App Store Awards: Reviewing Apple’s Top Apps & Games of 2021

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On the finish of every 12 months, Apple releases its winners of the App Store Awards! These awards showcase the very best apps and video games of the 12 months throughout iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch. Apple selects its 15 award recipients primarily based on technical innovation, person expertise, and design, in addition to the influence these apps and video games have had on our lives.


Table of Contents

App Store Award winners: Recap

On this part, we’ll briefly analyze how nicely the awarded apps and video games carried out on the App Store earlier than the announcement.

Apps of the 12 months 2021 (iPhone and iPad)

Toca Life World was awarded the very best iPhone app of the 12 months. First, it’s fascinating to notice that the builders of Toca Life World positioned the app within the Training class, not the Video games class, the place the app was ranked #3 among the many high free apps. Within the 90 days earlier than the App Store winners had been introduced, Toca Life Phrase was featured on the App Store 259 instances, together with 80 instances within the At this time tab! This represents a mean of round 20 featurings per week, which is an particularly excessive quantity. Contemplating this quantity with regard to Toca Life World’s opponents, we see that solely The Sims earned an identical quantity of featurings; the app’s different opponents sometimes didn’t achieve any featurings within the 90 days earlier than the award winners had been introduced.

LumaFusion was awarded the iPad app of the 12 months. It was ranked #10 among the many top-grossing apps within the iPad’s Graphics & Design class, in addition to within the Picture & Video class. On common, LumaFusion was featured on the App Store 3 instances per week earlier than the award announcement, which is kind of good contemplating its essential opponents weren’t featured in any respect.

Video games of the 12 months 2021 (iPhone & iPad)

League of Legends was awarded the very best iPhone sport of the 12 months; regardless of being ranked #12 among the many high free apps of the App Store’s Technique class, the app ranked exterior of the highest 200 within the App Store’s Video games class. The sport was featured 525 instances within the 90 days earlier than the App Store winners had been introduced (round 41 featurings per week), which is an extremely excessive quantity! Nonetheless, video games are usually featured on the App Store extra typically than apps, as we additionally see with Conflict Royal which was additionally featured lots over earlier than the announcement.

MARVEL Future Revolution was awarded the very best iPad sport of the 12 months. It ranked solely #152 among the many high free app within the iPad’s Function Enjoying class and was featured on common round 15 instances per week earlier than the announcement, together with 14 instances within the At this time tab! Contrarily to Toca Life Phrase and League of Legends, Marvel Future Revolution was not probably the most featured sport compared to its opponents. We really see that Roblox was (by far) probably the most featured app among the many sport’s essential opponents!

Pattern of the 12 months 2021: Connection

Canva and Peanut had been each nominated for the App Store’s Pattern of the 12 months: “Connection.” Respectively, the apps ranked #13 within the iPhone’s Picture & Video class and #148 within the Way of life class. Previous to the announcement, Canva was featured round 5 instances per week whereas its opponents weren’t featured on the App Store. On common, Peanut was featured 25 instances per week.

What do the App Store Award Winners 2021 have in widespread?

Now that now we have briefly introduced a number of the App Store’s award-winning apps and video games, we’ll sum up a few of their key similarities:

All of the awarded apps and video games rank inside the high 200 of their main classes. Extra particularly, aside from Peanut and MARVEL Future Revolution, all of the awarded apps and video games ranked within the high 15 positions of their class earlier than the winners had been introduced. Curiously, out of the 15 award-winners, solely 2 had been paid apps (LumaFusion and Myst).

Secondly, all of the awarded apps and video games had been featured by Apple quite a few instances within the 90 days earlier than the awards announcement. Apart from MARVEL Future Revolution, all of the awarded apps had earned probably the most featurings from Apple in comparison with their direct opponents.

Uncovering award-winning App Store Optimization methods

How nicely these award-winning apps and video games carried out on the App Store is one factor, however what can we be taught from their ASO methods? On this part, we’ll check out ASO greatest practices adopted (or not) by the winners of Apple’s App Store Awards.

App and Sport of the 12 months 2021 (iPhone)

The two winners of the iPhone award each carried out key phrase optimization. Certainly, the 2 video games not solely relied on their model names or model consciousness to drive downloads, however additionally they added related generic key phrases to their title or subtitle to seize further site visitors.

Each video games additionally determined to implement an app preview video on their product pages, aiming to showcase actual gameplay and a number of the video games’ essential characters. It is usually fascinating to notice that each video games selected to symbolize one widespread sport character of their icons.

Shifting on to screenshots, we see that each apps have accomplished extraordinarily nicely relating to their creatives—they each incorporate tremendous well-designed screenshots that entice the eyes and show catchy captions. The captions comply with greatest practices nicely, as they don’t seem to be too lengthy and simple on the eyes (good distinction, font measurement, and many others). Toca Life World’s captions focus extra on the options and gameplay, whereas League of Legends doesn’t clarify the gameplay, focusing extra on the customers’ emotions in its captions.

Moreover, the two video games use panorama screenshots, which is certainly the best alternative because the video games are performed in panorama mode. Each apps additionally comply with greatest practices of screenshot optimization, placing emphasis on the video games’ essential characters. The notable distinction is that League of Legends’ screenshots don’t actually present what the gameplay is about, whereas that is well-defined in Toca Life World’s screenshots.

Lastly, taking a look at how customers understand the app, we see that Toca Life World has an infinite quantity of scores (189k) whereas League of Legends has fewer scores (24.4k); nonetheless, each video games have a very good common ranking (4.3 and 4.2 respectively)!

App and Sport of the 12 months 2021 (iPad)

Marvel Future Revolution and LumaFusion have less-optimized key phrase alternatives than the two earlier video games we analyzed. Specifically, MARVEL’s title and subtitle lack related generic key phrases that might drive some site visitors to the sport. Then again, LumaFusion has a well-optimized subtitle however leaves a missed alternative in its app identify; its App Store title solely consists of the app’s model identify and leaves 20 characters out there that could possibly be used to implement related generic key phrases.

Each apps have additionally determined to implement an app preview on their App Store pages. Each movies purpose to indicate the in-app options and gameplay, which is very the case for LumaFusion for which the app preview is a recording of somebody utilizing completely different app options.

MARVEL Future Revolution has well-designed screenshots, with the primary 2 highlighting new in-game options. The subsequent screenshots and captions give us a terrific concept of what to anticipate from the sport (interface and gameplay). In addition they put emphasis on well-known Marvel characters.

Then again, LumaFusion retains the identical technique as its app preview video, incorporating screenshots which might be taken immediately from the app and that reveal loads of the out there in-app options. LumaFusion doesn’t pay a lot consideration to design—as an illustration, there aren’t any backgrounds, pop-ups, or captions—which isn’t widespread on this class (all of the app’s direct opponents have extra embellished screenshots).

Once more, each apps have determined to make use of landscapes screenshots. Curiously, LumaFusion tailored its screenshots from the iPhone model of the app to showcase portrait screenshots of the in-app person expertise, taken from an iPhone. In case your app’s interface and options differ between its iPad and iPhone variations, we suggest you adapt your App Store screenshots accordingly.

Each apps have a very good quantity of scores (40k for Marvel, 19k for LumaFusion), however extra importantly, each apps have very excessive common scores (4.7 and 4.8).


High trending apps 2021 for the theme “Connection”

Lastly, let’s take a look on the ASO methods of two apps that had been awarded “high trending apps” of 2021. These two apps have well-optimized key phrase alternatives of their title and subtitle: Along with their model names, each apps incorporate chosen related phrases that may drive further site visitors by generic key phrases to their app. After all, Peanuts’ key phrase choice is extra particular by nature.

We see 2 completely different methods when wanting on the icons of those 2 apps. Whereas Canva has determined to incorporate its model identify in its icon, Peanut has chosen to symbolize the type of a peanut in its icon. The design of this peanut, a steady line on a purple background, helps to transmit the emotional social feeling of sharing and connecting to Store guests.

Surprisingly for a design app, Canva’s screenshots are barely much less enticing than the opposite awarded apps and video games. Canva’s screenshots wouldn’t have a background coloration; the caption font shouldn’t be eye-catching, and there’s a surcharge of data to soak up (we suggest solely highlighting 1 function per screenshot). Though the captions’ design could possibly be improved, the messaging is concise and emphasizes a number of the app’s key options. Moreover, it’s fascinating to notice that Canva makes use of a completely completely different set of screenshots for the app’s iPad model.

Then again, Peanut’s screenshots completely comply with ASO greatest practices. It exhibits an fascinating combine—some screenshots are taken in-app and properly spotlight the app’s options, some are lovely mock-ups that focus extra on the way in which customers would possibly really feel when utilizing Peanut. The captions are nice calls-to-action, concise, and entice the eyes.

With a 4.9 common ranking out of 880k scores, Canva’s common ranking could also be a aim for each app on the App Store. Due to its area of interest market, Peanut, then again, has method fewer scores (5k) however nonetheless has a fairly good common ranking (4.3).

Lastly, it’s fascinating to see that MARVEL Future Revolution, Canva, and LumaFusion dedicate a whole lot of effort to reply (most of) the critiques which might be left for his or her apps. Contemplating that these 3 apps are these with the very best common ranking among the many App Store Award winners, we strongly suggest replying to the utmost quantity of app critiques doable!

Key takeaways from the App Store Award winners

To conclude this text, we’ll now sum up some key insights we will be taught from the ASO methods of the App Store Award winners 2021.

Key phrase optimization

Nearly all of the awarded apps don’t solely depend on their model consciousness to drive downloads—additionally they attempt to seize further site visitors by implementing generic key phrases inside their titles or subtitles. Nonetheless, when optimizing your key phrases, you must all the time take note of keep away from key phrase stuffing. Each key phrase that you simply implement in your metadata ought to be related for any person that lands in your product web page.

Inventive optimization

Whereas we noticed completely different methods for icons carried out throughout apps (model identify, essential character, or stylized icons), all of the apps and video games share comparable greatest practices for the screenshots displayed on their App Store pages. Specifically, award-winning apps and video games showcase the apps’ essential options and/or characters all through the screenshots, use catchy captions written in a well-visible font, and have a uniformized design throughout all of the screenshots.

Critiques & scores

All of the rewarded apps have a mean ranking increased than 4.2. There isn’t a magic trick to drastically enhance your scores, however there are methods to favor optimistic critiques out of your customers. A few of these methods embrace fastidiously timing once you ask your customers to price your app or sport, or answering as many critiques as doable.


We noticed that each analyzed app has been featured on the App Store quite a few instances. We propose you strive your greatest to get featured by Apple—one method to improve your possibilities of that is to set up a robust storyline about your app and submit it to Apple’s Editors for consideration.

Having gone by the very best practices shared by the award-winners of the App Store Awards 2021, it’s now your time to maximise your possibilities of being the very best app/sport on the App Store in 2022!



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