Best of 2017

Here's to the devices, accessories, and apps that helped us get through the last 365 days. Be they smartphones, headphones, chargers, games, HomeKit accessories, or photography techniques, each of these features and devices have made our time in 2017 better — or at the least, more interesting.

So, without any further ado: Our 2017 iMore award winners!

Best of the Year

Best Apple device

iPhone X

Ten years after the original iPhone, we have the first major reinvention of how to use Apple's smartphone. iPhone X packs a number of incredible features into its 5.8-inch diagonal frame — including Face ID, the TrueDepth camera, a better rear camera, OLED screen, A11 Bionic chip, and beautiful stainless steel hull — but it's how the phone changes the core of the iOS experience that will be remembered. Home button what now? — Serenity Caldwell

More: iPhone X

Runner Up: iPad Pro 10.5-inch

Best iOS Feature

Automatic Setup

First introduced with the fourth-generation Apple TV, Apple's Automatic Setup came to all its iOS devices in 2017, greatly simplifying the once-brutal pain point of getting a new device — setting it up. Now, with iOS 11, users can just scan a particle-based QR code to transfer the majority of their settings from an old phone to a new phone, or to reconnect an Apple Watch — no onerous restore process necessary. — Serenity Caldwell

Runner up: ARKit

Best macOS Feature

Safari

With the minor update to macOS High Sierra, a major set of features was added to Safari including things like intelligent tracking prevention, which adds extra effort to keep websites from tracking you across your web browsing activities. Safari also now lets you stop videos from auto-playing when you load a website and you can set a website to show you reader view every time you visit. The best part is that all of these features are customizable on an individual basis or set a rule across all of your favorite sites. — Lory Gil

Runner up: Photos for macOS High Sierra

Best watchOS Feature

Health and Fitness

When we sat down to pick a watchOS 4 feature, we ended up with a four-way tie around Apple's improvements to health and fitness. iCloud Health sync, the new Workout app, Activity coaching, and the new Heart Rate app all work together in perfect harmony; as such, it only makes sense to give the award to the whole health and fitness suite. With its 2017 health initiatives, Apple has not only found its sweet spot for the Apple Watch — it's helping us all become a little healthier, too. — Serenity Caldwell

More: watchOS 4

Runners up: Automatic Setup for Apple Watch

Best tvOS Feature

Home Screen Sync

The Apple TV still doesn't have a proper backup option for moving to a new device, but tvOS 11's Home Screen sync takes away one of the bigger frustrations when upgrading to the 4K Apple TV. Turning it on for an older Apple TV — or a TV in another room — allows your newly-set up rig to sync your apps, their data, and their positioning. Because no one deserves to spend three hours redownloading and arranging their apps just to finish that episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. — Serenity Caldwell

Runners up: Live Sports

Story of the Year

Apple's software slips

The old joke about Apple's software quality dipping has been around for years, but 2017 provided a number of particularly depressing punchlines. Major security bugs in macOS High Sierra and HomeKit, strange auto-correction bugs and emoji irritations, and "iPhone Slow" have all done a number on the company's reputation, and it's going to take more than a Taylor Swift-style song rebuttal to get the company back into good graces with its users. — Serenity Caldwell

More: iPhone Slow: What the analysts and experts have to say

Runners up: Data hacks Firmware leaks

Best of iPhone

Best iPhone app

Halide

There were a ton of excellent iPhone apps released in 2017, but none stayed with us as much as Halide, Chroma Noir's manual camera app. The interface is both beautiful and practical, and helps us turn everyday situations into incredible photos. — Serenity Caldwell

Runners up: Apollo Carrot Weather Things 3

Best iPhone game

Stranger Things: The Game

One of the best surprises of 2017 was when Stranger Things: The Game appeared on the App Store, pretty much out of nowhere, and gave us a nostalgic-laden adventure that took place in everyone's favorite fictional small town, Hawkins, Indiana. This game has everything you could want in an iPhone game including, amazing 8-bit graphics, a killer soundtrack, and best of all, is completely free. — Luke Filipowicz

Runners up: Reigns: Her Majesty Old Man's Journey Monument Valley 2 Splitter Critters

Best iPhone accessory

Mophie Wireless Charge Pad

Contact-based (don't call it "wireless") Qi charging came to the iPhone 8 and X this year, and a thousand and one chargers came rushing out to fill the charging void. The Mophie Wireless Charge Pad may have been one of the first out of the gate, but it's differentiated itself by being one of the most reliable — and one of the few that supports 7.5W fast-charging for Apple's devices. — Serenity Caldwell

Best sticker pack

Sticky AI

Who needs emoji when you have your own facial expressions? That's the premise behind Sticky AI, an iMessages-based app that lets you make stickers of any selfie you take by cutting out your background and adding funny captions. It hasn't quite gotten the iMore staff off our collective Bitmoji addiction, but it's come close. — Serenity Caldwell

Best Messages app

Infltr

While most of iMore's staff prefer to send stickers, tapbacks, or emoji in our messages to one another, photos remain a big part of the modern conversational experience — and Infltr is one of the best apps for snapping those shots. Built for quick-fire snaps (like Facebook Messenger's camera), Infltr lets you quickly shoot and send still images or Live Photo gifs with thousands of different color-based filters applied. It's fun to use, and makes the typical blurry messages selfie just a bit more interesting. — Serenity Caldwell

Runner up: Apple Pay Cash

Best social feature

Instagram Stories

While Instagram Stories officially launched in late 2016, Facebook has spent the last year completely overhauling the feature and making it shine. Stories Live, Archive, and Highlights have all contributed to elevating the company's ephemeral sharing experience; in doing so, they've shown the "Snapchat world" to millions of other users and gotten them on-board — myself included. — Serenity Caldwell

Best Siri app

Things

After Apple added to-do app integration to Siri, it was only a matter of time before we saw support for Cultured Code's Things. The company's Apple Design Award-winning to-do app integrates smartly with Siri and provides a cheat sheet of commands in its menu — invaluable when you're first getting used to Siri's sometimes-bizarre syntax for third-party apps. — Serenity Caldwell

Best photo editing app

Focos

If you've spent any time with Apple's Portrait mode in the Camera app, chances are you've taken a photo that… wasn't quite right. Whether your significant other is out of focus or your pet has its ear cut off, you can pop the image into Focos and edit the depth map to make the photo look great. The app also has a truly ridiculous number of bokeh effects to spruce up the look of your Portrait mode photo; it's an easy buy for Portrait mode photographers. — Serenity Caldwell

Runners up: Afterlight 2 Momento

Best iPhone case

Twelve South Journal

iPhone case taste is about as personal as clothing, so it's hard to pick one case to represent the whole of the market in 2017. But when it comes to innovative case design, the choice is clear: Twelve South reinvented the folio case in 2016 with the Journal, and its iPhone X version is the best of the best. Unlike folio cases past, the Journal smartly folds in the middle to make holding the phone easy — and can be used as a stand to prop up your phone for late-night movie-watching, too. — Serenity Caldwell

Runner up: Lifeproof NËXT

Best portable charger

Mophie Charge Force Powerstation

The more we use our smartphones, the quicker they run out of juice. Mophie's external batteries have been excellent options for years when it comes to heavy-battery users (abusers?), and the contact-based Charge Force is an excellent 10,000mAh battery from the company… with a Qi twist. While you can still charge corded, with this battery, you can also plop any iPhone 8 or X directly onto Mophie's battery for a quick contact-based recharge. — Serenity Caldwell

Runner up: ElevationLab's BatteryPro

Best headphones

Beats X

2017 was a banner year for wireless headphones, with Apple's W1-equipped headphones leading the charge. 2016's AirPods may have been the must-have headphones of 2017, but it's Apple's February-released Beats X that won our hearts this year. The corded headphones sport 4 more hours of battery life than the AirPods and a better (noise-isolating) fit for picky ears, not to mention the cheaper entry point. — Serenity Caldwell

Runners up: Blue Satellite Beats Studio Wireless

Best of iPad

Best iPad app

Linea

The Iconfactory's first attempt at an iPad sketching application blew us away: It's such a pleasant and fun drawing experience for all levels of iPad art, and tools like its complementary-color picker are unsung gems that make creating a masterpiece a snap. If I could only buy one sketching app for the iPad, I'd pick up Linea. — Serenity Caldwell

More: Linea — The Animated Review!

Runners up: Affinity Photo Ulyssses Gladys

Best iPad game

Red's Kingdom

We can't recommend Red's Kingdom enough. The app has well-thought-out puzzles laid out in colorful landscapes, and its clever scripting and wacky but lovable cast of characters make the game an utter delight. — Luke Filipowicz

Runners up: The Uncertain 7 Wonders Mysterium: A Psychic Clue Game

Best of Mac

Best Mac app

Pixelmator Pro

Forget Photoshop — this year, the Pixelmator team delivered the pro photo editing app I'd been waiting for. It puts picture editing front and center, streamlining the user interface with a beautiful Mac-centric design. The app also uses macOS High Sierra's machine learning to create smart layers and automatic labeling. It gives Mac users all the advanced editing tools they'd need to perfect their photos without distraction — and does so at a reasonable price, too. — Lory Gil

Runners up: Bumpr Cardhop Twitterrific 5 for Twitter

Best Mac game

The Witness

The Witness features absolutely stunning visuals and exploration gameplay — it's the kind of game that lets you easily get lost in the world it creates. With over 500 different puzzles to solve, the game never gets stale and offers a bunch of challenging moments to keep you on your toes. — Luke Filipowicz

Runners up: Bioshock Remastered Obduction Oxenfree

Best Mac accessory

Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad

It was a long time coming: No, not the new iMac Pro (although it's pretty cool). Apple's wireless keyboard now comes with a number-pad option — and with it, all the extra middle-column function keys pro users adore. It may not be the most innovative accessory out there, but it's one much-needed in Apple's wireless keyboard landscape. — Serenity Caldwell

Runner up: mophie powerstation USB-C XXL

Best Mac hub & dongles

Arc Hub

There are more practical MacBook hubs available. There are hubs with more ports. But the Arc Hub from Bourge Design has flair. It also has 2 USB-C ports, 2 USB-A ports, 1 HDMI port, 1 Mini DisplayPort, and an SDHC card slot. If you want to expand and look great doing it, you want the Arc Hub. — Rene Ritchie

Best Mac external drive

Samsung T5 Portable SSD

Modern Macs are all about SSD and USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 and that means living with an old hard drive or sub USB 3.1 speeds is… slow. That makes Samsung's T5 Portable SSD, which can connect over USB-C or USB-A and comes in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB not only big enough to back up your Mac, but fast enough. And starting at just $99, there's no excuse not to get one. Or several. — Rene Ritchie

Runner up: Drobo 5D3

Best Mac bag

Waterfield Designs AirPorter

Waterfield's talent for great laptop bags comes to a head with the AirPorter, a carry-on designed to let you not only take your laptop along, but just about everything else you might need on a short trip, too. I've fit a weekend's worth of clothes and electronics inside the bag before — and it still had room to carry my water bottle, too. — Serenity Caldwell

Runner up: Booq SuperSlim

Best of Apple Watch

Best Watch app

Carrot Weather

Grailr's snarky weather AI app has outdone itself this time. Its completely redesigned Apple Watch interface brings all the wit and attitude of Carrot to the wrist, along with a number of customizable slots to feature the data you care about (without too much clutter). It's a poster child for what developers can — and should — be doing on Apple Watch. — Serenity Caldwell

Runners up: Starbucks AutoSleep Just Press Record Workouts++

Best Apple Watch game

Pocket Bandit

Simple, cute, and fun, Pocket Bandit has lots to love. The best part of Pocket Bandit is its use of the Digital Crown. You use the Crown to help crack the game's safe; with the Apple Watch's haptic feedback, you may find yourself pulled into the game's atmosphere in an instant. — Luke Filipowicz

Best Watch complication

Just Press Record

Just Press Record's lot in life is simple: It quickly records audio memos for you from your watch or iPhone, and uploads them to iCloud. The watch complication makes that process even simpler — just tap it, and recording will automatically begin. It's a great way to record ideas while in the car (especially with the iPhone app's automatic transcription service). — Serenity Caldwell

Runners up: Starbucks Carrot Weather

Best Watch accessory

ElevationLab's BatteryPro

The Apple Watch's battery has improved significantly since its first version, but you still may run into the occasional time where you might want to give it a little extra boost. ElevationLab has come up with one of the most ingenious ways to do this, offering a portable battery that clips the Apple Watch to its magnetic charger — ensuring your watch will get its juice even if you're running around with it in your bag. — Serenity Caldwell

Runner up: AliveCor KardiaBand

Best Watch band

Apple Sport Loop

Apple continues its year-over-year triumph of introducing fantastic new entry-level bands to the watch ecosystem. The Sport Loop is the most comfortable of Apple's branded bands, durable, and its variable sizing and auto-catch mechanism should provide relief to runners who might need to adjust while on the fly. — Serenity Caldwell

Runner up: AliveCor KardiaBand

Best of home and gaming

Best HomeKit accessory

Logitech Circle 2

After waiting nearly the entire year for them to grace us with their presence, 2017 saw the introduction of about four HomeKit-enabled cameras (some of them have yet to ship). Among the HomeKit-enabled cameras available, the Logitech Circle 2 stands above the rest thanks to its elegant design, numerous installation options, and excellent motion sensor alerts. If you're in the market for a HomeKit-enabled camera, you needn't shop around — the Logitech Circle 2 is hands-down the one to buy. — Mikah Sargent

Runner up: Elgato Eve system

Best TV

LG OLED C7P Television

There's no point in getting the Apple TV 4K without a 4K television, there's no point getting a 4K television without HDR, and there's no point getting HDR without Dolby Vision. And that makes the very best thing you can buy for your new Apple TV 4K a new LG OLED C7P television to go with it. The picture is simply so good you're never going to want to look at anything else. — Rene Ritchie

Best Apple TV app

Amazon Prime Video

Though Amazon's entry onto the Apple TV hasn't been without controversy — especially when it comes to its non-standard design — I think we're all agreed that it's nice to finally have the app on the platform after years of teasing and speculation. — Serenity Caldwell

Runners up: Hulu Plex TV

Best Apple TV game

Playdead's INSIDE

Although Playdead's INSIDE is a universal app, it's unquestionably the best while playing it on the Apple TV. The gorgeous art design and superb soundtrack look and sound great on a big screen with nice speakers. I highly recommend Playdead's INSIDE to all fans of Limbo, as well as any fan of platform puzzlers in general. — Luke Filipowicz

Runners up: Peregrin Yuri Radiation City

Best audio

Sonos One

Though Apple teased — and ultimately failed to deliver — its new HomePod, its rivals were more than happy to step up their speaker game. Of them all, the Sonos One shines through as the best speaker/assistant combo: It may still be working out the kinks when it comes to Alexa's greater Skills set, but it provides a great hook into the Sonos ecosystem (and the audio quality that results). In 2018, it's also expected to get AirPlay 2 — giving it access to Apple's audio system, as well. — Serenity Caldwell

Runners up: Google Home Max Blue Satellite Beats Studio Wireless

Best gaming machine

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo's sleeper hit of 2017 was the Switch, a hybrid console/mobile gaming device that is making big waves for its unique ability to let players game on the big screen or on the go without missing a beat. Whether you're connected to your TV playing Skyrim or on the bus playing Super Mario Odyssey, you're always set with a full gaming experience. It's also the perfect multiplayer game device whether you're connected to a TV, playing in tabletop mode with a few friends, having a LAN party, or going up against players around the world online. What's not to love?! — Lory Gil

Runner up: Lenovo's Star Wars Challenges

Best console game

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Not only is BotW the best game you can play on Nintendo Switch, it also won the best game of the year at the 2017 Game Awards. It's definitely the most immersive game in the series and pretty much rewrote how we'll see future adventures with Link. Whether you're breaking wild horses, taking down Moblins, or saving Hyrule from doom, you'll be traversing the kingdom with Link for hours on end. On Switch, you don't have to stop playing when its time to leave, either. You can take your game on the road without missing a beat and even hook it up to the big screen at your new location if you've got the right setup. — Lory Gil

Best accessory for Nintendo Switch

Hori Compact Playstand

If you've tried to play your Nintendo Switch in tablet mode with the Joy-Cons separated, you'll know just what a pain it is to set the Switch upright using that flimsy kickstand that is only on the right side. You also already know that charging your Switch while it's standing up in tablet mode is literally impossible because the only charging port is on the bottom (seriously bad design there, Nintendo). Hori makes a portable Switch stand that flattens down slim enough to fit into your skinny jeans pocket and works perfectly as a stable stand with three different viewing angles for your Switch in tablet mode. Seriously, I use it while setting my Switch upright on my lap it works so well. Plus, it raises your Switch off of the ground a couple of inches so you can simultaneously charge it while playing games for hours and hours. — Lory Gil

Best VR Headset (for all)

PlayStation VR

While 2017 brought forth a ton of great experiences with Virtual Reality headsets, there's very little room to argue that Sony's efforts were the most accessible. Every PlayStation 4 console was instantly turned into a VR-ready machine with a software update, and comparatively inexpensive PlayStation VR setup made it easy to jump into amazing games and share with friends. — Russell Holly

Runner up: HTC Vive

Best VR Headset (For Mac users)

HTC Vive

It's early days for VR support on the Mac, but the HTC Vive is the most capable VR system you can buy today. Sure, you pay for the privilege and it requires quite a bit of hardware to drive the experience, but the ability to take a step in the real world and see that step translated in the virtual world is an entirely unique experience. This is the headset for people who really want to push the boundaries of what modern VR is capable of. — Russell Holly

Best VR Experience

Star Trek: Bridge Crew

There are lots of amazing things you can do in VR, from shooters to puzzle games to just watching a movie with other friends in VR. The most impactful experiences from this year all made you really feel like you were there, and top of that list is Star Trek: Bridge Crew. When playing this game with a full crew of people who are familiar with their positions, you really feel like you're a part of a team and working together to reach an objective. There's no other VR experience quite like it right now. — Russell Holly

Runner up: Sparc

Best AR experience

Star Wars: Jedi Challenges

I don't know many people who pick up a toy lightsaber and aren't immediately compelled to swing it around like their favorite Jedi. Thanks to AR, instead of accidentally knocking over a lamp you can fight Sith lords and other enemies of the Republic inside your own special headset. Experiences like this one will shape the way we view augmented reality in the future, not to mention bringing you one step closer to being an actual Jedi Master. — Russell Holly

Runner up: JigSpace

Best VR accessory

PlayStation VR Aim Controller

VR accessories are designed to make the virtual world feel a little more real by making the thing you are holding feel like it could actually be the thing your character is holding in the game. This gets translated well with racing games and steering wheels, but if you're looking to shoot something the best example is the controller Sony made for the PlayStation VR this year. The Aim Controller only supports a handful of games right now, but the additional immersion gained by having this accessory on hand totally justifies its existence. — Russell Holly

Runner up: RockBand VR Guitar for Oculus Rift