Apple's best of 2013 lists are in, with language-learning app Duolingo and game Ridiculous Fishing leading the charge.
Apple's iTunes App Store has had an incredible year. In May, it hit its 50 billionth app download — doubling in just 14 months from the 25 billion it hit in March 2012, a number that took four years to accrue. As of October, there have been 60 billion downloads.
Just this year alone, over 20 billion apps have been downloaded, and the number of apps in the store has increased from 775,000 to over a million. The store has also seen 575 million new accounts created, and developers have made over US$11 billion in revenue (that's not including Apple's percentage).
The top three games Apple deemed the best of the year for iPhone — the winner and two runners-up — were from independent developers.
Game of the year is non other than Vlambeer's insane epic, Ridiculous Fishing, a deeply moving tale about a fisherman searching the seas for his lost dad (and shooting a lot of fish in the process). When it launched in March, we spent way too many hours plumbing its colourful, polygonal depths and enjoying the sheer craziness of the concept.
Simogo's Device 6 and Australian studio Uppercut Games' Epoch 2 took out the runners-up prizes.
Device 6 is an interactive text adventure unlike anything we'd ever played before. The text, flowing around corners and upside-down, tells the story of a young lady waking up in a mysterious castle. You have to think well beyond the text to solve the puzzles — collecting clues from sounds, pictures and other elements to solve the puzzles.
Epoch 2 is an amazing achievement for a studio that, two years ago, consisted of three guys in Queanbeyan. Following on from its debut hit, Epoch, it's a third-person cover-based shooter that is one of the best implementations we've seen to date of touchscreen controls — along with a fascinating story and some stellar art. Ed Orman of Uppercut told us, "We're amazed to find ourselves on Apple's Best Of 2013 list with Epoch 2! With so many great indie games this year, it's fantastic that our small studio can make something that stands out." (Our full write-up of the game is here.)
On iPad, independent developer Frogmind's side-scrolling puzzle platformer Badland swept Game of the Year, with 2K Games' XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a reboot of the 1994 title UFO: Enemy Unknown, and Electronic Arts' Real Racing 3 in the runner-up spots.
For App of the year, Duolingo took the iPhone prize: a simple, easy-to-use language-learning app that uses mini-games to teach you Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and English. Exercises help you retain what you've learned, and you can start from the very basics of vocabulary and work your way into more complex grammar.
The iPad prize was awarded to Disney Animated, an in-depth exploration of the history of Disney and its animation techniques, built by The Elements creator Theodore Gray.
Free photography app VSCO Cam and healthy lifestyle cooking app The Whole Pantry came in as iPhone runners-up. Music app Traktor DJ and art app Procreate (which you might remember from that amazing Morgan Freeman portrait) were the runners-up for iPad.
As for the most popular apps? Well, unsurprisingly, these are games. The most downloaded paid app for 2013 was Mojang's Minecraft — Pocket Edition. The most downloaded free app will surprise no one: King's Candy Crush Saga.
Click here to view Apple's full best of 2013 lists, including music, books, movies, TV shows and podcasts.