What would the holidays be for an Apple blog if the site managers didn’t insist on a countdown of the top iPhone apps? Sure, it’s a little derivative, but it’s also a lot of fun – and a great place to start for our readers who’ve just unwrapped shiny new iOS devices for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus. So without further ado, our top 10 apps of the year, split equally between free and paid:
Top Free iPhone Apps:
1. YouTube (Google, Inc.) – This amazing app that started out as a way to share funny or interesting personal videos has disproven the old song lyric that “the revolution will not be televised”. With a very few exceptions (explicit sexual or gory content), it’s possible to find just about anything on YouTube. Users have taken the “Broadcast yourself” tagline quite seriously, and the whole world is watching. This standalone app was added to the App Store in September after Apple dropped it from inclusion in the release of iOS 6.
2. Instagram (Burbn, Inc.) – This photoblogging/social networking app allows users to take their ordinary photos of, say, dinner with friends or family vacations and turn them into something approaching art with the use of free filters and borders. Make a digital image look like something that used to come out of a camera and had to be waved around in the air to be developed! Be a total hipster and publish all this stuff to your Facebook page or Tumblr or Flickr (but not Twitter anymore…) – and then pray that the developers don’t decide to snag your private photos for advertising!
3. Draw Something Free (OMGPOP, Inc.) – Remember Pictionary? It was like charades, only with markers and easels and big white paper pads…now imagine that Pictionary and Facebook had a baby and put it on every smartphone on the planet. That’s Draw Something. In fact, with the Facebook integration, the game went viral and had 50 million downloads within its first 50 days of release. The free version is ad-supported, but both versions have in-app purchasing of “coins” that can be used to buy more colors and “bombs” for eliminating incorrect letters in a guess or giving drawers new word sets.
4. Flashlight (iHandy Inc.) – Handy little app that does just what it says on the tin; it’s a flashlight that uses the iPhone’s LED camera flash to light the user’s way in the dark. It is ad-supported, and includes a compass as well as strobe mode and variable brightness. Also note that the strobe can be made to blink out SOS in Morse code.
5. Facebook (Facebook, Inc.) – Here it is, the 800-lb gorilla of social media – an app for the site that everybody loves to hate, but can never give up on… It’s been updated this year, to be faster and leaner and it really does seem to be getting better as time goes on (even though the developers seem to be bent on changing it all as soon as everybody gets used to one layout). Just about the only thing not available in the mobile app is the ability to play games, since the browser-based games are all dependent on Flash – and we all know what Steve thought about Flash!
Top Paid iPhone Apps:
1. Angry Birds Space (Rovio Ent. Ltd.) – The number 1 mobile game of all time returns for a fourth installment, and this time it takes the physics off land and literally into outer space. Each planet in the game has its own gravitational field, which all affect the birds that players can launch at the bad piggies. The game was debuted in March with a video presented by a NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station. The NASA connection continued in August with the release of the first 20 levels of the Red Planet pack, which coincided with the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars.
2. Draw Something (OMGPOP, Inc.) – This is the paid version of the app listed above in the top free iPhone apps, which means no ads in-app, as well as 2000 more words, 200 free coins and 5 free hints.
3. Camera+ (tap tap tap LLC) – In addition to being named one of the top iPhone apps of 2012, this is
the 10th most popular App Store app of all time. Camera+ functions as an alternative to the standard iOS camera app, adding basic and advanced editing tools (including special effects and lighting filters) and an image stabilizer. It also integrated sharing with Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter.
4. Where’s My Water? (Walt Disney) – This is a physics puzzler that involves water, pipes, cartoon alligators and rubber duckies. Players are required to fill Swampy the Alligator’s tub so that he can take a bath. In order to do that, they must dig through dirt and reroute the flowing water to Swampy’s tub. They also have to avoid obstacles such as algae, poison mud and toxic mud. It has the distinction of being the 25 billionth app downloaded from the app store, by a user in China, and won an “Apple Design Award” at the 2012 WWDC.
5. Angry Birds Star Wars (Rovio Ent. Ltd) – Released in November, this is the 5th game in the Angry Birds franchise. In this iteration, the birds have taken on the role of the Rebel Alliance in opposition to the Imperial force/Stormtrooper parts played by the Pigs. The birds and pigs have all taken on the identities of various Star Wars characters, including Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi. (Notable for his absence is Yoda…) The game begins on Tatooine, and also includes locations from the Star Wars universe such as Hoth and the Death Star.