WWDC 2012: The Apple Design Award Winners

It’s a tough app market out there with more than 650,000 apps, so here are 10 of the best designed ones, according to Apple.

App Design Excellence

All the apps to receive the Apple Design Awards this year have two things in common: they’re exclusive to iOS, which means you won’t be able to get them on rival platforms, and they’re designed with the high-resolution display on the latest Apple gear in mind. It’s a tough app market out there with more than 650,000 apps, of which 225,000 are designed for the iPad, so here are 10 of the best designed ones.

Jetpack Joyride

Jetpack Joyride is an iOS exclusive side-scrolling arcade game from the creators of Fruit Ninja. Apple picked it as an iPhone Design Award winner because it uses iOS graphics and audio frameworks to enable really fun graphics, and it's optimized for Retina Display on the iPad and iPhone.


Developer: Halfbrick Studios

Get this app (Free, Universal)

Where’s My Water

Swampy the Alligator is the star of this simple yet fun game created by a small team of programmers, designers, and producers exclusively for iOS. Apple selected this app for a Design Award because it's attractive and clever, has a likable character, a consistent narrative, vibrant graphics and intuitive controls.

Developer: Disney

Get this app ($0.99, Universal)

National Parks by National Geographic

National Geographic’s iPhone app helps you explore some of the most-visited national parks, with pictures, maps, guides, points of interests with GPS coordinates and caching for offline viewing. Apple picked this app for an award for its strong design and attention to detail and subtle and compelling animations and transitions.


Developer: National Geographic Society

Get this app (Free)

Bobo Explores Light

Bobo Explores Light is an educational app presenting 21 light-related topics with a difference. Apple said the app won an award for breaking the mold for digital textbooks with extensive use of OpenGL ES and high-speed animations, as well as a creative use of the accelerometer and multi-touch gestures.

Developer: Game Collage LLC

Get this app ($1.99)

DM1-The Drum Machine

DM1 turns your iPad into a beat machine with various drum kits and effects, exclusively for iPad, with Retina graphics on board. Apple picked DM1 for a Design Award for its tight integration with iOS audio frameworks and sleek yet classic interface design.

Developer: Fingerlab

Get this app ($4.99)

Paper by FiftyThree

Paper is probably the closest thing you'll get to a real notebook on your iPad, with notebooks and pages, and the app comes with one free drawing tool, useful for notes and drawings. You have to pay in the app for other tools, which include pencils, markers and colors. Apple picked Paper for an award for its use of OpenGL ES for realistic lighting and shadows on content, and Grand Central Dispatch and Blocks for progressive loading of art and networking.

Developer: FiftyThree Inc

Get this app (Free)

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Ultimate Edition

Deux Ex is an action role-play game for Macs set in the future, which despite its price, Apple chose for its compelling game play, great graphics, and large environments that immerse the player in the game.

Developer: Feral Interactive Ltd

Get this app ($49.99)


Limbo is a side-scrolling puzzle and adventure game for Macs that received an award for its compelling monochromatic graphics, simple controls and great sound design.

Developer: Playdead ApS

Get this app ($9.99)


Apple awarded the professional vector graphics Sketch app for Macs for its powerful design capabilities and use of AppKit to manage drawing, undo actions and text rendering, and CoreGraphics for all drawing, exporting, colors and gradients.

Developer: Bohemian Coding

Get this app ($39.99)


In the student category, Apple awarded DaWindci, created by a group of students as a 3D project for Mediadesign Highschool of Applied Sciences in Munich. It’s an addictive touch-based puzzle game, exclusive to iOS, which uses multi-touch to paint wind, hurricanes and lightning to navigate a hot air balloon through game levels.

Developers: Reality Twist GmbH, Mimimi Productions

Get this app ($3.99)

Little Star

Little Star gets the second student app design award after it was developed by a group of students at Dalian Nationalities University in China. Exclusive to iPad, the multilingual app (English, Mandarin, Cantonese) tells the story of five friends on their journey to catch stars.

Developer: BiBoBox Studio

Get this app ($2.99)

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