While it may sound a little scary, we’re quickly heading toward the end of 2023 — and that means Apple is gearing up to hand out some App Store awards for its favorite apps of the year for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and more. .
Apple has just announced the ‘Finalists’ stage for the App Store Awards, which means we have shortlists of potential winners across several categories. While Apple honors Mac apps, Apple TV apps, and games in its awards, in this guide we’ve focused on its non-gaming competitors for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
So, if you’re looking for a roundup of this year’s best apps in these categories, with TechRadar’s thoughts on each, look no further. You can navigate through the list using the section links on the left, and at the end, we’ve also included the non-gaming apps selected for Apple’s “Cultural Impact Award.”
Apple will no doubt announce the final winners from these nominees soon, but you can start picking your favorites — and if you need more app inspiration, check out TechRadar’s Homescreen Heroes features for a taste of all the TechRadar team’s favorite lesser-known apps.
iPhone applications for this year
1. All tracks
Apple nominated AllTrails to “help the world find its way out” after being largely isolated for the past few years, and we support the decision. AllTrails may already be one of the most popular activity tracking apps, but that popularity is deserved because it’s extremely easy to use for hikers and runners. If you want to see how it compares to its main competitor, check out our in-depth Strava vs AllTrails comparison.
Duolingo is another app you may have already heard of, but it’s another deserving member of Apple’s shortlist. It may not top our list of best language learning apps (that goes to Babbel), but it’s the best mobile app for learning Spanish, French, Chinese, or another language for your next trip. But what’s even more exciting is that Duolingo has now added new music and updated math lessons to the app to boost your brain.
Apple already praised this airport companion earlier this year at the 2023 Apple Design Awards, and now Flighty has made the shortlist for its year-end gongs as well.
Apple says it was nominated for “keeping travelers on time and stress-free at the airport.” It does this by providing flight maps, airport navigation, and delay forecasts, and it integrates easily with Apple Maps, Siri Shortcuts, and Live Activities.
iPad applications of this year
If there’s an app designed specifically for the new Apple Pencil, it’s the vector-based Sketchbook. We haven’t reviewed Concepts on TechRadar, but it has an impressive 4.7-star rating on the App Store — and now Apple has shortlisted it for iPad App of the Year.
Instead of a drawing app like Procreate, Concepts is designed to capture your ideas, notes, mind maps, and even product drawings or designs. Its maker says the app is used by creators at Disney, Playstation, Apple, and others — so if it’s good enough for them, it’s worth a try (if you can afford the subscription fee).
5. Da Vinci’s solution
DaVinci Resolve has long been a popular desktop app for video editors, but this year it’s finally coming to the iPad — a big win for mobile YouTubers and content creators.
DaVinci Resolve for iPad’s practical review praised its real-time color grading, multi-track audio, and timeline editing tools. Some powerful AI tools also help you edit videos quickly without compromising on accuracy. Definitely a strong contender for the overall prize.
6. Ready for makeup
We have to admit that Prêt-à-Makeup isn’t an iPad app we’ve tried, but it does seem like a very useful tool for makeup artists — and Apple has praised it for “bringing makeup designs to life for all beauty enthusiasts.”
Artists use the app’s face charts to test, plan, or track the products and combinations used in the different looks they’ve designed. Since it’s purely professionally focused, Prêt-à-Makeup is naturally a subscription app, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the industry.
Apple Watch apps of the year
The Apple Watch already has a generous helping of productivity apps, but Apple has added Planny to its awards shortlist for “helping users intelligently stay on top of tasks.”
Planny calls itself a “calendar, to-do list, and productivity tool” in one app, but its main skill is to schedule your tasks intelligently, rather than shadowing you through a mountainous to-do list. We’re big fans of Toggl Track for Android and iOS smartphones, but Planny seems like a good alternative for Watch fans.
8. Smart Gym
Tracking your workouts on a smartwatch can be difficult. We’re big fans of the Apple Watch’s built-in Custom Workouts functionality, but Apple has also shortlisted SmartGym for its App Awards.
It’s been nominated for “creating smart, targeted workouts at any skill level,” and although it’s been around for a while, this year the app got a major redesign, adding features like a new monthly summary as well as updated routines and exercises. The app’s Year in Review feature also works like Spotify Wrapped for your workouts.
9. Tidal guide
It may seem a bit niche, but Tide Guide has long been considered one of the best iOS apps for checking local tide times — making it useful for water sports enthusiasts and photographers looking to plan their shots.
Now the Apple Watch version of the app has been nominated for Apple’s Smartwatch App Award, and for good reason. The app is well designed and recently updated for beginners with a new tips and tricks guide.
Cultural Impact Award
Last year, Apple presented a “Cultural Impact Award” for apps that are slightly less popular than the other winners, but arguably more influential. This year, several apps were nominated again for their outstanding work in areas ranging from personal finance to bedtime stories about heroic women.
The five non-gaming apps in the list are all below. balance It has been shortlisted for the ‘Making Menopause Support More Inclusive and Accessible’ award, while it has been shortlisted for the ‘Making Menopause Support More Inclusive and Accessible’ award. copilot (which has an impressive five-star rating on the App Store) has been praised for its ability to help you track and budget your money.
in another place, I speak It’s an AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) app that, as its makers describe, is designed to “meet the diverse needs of non-speaking people who can use an iPad independently.”
Rebellious girls is a wonderful adaptation of the award-winning podcast Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which gives children inspiring, confidence-building stories about real women. And finally, my favorite site, TechRadar Too good to go It gets a well-deserved mention for helping us reduce food waste in restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets.