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These developers are doing something amazing with iPhone and iPad apps

Apple App Store Awards 2023 logo.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Every year, Apple announces the winners of its App Store Awards. In 2023, it recognized 14 titles across five platforms: iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. These titles are not only considered the “best” from a design standpoint, but they have also positively contributed to the world in some way.

Recently, I had the privilege of meeting with the teams behind three of these award-winning apps. At first glance, AllTrails, Prêt-à-Makeup, and Pok Pok may seem vastly different, but as I discovered, they all have at least one thing in common: inclusivity. Each also looks pretty sweet on an iPhone 15, iPad Air, and other Apple devices.

Inclusivity is not just a buzzword for these apps — it’s a core value reflected in every aspect of their design and development. From the user interface to the content and features, these apps are designed to be accessible and welcoming to everyone. And that’s what sets them apart from the countless other apps vying for our attention in the crowded app marketplace.

AllTrails, iPhone App of the Year

Alltrails, iPhone app of the year.
Alltrails

AllTrails may seem like just another fitness app at first glance, but it has evolved to become much more. Initially a website for hikers to share trails, it is now a mobile app used by over 60 million people in 191 countries. In the past year, the number of users has doubled, and over 420,000 trails are now available on the app — even in Antarctica.

The team behind AllTrails believes that everyone can benefit from being outdoors. As such, the app includes trails for users of all backgrounds and skill levels, making it accessible to anyone.

According to CEO Ron Schneidermann and CPO Ivan Selin, AllTrails is not just a fitness app — it’s one that focuses on holistic health and community.

Recently, the app has added some exciting new features, including 3D immersive video trail previews to give users a better sense of the route, terrain, and elevation. The app now also provides real-time advanced conditions, including temperature, mosquito index, and predictive conditions based on recent and historical weather data. There are also more than 200 national park guides available across eight countries.

This year, the app has also added stats and achievements so users can celebrate their time outside. And iOS Live Activities functionality is set to arrive soon.

According to Schneidermann, AllTrails’ recent success can be attributed to the end of the pandemic, which made people feel lonely. As such, people are now getting out more to explore the world around them. Selin says the App Store Award is validation that the iPhone maker recognizes the importance of AllTrail’s mission.

Selin explained to Apple: “AllTrails is honored to receive this recognition. It’s a testament to our commitment to designing innovative products that help people connect with the outdoors. We are excited to be able to positively impact people’s lives and look forward to bringing even more delightful experiences to our community in 2024.”

Prêt-à-Makeup, iPad App of the Year

Prêt-à-Makeup app for iPad.
Prêt-à-Template

Just to be clear, using Pret-a-Makeup, the iPad App of the Year, won’t improve your health. However, if you are a makeup artist or aspiring to become one, this app can be an excellent tool for creating realistic makeup looks. The app encourages inclusivity and self-expression, making it a unique and valuable addition to the beauty industry.

Pret-a-Makeup is an innovative makeup app designed for iPad or iPhone users. Developed by a team of 13 professionals based in Brazil, it allows makeup artists to test, plan, or register a look without needing actual makeup. With over 700 beauty products and 40 face templates available in 40 styles, the app provides users with a wide range of options.

During my meeting with the Pret-a-Makeup team, I wondered if the app provides a realistic experience. Although I am not a makeup expert, I have learned that makeup is designed for people of various backgrounds just by spending time in Sephora and Ulta with my teenage daughter. Surprisingly, the app does provide a realistic experience, which impressed me.

To begin each makeup session, users can choose a model from the digital sketchbook, which includes sketches of people from various ethnic backgrounds. The app’s library offers more diversity, making it a popular choice among users. The app is available in 12 different languages and has been downloaded over 5 million times in 170 countries.

Each brush stroke responds to light movement and face shapes as you continue, providing a real sketching experience using your finger, stylus pen, or Apple Pencil. The Ring Light feature is the most exciting one I’ve seen on an app in recent years.

Looking ahead to 2024, co-founder and illustrator Roberta Weiand has revealed that a new UX is coming next year. We can’t wait to see how the new look will enhance the app in the coming months.

Pok Pok, Cultural Impact winner

Pok Pok app on iPad.
Pok Pok

Pok Pok is a game available on the iPhone and iPad that has been selected as one of the year’s five App Store Cultural Impact winners. The game takes inspiration from a living room floor filled with toys. It offers a digital playroom with various creative activities that encourage kids to learn, explore, and experiment through play.

The app currently includes 16 Montessori-inspired digital toys for preschoolers from diverse backgrounds and abilities. The game has no ads or rules and no language barriers, making it accessible to people worldwide.

According to Pok Pok’s co-founders, Melissa Cash and Esther Huybreghts, their app is appropriate for children ages 2 to 7 and encourages out-of-the-box thinking. They believe that the app was selected for an App Design Award because it stands out from other apps in the market. It also promotes inclusive representation to ensure that everyone feels included while playing.

One of the things that stood out to me when briefly looking at the app is that all the sounds for the app are hand-recorded. This winter, Pok Pok is expected to receive a significant winter update.

Other winners of the App Store Awards include Photomator (Mac App of the Year), MUBI (Apple TV App of the Year), and SmartGym (Apple Watch App of the Year). Among the game winners are Honkai: Star Rail (iPhone Game of the Year), Lost in Play (iPad Game of the Year), Lies of P (Mac Game of the Year), and Hello Kitty Island Adventure (Apple Arcade Game of the Year).

In addition, four other winners were recognized with the Culture Impact award, including Proloquo, Too Good To Go, Unpacking, and Finding Hannah.

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Bryan M. Wolfe
Bryan M. Wolfe has over a decade of experience as a technology writer. He writes about mobile.
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