Mobile apps have shown tremendous growth in the year 2012 in terms of number of downloads, availability on various mobile platforms and updates. Today, an apps store forms a vital part of the mobile platform. While Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android apps stores are enjoying their positions in the mobile apps race, others like Microsoft, RIM and Nokia are trying to catch up. In fact, manufacturers are also gearing up with their own stores like Samsung, Micromax and more. Though we didn't see any new breakthrough app (non-gaming) being released this year, some existing brilliant apps were being made available to other platforms while others have got some significant updates, which makes them all eligible for our G.O.T.Y 2012: Mobile apps list. Take a look at our list of top 3 to know which ones offered more usability.
App of the Year: Google Maps
Continues to reign
Though Google Maps has been around for some time and no one will question its efficiency, this year we saw how vital it is and how it has made navigation a breeze. Ask Apple users and they will definitely vouch for this. Apple ditching Google maps created a frenzy among iOS users, until Google finally launched the Google maps for iOS users recently. The Apple app store recorded 10 million downloads within 48 hours after the launch. Google maps are efficient, precise and feature-packed. Some highlights of the app are detailed maps with 3D buildings, voice guided turn-by-turn GPS navigation, driving, public transit, live traffic information for select cities, Google Maps street view and much much more. Available in more than 40 countries and in about 29 languages, the Google Maps application also has indoor maps for select airports, hotels and retail stores.
First Runner Up: Instagram
Gave photo editing and sharing a new meaning
This app is responsible for creating sort of a rage among budding photographers, hobbyists and social media freaks. iOS users were the only ones who could lay their hands rathers fingers on this app until this April, when it was launched for the Android platform. In just about 20 days, 10 million Android devices had this app installed. Making photo sharing fun with finishing touches of some really cool filters, Instagram’s popularity has just quadrupled in 2012. It even made some headlines after being acquired by the leading social network – Facebook. This free app makes photo sharing fun with a slew of custom designed filters and borders, front and back camera support, instant sharing via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare. As a photo sharing platform, Instagram lets you like and comment on photos too.
Second Runner Up: Nokia City Lens
An awesome augmented reality app
Nokia pulled out this awesome augmented reality app this year, which has quite potential to get the leading app stores thinking and working harder. The Nokia City Lens uses the phone’s camera display to reveal the best shops, restaurants and points of interest as virtual signs overlaid on the buildings and you can instantly view what’s there. Just tap on the icon to find more information, and then you can just share the directions with a friend. You can tap again to see further information like reviews, contact details and so on. You can view additional options just by tilting the phone. This augmented reality app ensures that you don't wander around searching for a cafe or street signs. Still in beta, this app offers Sightline that declutters the surrounding for easier searches, Freeze view lets you browse comfortably, pin favourite categories and create Live Tiles. Now, you may not use this app all, day but when you do, it's simply worth it.
Among the millions of apps available in the various app stores, we just couldn't pick only the top 3. There could be an endless list of apps worth mentioning; we have listed down a few such apps in our honourary mentions.
Creating a group chatting craze
Another app that has quite taken the world by storm is WhatsApp. It’s as popular as Facebook and Twitter. And since its launch, it has slowly but surely taken the position of the number one messenger app. Not restricted to any one platform, it’s truly inclusive and pretty straightforward to use. Its popularity went to newer heights this year. Apart from the usual messaging, it’s packed with features right from the ability to share files, videos, images, audio notes, location, group chat, add images to the contact and much more. The fact that it is free but still devoid of ads is what adds to its charm. An indication of its popularity is the fact that even the smallest of service outage or other issues, is sure to grab headlines. WhatsApp Messenger is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia.
Though it wasn’t launched this year, it’s one of those must have apps whose popularity doesn’t seem to wane. Keeping a track of things to do, take pictures, add voice reminders, create notes and much more. And what makes it so popular is that it can be synced across devices, so you have access to all you stuff, be it on mobile or on PC. It even allows you to share files via social networking sites. Available for Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows, it’s equally popular on all the platforms.
Tasker understands you well
This app may not be very popular but comes across as highly efficient. Tasker is a perfect replacement for a voice assistant. For instance, you can set it up to automatically turn the phone to silent every time you keep the phone facing down or even toggle Wi-Fi by shaking the phone. And these are just some of the simplest examples. Tasker is capable of monitoring things like the orientation of the phone, the proximity sensor, signal strengths, light levels and many more. It can even monitor notifications from apps, including third party ones. One of the highlights is the Scenes feature that lets you create your own interface with icons and menus that you can interact with. Currently available for Android, we would love to see it come across other platforms.
Google launched the Chrome app early this year, allowing faster searches and browsing on phones and tablets. You can even sign in to sync your personalised Chrome experience from your computer to bring it with you anywhere you go. Some key features of the Chrome app are search and fast navigation directly from the same box, browsing with accelerated page loading, scrolling and zooming. Offering simple, intuitive mobile experience, it lets you open and quickly switch between an unlimited number of tabs. It is available for the leading iOS and Android platforms.
That’s our G.O.T.Y 2012 for apps (non-gaming). Do let us know what apps made it to your list. We’d love to know just which of 2012’s big launches left their impression on you.
Compliments of the seasons to all of you. We hope you’ve had a great year and wish you all the very best for 2013.
Check out our other G.O.T.Y 2012 award lists here.