Every year, Apple awards a series of apps its coveted Apple Design Award. These apps represent what Apple feels are the best qualities of the platform.
Among the big winners in these ADAs is Yahoo’s News Digest app. That marks the second win in so many years for Yahoo.
The awards themselves are a slick, aluminum cube without seams that has a glowing Apple logo on the side that lights up when you touch the cube’s sides. It’s very slick, and very Apple.
Apple uses a series of criteria including design, launch time, gameplay elements, use of frameworks and the latest hardware and software that Apple has released. It also looks at what it deems ‘a spark of brilliance’, which could include a clever implementation of a feature, for instance.
Prize winners receive just about every product Apple makes including a Mac Pro with a cinema display, an iMac, an iPhone, an iPad, a Macbook Air, Macbook Pro and an iPod touch.
Apple asked the 200 scholarship winners to stand up to be recognized, and then proceeded to deliver the awards beginning with student apps.
The first student winner was PanoPerfect, a photo app built by two students who formerly attended WWDC under scholarship and decided they wanted to build something.
The next winner is an iPad app called Addimal Adventure, an app that teaches single digit addition, and it’s built by grad students.
The next app is a platformer game called Leo’s fortune, built by a team of four developers and designers.
Day One, the daily journalling app from Bloom, gets the next award. This is a popular life logging app that lets you jot down the things you do every day and refer back to them over time. Though Day One is available on iPhone and iPad, Apple awarded the Mac edition.
Up next is super-minimal game Blek, which Apple praised for its simplicity and how it renders gestures as strokes on-screen. Praise was also levied on the app’s sound effects, which are cute.
Next up was Yahoo’s News Digest, which was introduced last year. This marks two years in a row that Yahoo has won an Apple Design Award, after its win for Yahoo Weather last year. There is some significance attached to this, as one of CEO Marisa Mayer’s primary goals at Yahoo was to acquire mobile talent to revamp the company’s app offerings on all platforms. Among Mayer’s moves was to bring in talent via hiring and acquisitions, as well as to unify mobile teams with the other engineers on Yahoo’s various apps in a ‘mobile first’ strategy. Another ADA win is a big kudo for Yahoo and Mayer’s strategy.
One of the cleverest and most fun games on iOS, Threes, was awarded next. The app, which has famously been cloned by 2048 and many others, features great character design and an addictive gameplay mode. Apple alluded to the clones of the app by saying that it had been ‘broadly imitated’.
Cinemagraph Pro was awarded next, also for its Mac app. It’s used to create animated gif files that take the place of videos.
Next is a hybrid book/game called Device 6, which Apple praises for the way that it blends the printed page and gameplay.
An app which we’ve covered here on TechCrunch, Storehouse, also snagged an ADA. The app lets you build stories on the iPad with both images and video — and features some of the better layout controls we’ve seen on the platform. Storehouse just raised $7M from SherpaVentures and others to build out a platform.
And next up was Sky Guide, a star map app with nice ambient music and a minimal interface.
And the final winner was Monument Valley from UsTwo, a fantastic, immersive game that offers a wonderful puzzle experience with great music and art. It’s a pretty fantastic app, worth checking out.
And that wraps up Apple’s ADA’s for the year — and its signaling for the kinds of apps it likes to see and will award with features and App Store love.