2017 Google Play Award winners excel in design, functionality, delightfulness

play store notifications google
Christian de Looper/Digital Trends
Last year, Google hosted its inaugural Google Play Awards at Google I/O, its annual developer conference in Mountain View, California, during which it crowned the year’s best Play Store games and apps. And this year, it announced the winners of the second annual competition at an gala on Thursday evening.

The competition was fierce. The contenders were broken out over 12 categories, and had to adhere to a set of criteria for consideration. All had to have high user ratings, pass Google’s bars for technical performance, and have received an update or been launched since April of last year.

Memrise took home the Best App category, thanks to a “beautiful design,” “intuitive [interface]” and “high user appeal.” The judging panel was especially impressed by its creativity — users are tasked with “duping enemy agents” in a “distant Universe” by demonstrating mastery of languages including French, Spanish, German, English, Chinese, Japanese, and more.

google 2017 play awards 1481400992 1481399195381

The Best Game award went to Transformers: Forged to Fight by Kabam, which won Google’s judges over with “strong mechanics,” “stellar graphics,” “strong engagement,” and “retention tactics.”

In the Standout Indie category, Mushroom 11 took the crown for “artistic design,” “gameplay mechanics,” and “overall polish.” A combination of intuitive touch controls, challenging puzzles, eerily beautiful visuals, and ethereal electronica music by The Future Sound of London sealed the deal.

The Standout Startup category went to Hooked by Telepathic, which “offers a unique experience” while “achieving strong organic install growth.” The Google team was impressed by the app’s innovative method of storytelling — spooky thrillers unfold message by message over a series of texts.

best android apps

Runtastic got the Best Android Wear Experience award — Google praised its “great design,” ability to “delight,” and “functionality.” The judging panel lavished special praise on its robust activity tracking, audio coach, leaderboard features, built-in music player, and integration with Google’s Fit platform.

The Best VR Experience award went to Virtual Virtual Reality by Tender Claws, which Google’s judges called “highly immersive.” The inventive title, which runs on Google’s Daydream VR platform, tasks players with tasks like jumping between realities and “vacuuming up” worlds.

WOORLD by Funomena won the Best AR Experience. Its “creative” and “imaginative” technology, pioneered with the help of Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi, was one of the most effective uses of Googles’s depth-sensing, spatial-tracking Tango technology in Google Play, the judging panel said.

google 2017 play awards redbull design sports r31

Red Bull TV won the best TV Experience for its “large-screen format” and “intuitive experience.” Google noted that the it adhered closely to Android’s style guideline, and made especially good use of Android TV’s built-in search functions.

The competition’s other winners included ShareTheMeal by the United Nations, which won Best Social Impact for affecting “meaningful” social change for “people around the world”; IFTTT, which took home the Best Accessibility Experience award for “[serving] people with disabilities” and “special needs”; Animal Jam by WildWorks, which won Best App for Kids for encouraging “creativity,” “exploration,” and “education”; and Blizzard’s Hearthstone trading card game, which won the Best Multiplayer Award.

The Google Play store is a big deal — it’s the primary way the more than 2 billion Android users around the world find and update apps and games. It’s estimated to generate more than $3.3 billion in revenue annually, and Google said that over the past year alone, more than 85 billion apps and gamest were downloaded on Google Play.

Mobile

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best cheap phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget smartphones.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

The seven best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2018.
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2018

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for November 2018

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Deals

Bigger than Black Friday: Don’t miss the best Single’s Day deals

Thanks to AliExpress, Single's Day – the world's largest retail day – is no longer a foreign affair. If you're ready to do some early holiday shopping or want to score some discounts ahead of Black Friday, we've rounded up some of the…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Our favorite ebook reader is not a Kindle. Here are all the best options

If you're a bookworm, an ebook reader can be an important part of your life, one that allows you to read your books whenever and wherever you like. But which should you get? Here are five of the best ebook readers available.
Mobile

Samsung made a $2,700 flip phone with the brains of a smartphone

The Samsung W2019 is a high-end flip phone that comes with flagship specifications such as 6GB of RAM and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845. The device features a pair of S-AMOLED displays, a dual rear camera setup, and an eye-popping price tag.
Mobile

Google, Samsung, OnePlus, and Huawei face off in an Android battle royale

The good news is that there are some great options in the Android smartphone market right now. The bad news is that too much choice makes it tough to decide. We compare the Pixel 3 XL, the Galaxy Note 9, the OnePlus 6T, and the Mate 20 Pro.
Product Review

It's so fast it has a clip-on fan. But the Asus ROG phone isn't just for gamers

Is a gaming smartphone only something a mobile gamer should consider buying? In the case of the Asus ROG Phone, the good news is the device is so capable, and a genuinely impressive all-rounder, that everyone should take a closer look…
Mobile

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.
Mobile

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.