At the end of every year, we bring you the best of the best when it comes to apps and games. In the past, we’ve bombarded you with about 10 categories of our top favorites in different posts. This time, however, we decided to skim the top and really give you the cream of the crop.
Below, we present you with the top 10 apps and games that came out in 2015 based on content the editors of iDownloadBlog submitted and voted on. We have even included what we consider to be the number one app and number one game of 2015. If you don’t see your favorites this year, feel free to include them in the comments below.
The best app of 2015
Around here, the iDB editors get hundreds upon hundreds of emails every single day and getting through them all is no small feat. When Spark arrived in the App Store, we jumped at the chance to give it a try and then jumped for joy when we found out how good it is.
Spark features a unified inbox that categorizes your emails from all of your different accounts so you can quickly triage the ones that are most important and put a pin in ones that can be taken care of later.
It also has smart notifications, so you only get pinged when important emails come through. It has lots of other awesome features, like smart search and widgets. And, it’s compatible with Apple Watch, so you can take care of emails from your wrist with just a tap. Spark is available for free.
The best game of 2015
I may not like the cold chill of the snow, but I can’t deny that a winter wonderland looks beautiful. The guys over at Snowman really know how to make the snow look enticing. They also know how to make a game that keeps you coming back for more.
Some of us are downright addicted to the game. It is an endless runner at its core, but has a lot more under the hood than you might expect. Players race down aesthetically pleasing landscapes and tap to jump. For an added bonus, you can hold your finger while in the jump to perform sweet tricks.
Your downhill adventure offers other interesting tasks, like grinding village rooftops and rescuing llamas. If you get far enough along, you may even find yourself flying through the frosty air in a wingsuit. Alto’s Adventure is available for $2.99.
The runner-up apps
Earlier this year, the world of social networking was forever changed. The advent of live streaming one’s life has turned us into both narcissists and voyeurs. Twitter didn’t do it first, but it did it best. Now, you can watch your favorite Twitter users as they grocery shop, buy a new car, or kiss their pets. If you miss a Periscope, you have the ability to watch it in replay if the creator chooses. You can also send a Periscope in private so only that special someone will see what you are up to. This app is available for free.
It’s no secret that our favorite third-party Twitter client comes from Tapbots. It offers tons of great features, while still providing the full Twitter experience that we need. Yes, we pay for each and every new version as they come out and we aren’t ashamed of ourselves. With Tweetbot 4, you get universal support, landscape mode, better mute filter customization, third-party support for syncing services, content blocker support, and more. One of our favorite features is the statistics view. You know, because we like to know how much you are paying attention to us. And, it’s compatible with Apple Watch. This app is available for $4.99.
This year, Apple added its streaming music service to the Music app. While the idea isn’t exactly original, the addition of Apple Music has made things seamless for those of us with an iOS and OSX ecosystem in our household. With it, you can access your own library of tunes and listen to them on all of your iOS devices, on your Mac, and even on Apple TV. Plus, the radio stations, new music section, and curated playlists are great for discovering artists and bands you didn’t even know you would like. Storing content in iCloud makes it possible for you to access everything, anywhere without having to take up space on your mobile device, too. Apple Music is available inside the Music app for $9.99 per month for individual plans or $14.99 per month for family plans with a three-month free trial.
Music maker algoriddim makes, arguably, the best deejay player for iOS. This year, the company launched a brand new version, built exclusively for the iPad, and designed specifically with the iPad Pro in mind. You can access songs from your Music library, plus tracks from Spotify. It has dozens of deejay tools, like beat detection, cue points, and live sampling. Plus, if you have an iPad Pro, you get a handful of features that make your mixing life complete, like keyboard shortcuts, full HD video recording, iCloud syncing of premade performances, and more. This app is available for $19.99.
This app actually came out in 2014, but it was at the very end of the year, and we think it is so good, that we decided to make an exception to our 2015 list. With Duet Display, you can turn your iPhone or iPad into a second screen for your Mac or PC. It’s more than just a second screen though. It has no lag time when working with productivity programs. That’s because it doesn’t use a wireless connection. Instead, you must have your iOS device connected to your computer via Lightning cable. Simple and brilliant. This app is on sale for $9.99.
For the first time, this year cable channels started offering content à la carte. HBO was the first to bring such a service to iTunes. For $14.99 per month (with a one-month free trial) cord cutters can experience the joys of Game of Thrones, True Detective, Silicon Valley, and more new award-winning shows. Plus, older content from shows you’ve heard about but may not have had a chance to see without a cable subscription, like The Wire, The Sopranos, and Deadwood. If that’s not enough, HBO Now also provides hundreds of first-run movies like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Horrible Bosses 2, and The Maze Runner. New content is added regularly. The app can be downloaded for free.
There are hundreds of photo editing apps on the market. Check your “Photos” folder on your Home screen and you’ve probably got at least a half-dozen. Enlight has so many editing and filter tools that you could toss the rest of them in the garbage (or, at leas removing it from your device). You can crop, skew, and refit your picture, or rework it into a painting, sketch, or add effects. You can throw a filter on top for that Instagram look. There are dozens of options for decking out your image. You won’t even miss your old photo-editing app. This app is available for $3.99.
All of us at iDB have a wry sense of humor. That’s probably why we all love that cynical, human-hating virtual assistant, CARROT. This time, she’s got control of our weather. Although, she’d never admit that it is her fault that it rained the day after you washed your car. The more you use this app, the more secrets you will unlock. Even though it’s just a weather app (don’t let CARROT know I said that), it’s practically like a game. Plus, her insult-hurling hilarity puts a smile on our face, just before we throw our iPhones at the wall. She is compatible with Apple Watch, too. This app is available for $3.99.
There are a handful of features that Apple just didn’t think we’d want on our wrist worn device, but the developers of watch OS were just plain wrong. For example, there is no Voice Memo app. There isn’t even a way to control it on Apple Watch. Well, this app fixes that problem with an app that will record right from your wrist. It also has a Complication and Glances feature for quick access on Apple Watch. So, you can simply tap your wrist and start recording at a moment’s notice. All of your recordings are automatically saved in the cloud so you can access them from any device instantly. This app is available for $2.99.
The runner-up games
We may have all cheered when iOS drifted away from the skeuomorphic design, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a soft spot in our hearts for realistic looking graphics sometimes. Shadowmatic is a good, old-fashioned spatial reasoning puzzle game, but it has this look that makes you want to cry. Imagine a nursery that hasn’t had a child in it in decades, worn from weather and empty of life. As you put these puzzles back together, by rotating pieces until they match a shape, you’ll add some color back into this broken life. This game is available for $2.99.
Another puzzle game we love takes the realism a giant step forward by being made entirely of handcrafted materials. Sets were designed using paper, cards, miniature lights, and motors. Each scene was painstakingly detailed in scale model form before being rendered into the game. Check out the free Making Of Lumino City app to find out more. It doesn’t matter how good a game looks if it is terrible to play. Luckily, Lumino City is complex, intricate, and a great brainteaser. Players explore different areas of the city, seeking a lost grandfather and helping the town get back on their feet in the meantime. This game is available for $4.99.
When Apple Watch first landed on our wrists, we were clambering for content so we could push the wearable device to its limits. One of the first games to launch with Apple Watch compatibility was Lifeline… It stood out from the pack because of its simple, but effective mechanics. Players are contacted by an unknown person on the other end of a communication signal. It turns out he is stranded on a planet in outer space and is looking for some advice on how to survive. Your suggestions could mean life or death for the young protagonist, so think before you speak. The story plays out in hyper real time. Taylor will contact you when he needs help. If he is sleeping, or otherwise occupied, you just have to wait. This game is available for $0.99.
It may seem strange to go from a relaxing puzzle game like Shadowmatic or Lumino City into a crazy stressful workday commute, but this game has lots of awesome and fun features. Players must navigate from point A to point B in a variety of different cars. Each time you get behind the wheel, it is saved for the next run. So, if you are reckless, you may crash into yourself at a later point in time. The goal is to get everyone where they need to go within a certain amount of time. If you listen to each driver’s comments, you’ll realize that there is a lot going on in this automobile centric town. Don’t forget to change the radio station for even more hidden fun. This game is available for free.
This year, a number of excellent survival games found their way onto iOS. Don’t Starve is our favorite of the bunch. In this game, players must spend time building a shelter from meager materials while trying to avoid starving to death and going insane from the weirdness that surrounds them. Oh, and there are also killer bees, one-eyed deer, and overly protective spiders. The level of intricacy involved in Don’t Starve is so detailed that there is even a Wiki page dedicated to its content. If you aren’t running from vicious hounds, you are befriending Warepigs and trying to keep the shadows away in the dark. This game is available for $2.99.
We’ve loved everything that Fireproof Games has given us. First, we were literally locked in a room trying to get out. Then, we got to broaden our scope with a whole house. In this version, we are able to explore an entire island. The complex, multi-layered puzzles have gotten harder, but are still linear and make sense. The graphics have improved significantly, and you get a sense of larger things. While this game isn’t an open exploration mechanic, it provides more options for the player than its predecessors. However, it maintains the original vibe, so fans of the series won’t be let down by the changes. This game is available for $4.99.
While we were all waiting impatiently for the launch of Fallout 4 (which completely disrupted our lives, incidentally) Bethesda threw us a bone and gave us a funny little SIM style game to pass the time. In this game, players are tasked with taking care of Wasteland refugees while also trying to ensure they don’t slack off. Put your Dwellers to work in the Vault in order to maintain a useable level of power, water, and food. Grow your population by building a radio station to attract refugees, or ensure the survival of the Human Race by playing matchmaker with your Dwellers. The key to survival in this world is keeping your citizens happy while they work. This game is available for free.
What do you get when you mash up the puzzle styling of Hitman GO with the point-and-click adventure of Tomb Raider? You get Lara Croft GO. Players traverse a turn-based landscape of forests, caves, and cliff sides. Players control Lara in a very different manner in this version. Each move works like taking turns on a board game. Players must avoid traps and fight monsters, but in a very specific way. Find your way through ancient ruins by moving pillars, scaring off pythons, and seeking the lost treasure that Lara is always after. This game is on sale for $1.99.
The storytellers over at Telltale games dropped yet another hit on us this year. This time, they took on the most popular game on iOS for the past two years, Minecraft. This is not your daddy’s sandbox game. In fact, it isn’t a sandbox game at all. So, don’t go into it expecting to build houses and kill Creepers. Well, you might kill a Creeper or two, but only if it pops up in the story. In this choose-your-response adventure, players must find the Order of the Stone to help destroy evil creatures that were unleashed at EnderCon. If you like The Walking Dead: The Game, or A Game of Thrones by Telltale, then Minecraft Story Mode will make your day. This game is available for $4.99.
These 20 apps and games made a big splash in 2015 and some of them have even become our all-time favorites in their short time in the App Store. We know our small team can’t possibly test every single title that comes out. So, we’d love to hear what you think are the best of 2015 in the comments below.