The past year brought some amazing new apps into the world. All of these apps came into our lives less than twelve months ago, but it’s hard to imagine how we ever lived without them. From apps that re-imagined the notebook for the digital age to ones that kept us on task over the course of the day, there are some real routine changers out there that we’re glad we were introduced to this year. Here are our favorite apps and games to come out in 2012.

Figure (iOS)

Ever been walking and seen a street performer acting as a one man band, playing multiple instruments at the same time? Next time you do, throw a dollar in his bucket and tell him to download Figure. This iOS app came on the scene to give anyone the ability to make music. With a few minutes and a couple tabs, you’ll be able to create impressively unique and complex beats no matter where you are. It’s music making made easy.

Sparrow (iPhone)

If you spent all of 2012 looking for an email app to replace the disappointing offerings from the big names in mobile apps, then we hope you stumbled along Sparrow at some point. The feature-rich email client that had made a solid impression on Mac users made its mobile debut this year, giving people on the go more control over their inbox than ever before. Intuitive navigation and a layout that makes your inbox look like less of a less than it probably is, Sparrow soars.

Barefoot World Atlas (iOS)

Designed to show off the Retina display of the updated iPad, Barefoot World Atlas is a gorgeous education tool that will teach you about cultures and countries around the world in a visually appealing way. A 3D globe as densely populated with facts as the world is with people, Barefoot World Atlas is interactive, entertaining, and educating. It will probably trick you into learning some stuff when you think you’re just looking at pretty pictures.

Nokia City Lens (Windows Phone)

Though augmented reality has yet to be mastered completely, Nokia is doing its part in the process. Released in beta earlier this year and getting improvements added in throughout, Nokia City Lens offers Nokia phone users the opportunity to look at the world as if they were wearing Iron Man’s visor. Alright, it’s not quite that comprehensive. But it does allow you to take a look at the world around you and access information about them simply by holding up your phone.

Xbox SmartGlass (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 8/RT)

The gamer population in the United States as big as it’s ever been, it should come as no surprise that gaming apps are becoming more popular. In the case of Xbox SmartGlass, it’s turning your tablet into an accessory for your Xbox Live experience. No longer do you need to scroll through tiles and pound out letters one button at a time. Use Xbox SmartGlass as an extension of the console. The app acts as a remote, a keyboard, and more.

Clear (iOS)

Getting stuff done is often easier said than done but for users that discovered Clear for iOS, 2012 was likely the most productive  year they’ve had. Clear is about as accurate a name as this app can have as it lays out daily tasks in a simple, clear list. Controlled through swipes that make it easy and satisfying to check tasks off your to-do list, Clear became a clear choice in productivity helpers.

Day One (iOS)

If this past year went by with a breeze and you can barely remember any of it, then make sure you start out 2013 with Day One. Journaling seems like something of the past or an overused sitcom plot that leads to a character reading the diary of another, but Day One allows you to capture every moment to make it easy to look back on. It’s one thing to live an event, it’s another to be able to remember it in vivid detail. Day One will be your photographic memory.

Paper (iPad)

Apple showed love to Paper in its year-end picks for the best iPad apps and we have to agree with the crew in Cupertino. Paper is a really brilliant tool for artists and doodlers alike. It turns your iPad into the ultimate sketchbook and encourages creation of all kinds of awesome visual designs. Draw out a crazy portrait you’ve had in your mind or crudely draw a couple graphs. No matter what you do, it’s going to look amazing in Paper.

Viggle (iOS, Android)

With all the great shows that have cropped up on TV over the past few years, it’s impossible to not watch a little bit of television. Viggle embraces this fact and says, “Watch a little? Watch tons! We’ll give you free stuff if you do.” How can you turn down an offer like that? Check in to your favorite TV shows as you’re watching them and Viggle will reward you with points redeemable at tons of your favorite stores. You can’t go too wrong with that offer.

Nike+ Running (iOS, Android)

If you’re feeling a little guilty from all the sitting and watching TV you’re doing with Viggle, give Nike+ Running a chance. Nike has been a well-known name in fitness for quite some time now, but their entrance into the mobile app world has been recent. It’s welcome as well, as Nike+ Running is one of the best running companion apps out there. Set targets, compare your runs, track time & calories burned, and more.