Apple announces its finalists for the App Store Awards 2023 — here's the shortlist

Apple App Store logo
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has announced the shortlist for its App Store Award finalists, revealing three apps in each of the ten categories that have been recognized for their impact on Apple’s eco-system.

For those unaware, the App Store Awards originally began way back in 2012 as a ‘Best of the App Store’ list in the iTunes Store. Since then, due to the great apps that have been released for Apple TV, Apple Watch, and more, the Awards have expanded to include apps from all of these products.

“These finalists are all incredibly talented and have put enormous effort into creating these great apps and games,” said Phil Schiller, Apple Fellow. “We are inspired by their accomplishments and look forward to announcing the winners of the App Store Awards later this month.”

The awards also show how ‘of the moment’ some apps have been in recent years. Social media app BeReal was the iPhone app of the year in 2022. Since April this year, however, its usage has nosedived, allegedly due to the further rise of TikTok and Snapchat with Gen Z users.

Duolingo, Flighty, and AllTrails are now competing for the ‘iPhone App of the Year' award this year, and are much more useful and evergreen in what they offer. As such, it’s more likely that these apps will stay popular for years to come, compared to where BeReal has ended up.

Below is the list of what’s made the shortlist for this year, some of which already feature in our best of iPhone apps list.

Who are the finalists?

Honkai Star Rail screenshot

(Image credit: Tammy Rogers/ iMore)

iPhone App of the Year

  • AllTrails - "Whether you hike, bike, run, or walk, AllTrails is your companion and guide to the outdoors."
  • Duolingo - "Learn a new language with the world’s most downloaded education app!"
  • Flighty - "A fast flight tracker for delays, alerts, and incoming arrivals."

iPhone Game of the Year

  • Afterplace - "An open-world adventure game filled with silly characters and terrible secrets."
  • Honkai: Star Rail - "Hop aboard the Astral Express and experience the galaxy's infinite wonders filled with adventure and thrills in this vast RPG."
  • Vampire Survivors - "The supernatural indie phenomenon that lets you be the bullet hell has arrived on mobile!"

iPad App of the Year

  • Concepts - "Think, plan & create – Concepts is a flexible vector-based sketchbook where you can take your ideas from concept to reality."
  • DaVinci Resolve - "This is the world’s only solution that combines editing and color correction in one software tool."
  • Prêt-à-Makeup - "Prêt-à-Makeup is a digital face chart notepad with unlimited pages and all the tools you need to create beautiful and realistic looks, all on your device."

iPad Game of the Year

  • Eggy Party - "You and your Eggy Friends break through absurd obstacles and experience the journey on Eggy Island!"
  • Lost in Play - "Help a brother and sister on an uplifting epic adventure to find their way home. Solving puzzles, escaping a horned beast, and meeting quirky goblins are just part of the journey!"
  • Pocket City 2 - "Create using roads, zones, landmarks, and special buildings. Drop your avatar into the world and roam freely. Buy your own house, host events, survive disasters, and live the life of a successful mayor!"

Mac App of the Year

  • Linearity Curve - "Whether you’re creating engaging social media posts, captivating brand visuals, print materials, or intricate lettering and marketing illustrations, Linearity Curves provides all you need to bring your stories to life."
  • Photomator - "Photomator is a photo editing powerhouse, offering incredible tools for enhancing, retouching, and managing your photos."
  • Portal - "Portal is a productivity app that uses immersive technologies to transform your surroundings into a haven for focus and creativity."

Mac Game of the Year

  • ELEX II - "ELEX II returns to the post-apocalyptic Science Fantasy world of Magalan – with massive environments that can be explored with unrivaled freedom via jetpack, you will be able to move through the epic story any way you want."
  • Lies of P - "You are a puppet created by Geppetto who’s caught in a web of lies with unimaginable monsters and untrustworthy figures standing between you and the events that have befallen the world of Lies of P."
  • Return to Monkey Island - "Return to Monkey Island is an unexpected, thrilling return of series creator Ron Gilbert that continues the story of the legendary adventure games The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge developed in collaboration with Lucasfilm Games."

Apple Watch App of the Year

  • Planny - "There are tons of apps that let you write down your tasks and forget about them. Planny is different because it helps you remember tasks and do them, too."
  • SmartGym - "Routines, History, and Body Measures are now extremely simple to keep track of. And of course, with a beautiful Apple Watch app, so you don't even need your phone while you workout."
  • Tide Guide - "Tide Guide features global tide and marine weather conditions from the best data providers available. Designed for water lovers, beach-goers, boatsmen, surfers, and anyone who needs to know the tide."

Apple TV App of the Year

  • Bugsnax - "It's up to you to solve the mysteries of Snaktooth Island: What happened to Lizbert? What are Bugsnax and where do they come from? But most of all, why do they taste SO GOOD?"
  • FitOn - "Stay active, reduce stress, and feel good with unlimited access to free workouts and meditations. Get your sweat on with celebrity trainers and read articles on how to take care of yourself both mentally and physically."
  • MUBI - "Discover great films, from iconic directors to emerging artists. From everywhere around the world. Each is carefully chosen by MUBI’s curators. Stream or download beautiful movies, anytime. On any screen or device, anywhere."

Apple Arcade Game of the Year

  • Cityscapes - "A brand new, sustainable take on classic city building games, brought to you by veteran sim builders."
  • Hello Kitty Island Adventure - "Embark on a cozy adventure with Hello Kitty and Friends and restore an abandoned island to its former glory. Can you solve the mystery hidden within?"
  • stitch. - "Stitch. is a casual puzzle game with embroidery on a numbered grid. The main objective is to fill in the levels' areas with no gaps to complete Hoops."

These ten categories have highlighted the best apps and the best games for each Apple device, and are all worth your time if you've never used them before. Expect to hear who wins in each of these categories later this month once Apple announces the results.

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Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.