2012 iMore editors choice awards
iMore honors the very best iOS devices and features, news and events, apps and accessories of 2012
They're what change the way you have fun and get things done. What make you replace what's in your pocket, in your lap, on your Home screen, in your workflow, and on your mind. What challenges your preconceptions, has you instantly forget what came before, and make it impossible to imagine how you'd do without them. They're the devices, events, apps, and games that affected us the most, and they're our 2012 editors choice award winners.
Device of the year: iPhone 5
The iPhone 5 was rebuilt from casing to processor. With an all-new, aluminum unibody, a 4-inch in-cell display, international LTE, and Apple's first custom designed system-on-a-chip, the Apple A6, it's not only the best phone of 2012, it's the best phone ever made.
Story of the year: Tim Cook's Apple
Some years it's one single event, one person, one thing, that stands out from all the rest. Other years it's an overarching theme that ties many disparate threads together, and that what stands out. This year is one of those years. From stock price to hirings and firings, from an unprecedented amount of new products to huge black eye from new mapping data, from winning billions from Samsung in the U.S. to losing dignity from the courts in the U.K, it's Apple in its first year under Tim Cook that's our story of 2012.
- Tim Cook's Apple
- The normalization of Apple
- The past, present, and future of Apple
- Tim Cook writes open letter to customers concerning iOS 6 Maps
Failure of the year: Apple online services
It would be easy to point the finger at iOS 6 Maps as being the single biggest point of failure for Apple this year. But they're merely a symptom of a much larger problem -- Apple's online services. Unlike Apple's hardware and software, which have been relentlessly improved over the years, there's little outward evidence that their services architecture has received anywhere near the same level of attention. Indeed, repeated Siri, iMessage, Game Center, and iCloud failures suggest the opposite. As Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and other competitors continue to roll out more and better cloud features, moving to a modern, extensible, scalable online system is increasingly critical for Apple.
- The future of Siri and Apple's services
- No skin in the Game Center
- Why iOS 6 is more about Apple than new user features
iPhone social app of the year: Twitterrific 5
Twitterrific predates the App Store, and has gone through several major revisions over the years, re-inventing itself several times. Twitterrific 5 is no exception. With a modern design as blacked-out as the iPhone 5, delightful Ollie-to-refresh animation, and shocking speed, renewed focus on core features, and remarkable perseverance in the face of Twitter's growing client-app hostility, Twitterrific 5 and the Iconfactory showed that even the oldest of birds can learn new tricks.
- Twitterrific 5 review
- Iterate 35: Gedeon Maheux, David Lanham and Twitterrific 5
- $2.99 on sale - Download now
iPad social app of the year: Tweetglass
Tweetglass, née Quip, is a decidedly conversational twist on on the Twitter timeline. It shows the advantage Twitter gains by exposing an API for developers to build just exactly these kinds of speciality clients, something you don't see with Facebook or Google+ apps. Or at least it did, since Twitter is now intent on ending just exactly these kinds of speciality clients. We'll likely see innovation move to app.net, but sadly not at the same scale, at least not for a long while.
iPhone utility of the year: Launch Center Pro
"Launch actions not apps" is what App Cubby's Launch Center Pro promises and -- within the confines of Apple's no-intents, no-contracts, no-nothing-but-URL-schemes restrictions -- is exactly what it delivers. With a tap, Launch Center Pro not only allows you to get to your most-used apps, but to specific things within those apps, like new events or messages. Coordinating all the URL schemes with other developers can't have been easy, but from concept to execution, especially after Apple pulled URL schemes from Settings, Launch Center Pro makes it feel easy. Launch Center Pro has made its way onto many a geek Dock this year, and deservedly so.
iPad utility of the year: 1Password 4
As good as 1Password is for keeping all your secrets accessible and secure on your iPhone, as tablets take over more and more of our casual computing time, it's become just as important on the iPad. And since the new version, 1Password 4, is a universal app, and supports seamless integration with Dropbox and iCloud, the whole is now even better than the sum of the parts. With a new, simplified design, support for favorites and folders, and a fully-featured, tabbed browser, 1Password has become all but indispensable.
iPhone productivity app of the year: Fantastical for iPhone
If you need evidence that Apple execs don't keep their own schedules, simply launch a built-in Calendar app and the case is closed. Rather than simply bemoan that fact, however, Flexibits chose to reverse-Sherlock Apple and release Fantastical. With natural language input and slick, bi-directional scrolling for lookup, Fantastical lets you get your events and appointments into, and out of, your iPhone calendar more quickly and easily than ever before.
iPad productivity app of the year: Diet Coda
Panic's Coda is a powerhouse on the Mac, combining code editing, preview, FTP, and more into one, integrated, web development app. Diet Coda is a brilliant distillation that, through tough choices, brings as much of that functionality to the iPad as possible. You probably won't be able to create your web presence on Diet Coda, but for quick fingered bug fixes on-the-go, or for Bluetooth keyboard-power code sprints on the road, Diet Coda is damn near perfect.
Reading app of the year: The Magazine
Surprise, surprise. It took an indie iOS developer -- albeit it a brilliant one in Marco Arment -- to show traditional media companies how to make a great Newsstand app. A universal app, it supports both iPhone and iPad, and unlike many of those traditional apps, The Magazine actually works just as well, if not better, on the go and on the smaller screen. With a fortnightly release schedule, highly efficient format, elegant design, and beyond professional content, The Magazine serves as a blueprint for digital authenticity and modern publishing alike.
Education app of the year: Wonders of the Universe
Wonders of the universe is a phenomenal educational tool that has the perfect mix of video, images, text, and hands-on interaction. On the surface you have Professor Brian Cox -- a particle physicist, Royal Society research fellow, and professor at the University of Manchester -- taking you on a guided tour of the cosmos. Beneath the surface you have some incredibly clever coding and an amazing presentation engine that makes you feel like you're gliding across space, staring across the stars.
- Hold the Solar System in your hands with Brian Cox's Wonders of the Universe for iPad
- $5.99 - Download now
Music app of the year: Figure
Not quite a musical instrument and not quite a toy, Propellerhead Software's Figure occupies a magical sweet spot in-between. Experienced musicians will appreciate the relative depth of options, but anyone can pick up Figure and create something listenable in minutes. With its gorgeous UI, abstracted away from the skeuomorphic knobs and dials that plague so many iOS music apps, Propellerhead seems to have a vision for the future of music that begins with empowering and encouraging everyone to create.
- $0.99 - Download now
Photography app of the year: Camera+
Camera+ has always been an exceptional photography app, but with this year's release of Camera+ 3, it got even better. With an improved interface, focus and exposure locks, improved sharing, improved performance, and much more, Camera+ helps you become the awesome mobile photographer you're meant to be. And if you use both an iPhone and iPad, you photos will sync between your devices over iCloud so that you can take your photos on your iPhone then edit on your iPad. Camera+ is how iOS photography was meant to be done.
Kids app of the year: Little Fox Music Box
Little Fox Music Box is a interactive music and sing-along app for kids that includes three songs: London Bridge, Evening Song, and Old Mac Donald. With each song, there is a scene that's related to the theme of the song. Each of these scenes is filled with artwork and animations that your child can interact with. There are very little things on the screen that don't react to touch making Little Fox Music Box a toddler's dream app. It's also great for parents to interact with their child at the same time by identifying objects and animals and prompting their child to tap specific things.
Puzzle game of the year: Letterpress
Providing proof positive that talented indie devs can code circles around even the biggest, best software houses on the planet, Loren Brichter's Letterpress instantly made every other word game on every platform look outdated and inelegant by comparison. From it's clean, crisp look and delightful animations, to it's simple, engaging audio, to its Game Center-toppling friend-vs-friend gaming dynamic, Letterpress is perfect from pixel to bit.
Action game of the year: Dead Trigger
Dead Trigger, as run-and-gun zombie-genre first person shooters go, is unabashedly cheesy, chock-full of snappy one-liners, and over-the-top non-player characters. The graphics are the real showstopper though - you will be hard-pressed to find more disgusting walking dead anywhere else on a phone or tablet. The graphics are awesome. Lighting is rich and dynamic, 3D models are stunning, and there are plenty of graphical effects like water droplets complete with visual distortion, lens flare, and fog. It's the kind of game you show off almost as much as you play.
RPG of the year: Battleloot Adventure
While the classic RPG mechanics are a familiar sight, there are a few real-time twists on the turn-based combat that keeps players on their toes. The cardboard cutout art style is definitive and unique - the big bobble-heads, as goofy as they are, really grow on you. Between weapons, armor, equipment, talent, and hero selection, the amount of customization is absolutely great. All in all, Battleloot Adventures provides a fine mix of old mechanics and new twists; lighthearted art style and deep gameplay.
- Battleloot Adventure for iPhone and iPad review
- $0.99 - iPhone - Download for iPhone
- $0.99 - iPad - Download for iPad
Racing game of the year: Super Hexagon
Super Hexagon is an intense and obscenely difficult abstract puzzle game with an awesome 8-bit soundtrack. By tapping and holding left and right sides of the screen, you move a small triangle around a stationary hexagon to avoid getting squished by lines and shapes that drift inwards. Sounds easy right? Well, the speed, randomness, and continually shifting colors, perspectives, and shapes may give you more than you bargained for.
- $0.99 - Download Now
Strategy game of the year: Devil's Attorney
Devil's Attorney revolves around a skeezy lawyer in the '70s called Max McMann. With twists logic and befuddling charisma, he dismantles lawsuits against shady characters, earns a profit, and decks out his apartment in the gaudiest things you could imagine. The game has a cartoony, colorful art style, and excellent voice acting that fully conveys McMann's sleaze and depravity. The game mechanics are also solid. Every round in the court room, action points are spent on abilities like "Reverse Psychology" to reduce the credibility of evidence, lawyers, and witnesses. Home decor enhances materialism, decadence and vanity scores to unlock new abilities.
- $2.99 - Download Now
Readers choice awards
How did your picks vary from ours? Check out iMore's 2012 readers choice awards and find out!
Leanna Lofte, Simon Sage, and Dave Wiskus contributed picks and write-ups for this article.