One of the many announcements made at Google I/O in Mountain View last week or two was Google's list of the Best Apps of 2016. Obviously, the year isn't over but these are some of the best apps in Google's eyes. Some of the categories include Best Game, Most Innovative, and Best Use of Material Design.
Best Game of the Year: Clash Royale
The Best Game of the Year Award went to Clash Royale. We included this app in one of our Top 10 Apps of the Month videos. This is a Real-Time multiplayer game where you destroy enemy towers through spells and defenses. The goal is to simply knock the enemy King and Princesses from their towers to defeat your opponents and win trophies. What makes it different from other tower defense games is the involvement of cards. These cards range in their abilities of course. And as you progress in the game, you'll choose to collect and upgrade the cards to improve your skillsets. Last time I checked, this game had over 50 million downloads so it's clearly popular and popular for a reason.
Best Use of Material Design: Robinhood
Robinhood is a free stock trading app that made the list because of its use of Material Design. Just from swiping here on the app, you'll see that it's absolutely beautiful. When you swipe in from the left, the search bar morphs in from the upper right hand portion of the display in a neat ripple-like animation. All the stocks are featured in cards that can be swiped away from view just like in Google Now. You can even long press and rearrange each stock as you see fit. So I can definitely see why developers integrated so many Material Design elements in this app because it just makes you want to return to the app and use it to buy and sell more and more stocks.
Best Use of Google Play Game Services: Table Tennis Touch
The Best Use of Google Play Game Services goes to Table Tennis Touch. This is, hands down, one of the best table tennis games on the Play Store. The graphics are excellent. Its controls are intuitive and the gameplay is just fine. But what's even better is the multiplayer game modes which is why it won an award. So if you use Google Play Games to play games with your friends, you'll need to check out this game.
Standout Startup: Hopper
Hopper received the Standout Startup Award. We've also covered this app in the past, for those in iOS and Android. What the app does is that it helps you find the most affordable airline tickets to and from your destination of choice. The app not only presents its information in a user-friendly manner but also does so with Material Design. Best of all, the app has the potential to save you a lot of money and it's functional enough to do everything from watch airplane prices to buy airplane tickets straight from the app itself.
Standout Indie: Alphabear
Alphabear won the Standout Indie Award. It's a word puzzle game from the same developers that brought us Triple Town. How it works is that you spell words by selecting letters on a grid. When you use letters that are adjacent to each other, bears appear. The more letters you use, the bigger the bear gets and the more points you earn. It's a lot of fun if you love Words With Friends or Scrabble. I think you've got to give this game a shot.
Most Innovative: NYT VR
NYT VR (New York Times Virtual Reality) won the Most Innovative Award. It's innovative because it helps you experience news stories in ways we've never been able to experience them before. For example, I watched a story about Pluto and I was transported into the vastness of space with stars all around me. And that's just one example. You may be transported to underworld habitat or to someone's living room. What's neat is that if you don't have a VR headset like Google Cardboard, you can just select the smartphone option to experience the 360 content without a VR headset. It's not the most ideal setup but it means that the app can be experienced by just about everyone.
Go Global: Pokemon Shuffle Mobile
Pokemon Shuffle Mobile won the Go Global Award. It's a puzzle game where you solve puzzles to battle Pokemon. You line up three or more Pokemon vertically or horizontally to battle the game's wild Pokemon that you stumble across. The game is as casual as you make it as battling, collecting, leveling up your Pokemon can provide hours of gameplay.
Early Adopter: Work Around Me
Work Around Me won the Early Adopter Award. It's a bit hard to show you on video but essentially what it does is that it connects employees together just like an institutional campus creating a digital marketplace for on-site and off-site services. It's like a social media for your workplace. The app is very bare bones right now but I would keep an eye on it as the developers continue to add more and work buildings for you to select from.
Best Families App: Thinkrolls 2
Thinkrolls 2 won the Best Families App. It's a puzzle game for kids with ages between 3 and 9. The puzzles are for kids so don't expect them to be too hard. But if you have kids of your own between these ages, I think you should take a look at this app to see how your kids like it. And if you're a kid yourself and you're looking for a fun puzzle game, look no further than Thinkrolls 2.
Best App: Houzz
The winner of the Best App Award goes to Houzz, which I think is actually pronounced House. Houzz is an interior design app designed to give you everything you need to improve your home. The app offers over 10 million hi-res photos of home interiors and exteriors that you can browse by style, room and location. You can save them and share them. You can even connect with over 1 million home improvement professionals from architects to contractors to designers and more who can help make your dream home a reality. It's an interesting choice on Google's part for the Best App Award but for what it is, it certainly is a very capable application.
So with that last one, those are the 10 Best Apps of 2016 in Google's eyes. Do you agree with Google? If not, what app or apps would you recommend for each category?
You can find all of the winning apps right here. How do you like Google's selections?