2012 iMore readers choice awards

2012 iMore readers choice awards

The best iPhone and iPad hardware and software, news and events, apps and accessories of 2012 -- as chosen by you!

We asked you to tell us your favorite iOS devices, features, news, events, apps, games, and accessories. The only condition was that had to have happened, or been introduced or majorly updated in 2012. Nothing old. Only new. And you told us by the thousands. Now the votes are in. The polls are closed. The results have been tallied. Your favorites have been named. And right here, right now, they'll be revealed...

These are your 2012 iMore readers choice awards!

iOS device of the year: iPhone 5

Starting in March with the first Retina iPad, the iPad 3, and the first 1080p Apple TV, the Apple TV 3, moving on to September with the 16:9, 4-inch iPhone 5 and iPod touch 5, and capping things off in October with another iPad, the iPad 4, and an all-new device, the iPad mini, Apple released an unprecedented amount of new iOS devices in 2012.

The runner up, with almost 27% of the vote, is the iPad mini.

The winner, earning almost 57% of the vote, available in white and silver or black and slate, with a bigger screen yet thinner and lighter at the same time, and blisteringly fast LTE networking, is the iPhone 5.

iOS feature of the year: Siri

With iOS 6, Apple introduced Passbook and an all-new Maps app, enhanced Mail, Phone, and Safari, added Guided Access and better support for China, enabled Shared Photo Streams and let FaceTime loose on cellular, integrated Facebook, and brought and even more capable Siri to the iPad. And it's those last two that got your attention.

The runner up, with almost 23% of the vote, is Facebook integration.

The winner, earning almost 37% of the vote, is the iPad working, movie buffing, sports scoring, restaurant reserving, Siri.

Biggest story of the year: The iPad goes mini

Not only did Apple update almost their entire product lineup in 2012, and most of it over the course of a month in the fall, they also updated the products themselves in equally unprecedented fashion. The iPhone 5 and iPod touch got taller screens. The iPad got an iPad mini-varient. All of them ditched the old-school Dock for the all-new Lightning connector, and the almost all of them went 4G LTE. If that wasn't enough, Apple CEO Tim Cook also shook up Apple's upper-management. So what was your biggest story of the year?

The runner up, with almost 24% of the vote, is apple's management shake up.

The winner, with almost 33% of the vote, is Apple introducing the smaller, thinner, lighter, non-Retina but still ridiculously popular iPad mini.

Biggest failure of the year: Apple Maps

You can't have the sweet without the sour, the good without the bad. 2012 saw Apple struggle to keep their online services online, with repeated outages for iMessage, Siri, Game Center, and iCloud. Apple also remained mired in patent litigation, settling with HTC but still feuding across geographies with Samsung and [Motorola](http://ww. Unbelievably, even though Apple could push the iPhone 5 across the world at a lightning pace, they somehow couldn't manage to get Lightning adapters into stores to connect them. And while Siri reliability gave Apple headaches last year, iOS 6 Maps gave them a black eye this year. Yet Apple wasn't the only one with failures on their record -- Twitter screwed over the developers that brought them to the dance, Google's "don't be evil" got even more laughable than ever, and even Instagram started putting their interests before ours.

The runner up, with just over 9% of the vote, is Apple's failure to get Lightning adapters into stores at anything approaching a reasonable timeframe.

The winner loser, with almost 66% of the vote, is Apple's 3D Flyover, turn-by-turn, much maligned, still unreliable iOS 6 Maps.

Social app of the year: Facebook 5.0

In the beginning, developer Joe Hewitt made a great (for it's time) Facebook app for iPhone. It was, and remains, one of the most popular apps on the platform. Then Hewitt grew disenchanted with Apple's policies and left the project. Then the problems began. Facebook for iPhone became buggy and stayed buggy. It's website-in-a-thin-app-wrapper architecture became slow. It's throw-every-feature-in-the-sidebar layout became unwieldy. It's the-iPad-isn't-mobile soundbite rang hollow. And then something remarkable happened... Facebook woke up. They pushed support out to the iPad, and they rebuilt the iPhone app entirely, and natively. Facebook 5.0 might not be perfect, but it's lightyears ahead of where it was, and it finally looks like it's going in the right direction.

The runner up, with almost 25% of the vote, is Twitterrific 5.

The winner, with just over 60% of the vote, is the new, native, still unwieldy but now at least usable, almost enjoyable, Facebook 5.0.

iOS education app of the year: iTunes U

Free iTunes U app for iPhone

Unlike the massive, almost monstrous iTunes desktop app, Apple has always had separate apps for iOS: iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore. However, podcasts and iTunes U were originally shoved into the iTunes Store app. No longer. At the education event that added textbooks to iBooks, Apple also announced an all new, all separate iTunes U app.

The runner up, with just over 19% of the vote, is Khan's Academy.

The winner, with almost 65% of the vote, is the education packed iTunes U.

iOS music app of the year: Podcasts

Read all that about iTunes U? The same applies to Podcasts. Originally part of the iTunes Store app, Apple split Podcasts out in the late summer and gave it its own, dedicated app. Unlike iTunes U, Podcasts got off to a rocky, buggy start. Apple's been steadily improving it over the intervening months, and while it's still far from perfect, it's become very, very popular.

The runner up, with almost 24% of the vote, is Rdio 2.0.

The winner, with just over 42% of the vote, is Podcasts.

iOS photo app of the year: Instagram 3.0

Instagram realizes it needs to start making money, decides to do it with your photos and identity

It's been quite a year for Instagram, everyone's favorite social photo filtering and sharing network. They attracted a huge user base, diversified to Android, got acquired by Facebook for $1 billion, cut off support for Twitter cards, and then modified their terms of service to alienate a percentage of that huge user base. And through it all, they kept updating their app, adding new features and filters, altering and improving their user interface.

The runner up, with almost 40% of the vote, is [Camera+ 3.0](http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/camera?at=10l3Vy&ct=d_im /id329670577?mt=8&at=10l3Vy&ct=d_im)

The winner, with almost 52% of the vote, is Instagram 3.0

iOS productivity app of the year: Gmail 2.0

If there's any lesson to be learned this year, it's that giant social services companies giveth and taketh away. 2012 saw Google release their first really good set of native apps on iOS, and in general. They redesigned to be better looking and re-architected to be better working, and perhaps none more so than Gmail 2.0. It provides multiple account support, yet another implementation of the ubiquitous hamburger-button-and-basement-sidebar interface, and overall a very quick, very usable experience. Yet no sooner did it come out than Google announced they're abandoning ActiveSync for regular Gmail accounts, and won't be supporting any new connections on new devices. But, hey, Gmail 2.0!

The runner up, with over 16% of the vote, is Fantastical for iPhone.

The winner, with over 42% of the vote, is Gmail 2.0.

iOS reading app of the year: Pocket

In 2012 Read it Later re-invented itself as Pocket. While it's original name was incredibly informative, the new one was a stronger brand, and exemplified the service's new focus on more than just reading, especially video. Their focus on multiple platforms, including Android and Mac, let people who owned both iOS devices and non-iOS devices keep their content synced between them. Since then, Pocket hasn't slowed down. They've continued to announce updates, integrations, and partnerships, improving both their service and their experience.

The runner up, with over 25% of the vote, is the New York Times app.

The winner, with almost 30% of the vote, is Pocket.

iOS kids app of the year: Curious George at the Zoo

Free Curious George at the Zoo app for iPhone

Kids identify with what they know and like. That's the reason kids television is filled with beloved characters, some of which have stood the test of not only time, but of generations. And those same characters and franchises, the ones that transitioned from books to video, have now transitioned to multitouch, interactive devices as well. Including Curious George. In this particular case, the inquisitive little simian and his yellow-hatted friend are here to teach kids about animals. It works and it works engagingly and delightfully.

The runner up, with over 29% of the vote, is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Wildlife Count Along

The winner, with almost 33% of the vote, is Curious George at the Zoo

iOS action game of the year: Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour

Gameloft has made an incredibly successful business out of taking hugely popular console gaming genres and adapting them for mobile. Modern Combat 4 is their best effort yet, taking the first-person shooter (FPS) and modern military setting, and polishing it up for the iPhone and iPad. It's getting to the point where their only limitations are the multitouch format of the devices themselves. It's adrenalin armed and armored, and the only real question we have left is where can Gameloft take the Modern Combat series next?

The runner up, with over 17% of the vote, is Dead Trigger

The winner, with almost 33% of the vote, is Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour

iOS strategy game of the year: Angry Birds Star Wars

Angry Birds is one of the first successful multimedia, multimarket new franchises in years. They've been a sensation on the iPhone and iPad since launch, and the developer, Rovio, has made it a point to continuously add new levels, new characters, and new twists on the franchise. Over the course of the last year, the birds have even gone into space, and spun off their pigs into a game of their own. They also struck a deal with one of the biggest multimedia, multimarket franchises of the last few generations, and released Angry Birds Star Wars.

The runner up, with 29% of the vote, is Letterpress.

The winner, with almost 51% of the vote, is Angry Birds Star Wars.

iOS strategy game of the year: Fieldrunners 2

Turns out you can make a great thing greater. Fieldrunners was a hugely successful, incredibly entertaining tower-defense game for iOS. Fieldrunners 2 takes all of that and multiplies it. More enemies. More weapons. More power. More peril. We've lost a ton of sleep to Fieldrunners 2 this year, and we don't regret it one bit.

The runner up, with over 25%of the vote, is Hero Academy.

The winner, with almost 33% of the vote, is Fieldrunners 2

iPhone case of the year: Element Sector 5

I've always likened the high-end, aluminum bumper cases for the iPhone to hypercars like the Lamborghini Reventon or Aventador because that's precisely where they seem to draw their lines from. The Sector 5 case for the iPhone 5 by Element Case is certainly no exception. In fact, it continues just exactly that tradition from Element Case, bringing their trademark quality and corners to Apple's latest iPhone. Obviously you like it too.

The runner up, with 27% of the vote, is the LifeProof frē

The winner, with over 31% of the vote, is the Element Case Sector 5

iPad case of the year: Apple Smart Case for iPad

Smart Case for iPad review

Apple released the Smart Case at WWDC 2012. It was odd timing, three months after announcing the iPad 3 and 4 months before announcing the iPad 4. It was also an odd case. Bulkier, it seemed, than necessary, with a design that made the magnetic latches that worked so well with the Smart Cover not connect or stay in place anywhere nearly as well on the Smart Case. Yet it provided better protection, covering the back of the iPad as well as the screen. And despite our qualms, you loved it enough to name it your favorite.

The runner up, with 24% of the vote, is the Apple Smart Cover for the iPad mini.

The winner, with 34% of the vote, is the Apple Smart Case

Accessory of the year: Logitech Ultra-thin keyboard

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad is the sleekest, most sophisticated Bluetooth keyboard we've tested to date. It does add some bulk and some weight -- it is a keyboard, after all -- but given the Apple-esque aluminum shell and high quality plastic iterior and keys, it's remarkably svelte. Long before Microsoft made the Surface, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover made a generation of iPad users far, far more productive.

The runner up, with almost 30% of the votes, is the mophie power station duo.

The winner, with 42% of the vote, is the Logitech Ultra-thin keyboard

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

2012 iMore readers choice awards

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Thanks to everyone who voted! There was an amazing turn out.

Interesting to see how Apple and Google stuff led the voting, when they were in a category. People like the big name stuff?

I was not one of the ones who voted for the smartcase. No way can that product be the "ipad case of the year" yet people voted for it. It baffles the mind.

Suggestion for next year:
When a question has just a few possble answers (i.e. best device, etc) list all options like you did this year. BUT: when you have a potentially endless list of possibilities (i.e. best app) just leave a blank field for the user to enter their choice. By "highlighting" a few apps/choices, you effectively promote them and skew the results.

Re: Facebook - Yikes! This goes to show the power they seem to have over the populace. Release a slightly-less kludge-job of an app and the ability to easily sign your soul away (and which trick you into stealing all your contacts and giving them to all your 'friends'), and they win popular awards for that. Sigh.