CNN —  

Apps and services have become more essential to our daily lives than ever in 2020, and that’s immediately evident in Apple’s App Store Best of 2020 winners. From video conferencing software that helped us stay connected and productive to streaming services and immersive games that provided a much-needed escape, Apple has handpicked 15 apps on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and Mac that made life just a little bit better this year.

Better yet, you can try all of these great apps and games right now on your Apple device of choice, and many of them are free to start. So if you’re looking for a new way to stay in touch with friends and colleagues, keep yourself entertained at home or help yourself or others, here are Apple’s picks for the best App Store apps of 2020.

Apps of the year

As expected, Zoom is getting a top honor as the iPad app of the year. It went beyond just a workplace tool and became a way for us to stay connected. People hosted weddings on Zoom, connected with family and even hung out with friends. Who can forget the craze of fun custom backgrounds?

Fantastical, a popular calendar application that adds in a hint of AI magic, got the top honor on Mac. We had the chance to briefly speak with Michael Simmons of Flexibits, the company behind Fantastical, and he noted that when Covid-19 hit, the team had to rethink the road map. Neat features like the ability for Fantastical to create video meetings with just one button were born out of this. Fantastical is available on the Mac, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.

Also expectedly was Disney+ getting the Apple TV app of the year. We think two words sum it up: The Mandalorian. But the app was also ready to go on day one and has performed quite well, taking advantage of the Apple-made chip inside of Apple’s streaming box.

Games of the year

Who knew a game about playing as a Sasquatch would be the escape we all needed in 2020? Sneaky Sasquatch was awarded the best game on the growing Apple Arcade service, thanks to its quirky stealth-adventure gameplay that lets you do everything from play golf to steal human food as a lovable hairy giant. Dandara Trials of Fear showed off the power of Apple TV gaming, thanks to its vibrant, pixelated art style, while Genshin Impact emerged as the top iPhone game of the year due to an addicting action role-playing formula that took the whole world by storm.

Trend of the year

Additionally, Apple is also calling out five apps that fit within its trend of the year: helpfulness. Shine, Explain Everything, Caribu, ShareTheMeal and Pokèmon Go make up the group of five.

Shine is a meditation app that creates an engaging experience through a chat function to log how you’re feeling. It can also respond with the right meditation, with new tracks being recorded daily. In the world of whiteboards, Explain Everything has charted its own unique path with an app. It’s a digital whiteboard that allows for real-time collaboration or viewing, integration with video meeting services and the ability to record. It’s used in workplaces and by teachers around the globe.

  • App Trend of the Year: Shine for helping users practice self-care
  • App Trend of the Year: Explain Everything Whiteboard for helping bring remote classrooms to life
  • App Trend of the Year: Caribu for connecting families to loved ones
  • App Trend of the Year: Pokémon Go for reinventing the way we play
  • App Trend of the Year: ShareTheMeal for helping users make a difference

Let’s recap

Fifteen apps in total are walking away with the best of the year tag line, and the developers are walking away with a pretty epic award: a physical App Store icon crafted from 6,000 Series aluminum (yes, the same material Apple uses in its hardware) and created by Apple’s design team. It looks pretty snazzy.

The winning apps can help you relax after a long day, take a load off with some fun games and, dare we say, create an engaging meeting. Apps, as they always have, let you get more out of your devices and get stuff done.

Better yet, you don’t have to wait to try any of these apps, as they’re available in the App Store on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV right now.