As I/O kicks off this week, Google hosted its third annual Google Play Awards, recognising the best apps and games on its Google Play app marketplace in the last year.
The apps battling it out for the top spot came in nine categories, and not only offered great experiences to their fans but also had a great positive impact on their communities. Whether that impact was to empower people to live better, to enable better user experiences for those with special needs, to encourage positive community-building, or to create engaging and immersive experiences, the winning apps really stood out.
Check out the winners below. The rest of the finalists can also be found here.
Standout Well-Being App
This category was for apps that empower people “to live the best version of their lives,” while also “demonstrating responsible design and engagement strategies.” The winner was Simple Habit by Simple Habit, Inc.
Best Accessibility Experience
This category was for apps or games that offer a great accessibility experience and enable device interaction that serves”people with disabilities or special needs.” The winner was Be My Eyes by Be My Eyes.
Best Social Impact
This category was for apps or games “that create a positive impact in communities around the world.” Those apps or games could be focused on a range of issues: health, education, crisis response, refugees, financial health and fundraising functions. The winner in this category was Khan Academy by Khan Academy.
The “Standout Indie” category features games from indie developers and that “focus on artistic design, gameplay mechanics, and overall polish.” The winner in this category was Old Man’s Journey by Broken Rules Interactive Media GmbH.
Best Community Building Game
The category features games that are built to “connect gamers,” and to encourage social interaction and community building. The winner in this category was Episode, by Pocket Gems.
Best AR or VR Experience
The winner in this “Best AR / VR Experience” category was BBC Earth: Life in VR by BBC Worldwide (Ltd). This category featured apps or games that offer “highly engaging and immersive experiences with optimal use of ARCore or Daydream UI.”
Standout Build for Billions Experience
The winner in this category was free online shopping app Flipkart, currently very popular in developing markets like India. The category featured apps or games “with optimized performance, localization, and culturalization for emerging markets.”
The “Standout Startup” category is for apps from new developers that are offering truly unique experiences “while achieving strong organic install growth.” Canva, the app that makes design amazingly simple won this category hands down. It allows you to easily create Facebook posts and covers, Instagram posts, Twitter posts and headers, YouTube channel art and thumbnails, and more!
Best Breakthrough Hit
This category rewards “new apps or games with excellent overall design, user experience, engagement and retention,” as well as “strong organic install growth.” The winner was Empires & Puzzles by Small Giant Games.