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Apple awarded its yearly “best of” picks for the roughly 700,000 iPhone and iPad apps in iTunes, and this year’s crop of winners is a bit of a departure from last year, showing the growing sophistication of the kinds of apps developers are bringing to Apple’s platform. Nowhere to be seen in Apple’s 2012 Editor’s Choice awards this year was a photo or social networking app. Instead, the top iPhone app of the year was Action Movie FX, which adds Hollywood type effects to iPhone videos. The top iPad app of the year is Paper, a productivity and journaling app.
Because the App Store is predominantly filled with games, Apple awards a separate category of Editor’s Choice for Game of the Year: for iPhone it’s Rayman Jungle Run, and for iPad, The Room. Runners up in both app and game of the year on iPhone were Propellerhead and Letterpress; on iPad, Waking Mars and Action Movie FX, which snagged another nod.
What is apparent in all the selections is how Apple values excellent design and apps that show off its platform’s strengths. Paper, for instance, was widely regarded as a beautifully made app the moment it launched. It was particularly well received likely because of how it took advantage of the iPad’s notebook-sized screen, and gesture-based touch interface. Similarly, Action Movie FX takes one of the iPhone’s core features — the camera — and lets users get creative with their video.
In addition to picking their favorites, Apple also released the awards for best-selling and most-downloaded apps of the year.
A glance at the most downloaded lists gives a good sense of what kinds of apps are most used and valued on Apple’s platform. Of the top 20 most downloaded paid iPad apps, 12 were games, six were productivity apps, and two were photo/video apps (Apple’s own iPhoto and iMovie). The top 20 for paid iPhone apps was a bit more diverse: again, it’s mostly games (13), but there were also two utilities, a messaging app (Whatsapp), one photo app (Camera+), a lifestyle app (Pimp Your Screen), a music app (Free Music Download Pro) and a health app (Sleep Cycle).
For the full list of winners, head over to iTunes.