Developers had a busy year. Though some tried to claim that 2016 was the year apps were dying, the App Store saw some of its biggest changes â and its biggest hits â yet.Â
From PokÃ©mon Go to chatbots and all the apps that helped us take better selfies, the app world showed it could still surprise us this year, even finding fresh, compelling takes on old categories like photo filters and social networking.
Here are the iPhone apps we’re most happy to have welcomed to our home screens in 2016.Â
Digit takes the pain out of saving money by automating the process for you. Connect the app to your bank account and it learns your spending habits over time. As it does, it quietly withdraws money based on your spending and puts it aside for you. You can dip into your savings whenever you need and the app helps you track your daily spending and monitor account balances.
Think of Google’s new travel app as your offline travel agent. The app scans your email to find information about past and future trips and organizes all your reservations and travel details into custom itineraries complete with personalized suggestions on attractions to visit and places to stay. The best, part, though is that you can download all the details you need before you go so you don’t have to worry about losing a Wi-Fi connection once you get there. Â
From the creators of Meerkat (RIP), Houseparty is a group video chat app that may not make a lot of sense to you unless you’re under 25. Still, the app has amassed a large user base thanks to its simple and spontaneous approach to enabling group video calls. Â
2016 was the year that “bot” entered the popular lexicon as seemingly every major tech company made some sort of chatbot. But while most have been disappointing, Marsbot, which uses Foursquare’s deep database of location info, is much more useful than gimmicky. The app keeps track of your location and messages you recommendations based on where you go and what you like. Yes, some may find the always-on location sharing a bit disconcerting, but it’s also what makes its suggestions so accurate.
The fact that Apple’s Live Photos still don’t play nice with many other platforms makes the feature easy to ignore. Google’s Motion Stills helps make them useful again with an app that easily converts Live Photos into videos or GIFs.
No doubt buoyed by the success of Snapchat’s selfie lenses and face-swapping, MSQRD quickly became a huge hit with its own take on “live filters” and face swapping. The app boasts way more effects than Snapchat so you don’t have to cycle through the same “masks” day after day. It didn’t take long before Facebook snapped it up for its own apps.Â
The fact that MuseCam supports RAW photo capture with manual controls alone would be enough to make us love MuseCam but the app also sets itself apart with its beautiful presets that put Instagram’s filters to shame. It also has a solid set of professional-feeling editing tools and it doesn’t compress your image when you’re done.
Created by one of the cofounders of Vine, Peach captured our attention with its unique “magic word”-centered approach to social sharing. The app was sort of a weird mashup of Slack meets Twitter meets messaging and the Internet loved it all the same. The furor has since died down but Peach earns itself a spot on this list for accomplishing the Herculean task of coming up with a unique social app in 2016.Â
Who doesn’t have old family photos lying around somewhere. Google’s PhotoScan makes it dead-simple to convert old printed photos into digital images you can preserve and share in Google Photos. The app even makes some basic adjustments for you so the scanned images look their best.Â
Arguably the app of the year, PokÃ©mon Go blasted into the App Store and quickly broke just about every record (and may have helped Apple set a few ones.) The game capitalized on PokÃ©mon nostalgia and introduced many players to augmented reality. Excitement around the game has since cooled off but the app remains one of the biggest hits of the year.
There are many photo apps that specialize in heavily stylized filters, yet few stand out. Prisma caught the attention of iPhone photographers around the world with its art-inspired filters for photos and videos. The filters, based on real-world works of art, make even the most mundane photos look cool. Even cooler still is the artificial intelligence tech that works behind the scenes to make the filters possible.Â
Proof that sometimes a new spin on an old classic can be just what we need, Slither.io rocketed to the top of the App Store charts with its Snake-inspired game. Players compete simultaneously as they try to eat enough to grow bigger while staying out of everyone else’s way. The fact that all players compete at the same time only makes its more competitive â and endlessly addicting.