

Top Paid iPhone Games

  1. Minecraft

  2. Heads Up!

  3. Plague Inc.

  4. Bloons TD 6

  5. Geometry Dash

  6. Rebel Inc.

  7. The Game of Life

  8. Stardew Valley

  9. Bloons TD 5

  10. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Top Free iPad Games

  1. Roblox


  3. 2

  4. Color Bump 3D

  5. Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game

  6. Fortnite

  7. Polysphere - art of puzzle

  8. Wordscapes

  9. Tiles Hop - EDM Rush

  10. Helix Jump

Top Paid iPad Games

  1. Minecraft

  2. Geometry Dash

  3. Bloons TD 6

  4. Plague Inc.

  5. Amazing Frog?

  6. Stardew Valley

  7. The Game of Life

  8. Heads Up!

  9. Terraria

  10. Bendy and the Ink Machine

This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.