Apple’s Design Award is a sleek aluminum cube with a lit logo and no seams. It’s available nowhere else but Apple’s yearly developer conference WWDC.
It’s incredibly coveted and can mean an enormous amount of attention for an indie developer — or bigtime validation of a major company’s mobile strategy.
Apple rates the apps by a series of items including functionality, design and delight and comes up with a series of them to award each year. Last year, Yahoo was a big winner. This year featured some huge ups for young indie developers, as well as two student award winners.
Here were the awards:
For the first time ever, Apple awarded two student teams special ADAs. These were picked out of the students Apple offered scholarships to WWDC, a program expanded to 350 students this year.
Elementary Minute – a quiz app that helps students study. You swipe up or down for true or false questions on iPhone or Apple Watch. The app, created by Klemens Strasser of Austria was one of the first games to come out for Apple Watch.
Jump-O – An app created by Bytebrushers (university students from Brazil) based on their experiences being bullied as youths.
Shadowmatic – This game uses highly detailed 3D rendering techniques to combine a puzzler and a shadow play.
Metamorphobet – This Vectorpark creation animates letters into representations of words, making it a great kids learning app. Developer Patrick Smith makes up this one person studio.
Robinhood – The popular investment app we’ve covered many times on TechCrunch also won an ADA. The hook of Robinhood is that it allows you to buy and sell stocks quickly, and for free. Robinhood Markets was awarded the ADA for the app’s clean, content-centric design and balancing app branding with iOS design conventions. The clever way that Robinhood allows you to perform a simulated trade before signup was hailed.
Affinity Designer – This vector-based illustrator drew gasps of appreciation from the crowd for its many and varied illustration tools.
Crossy Road – This Hipster Whale game likely needs no introduction, it’s become a sensation of casual time-killer games. A variant of Frogger with clever animation and social features, it’s the rare in-app purchase-based game that I don’t mind playing.
Fantastical 2 – The popular calendar app by Flexibits was hailed for its slick Mac app design and deep use of localization features.
Workflow – We’ve covered DeskConnect’s Workflow here before at TechCrunch. Workflow was demonstrated by members of Apple’s accessibility team — these team members were visually impaired. They used VoiceOver to activate Workflow and create a new workflow in a fantastic demonstration of accessibility features in iOS.
Does Not Commute – This driving game by Mediocre, a 2-person team, is a strategy-based vehicular challenger.
Vainglory – Super Evil Megacorp is an all-star team of game designers that created a slick Moba that had previously gotten some screen time during an Apple keynote while demonstrating its uses of Metal.
Pacemaker – This music app is built by an 8-person company in Stockholm, Sweden. This app is an AI-driven DJ.