Skip to main content

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.

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.

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Kyle Wiggers
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kyle Wiggers is a writer, Web designer, and podcaster with an acute interest in all things tech. When not reviewing gadgets…
Google Play Store helps find the apps invading your privacy
Instagram app on the Google Play Store on an Android smartphone.

Google has implemented a feature that requires app makers to disclose what data their apps are taking from users. Starting today, Android users will be able to see specific information about their apps' data collection through the Google Play Store. The data is accessible in the Play Store via the "Data Safety" tab listed in the information section for all apps.

With Google's announcement that the feature's rollout is live, the company notes that not all apps will be showing what privacy data they collect immediately. App makers have until July 20, 2022, to provide the Play Store with privacy information, making the feature something of a gradual rollout. It's likely that apps that take more types of data (like social media apps) will take longer to post the required info due to the sheer number of data points they collect when compared to something simpler such as an offline game.

Read more
Google ditches Play Movies app in favor of Google TV
aftermaster pro fixes tv movie audio issues man on couch watches a mobile phone

The Google TV app is taking over for Play Movies & TV across all Android devices. When Google TV was introduced in late 2020, its mission to replace Play Movies & TV seemed like a good idea as the preinstalled app wasn't doing a lot to take users' attention away from other streaming apps. Google TV's addition to the Android ecosystem has been pretty gradual up to this point, but now it's set to be an essential part of the Android experience.

Play Movies & TV will be officially retired as the face of Android's streaming content store in favor of Google TV starting in May. At that point, buying content on Play Movies & TV will no longer be supported in the Play Store, Google announced earlier this week. Google TV will take Play Movies & TV's place as the preinstalled streaming app included by default on every Android device at that point.

Read more
Google Play is helping developers meet gamers where they are
Image of Google Play game running on a Windows PC.

Google Play is setting the stage for a big year of growth in mobile and cross-platform gaming, with several new initiatives to help and encourage developers to build even more exciting and engaging gaming experiences.

The increased power of modern smartphones as gaming powerhouses has allowed for the creation of more sophisticated mobile games, many of which can easily be called “console-quality.” However, this has also given rise to more demand from players to be able to enjoy these gaming experiences on a larger screen.

Read more