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The best apps and games of 2020, according to Apple

CNET logo CNET 12/11/2020 Alison DeNisco Rayome
a close up of a screen of a cell phone: Patrick Holland/CNET © Provided by CNET Patrick Holland/CNET

Last week, Apple  unveiled its App Store Best of 2020 winners, the top apps and games chosen by editors each year. This year's selections come with a theme: The apps and games that helped make life easier, healthier and more connected during a year unlike any other in recent history. 

"This year, more than ever before, some of our most creative and connected moments happened in apps," said Apple Fellow Phil Schiller in a release. "Around the world, we saw remarkable efforts from so many developers, and these Best of 2020 winners are 15 outstanding examples of that innovation. From helping us stay fit and mindful, to keeping our children's education on track, to helping fight hunger, their impact was meaningful to so many of us."

Read more: Apple One subscription bundle: Here's everything included and how to sign up today

The iPhone app of the year, Wakeout!, gives you 30-second bursts of movement and exercise tailored to your home, office, car or local park. Use everything from your pillows to pots and pans to outdoor benches to your desk to avoid being too sedentary now that many of us are spending more time at home. Search the library of more than 1,000 location-specific movements and filter by mood (energizing, relaxing, intense or fun) and by length. Wakeout! is free to download and try for one week, but after that you'll need to subscribe for $5 a month or $35 a year. You can add up to five people to your subscription for no additional cost. 

a close up of a cell phone © Patrick Holland/CNET

Zoom was named Apple's iPad app of the year, which comes as no surprise: The video chat platform grew from 10 million daily meeting participants in December to more than 300 million in April, and became one of the most popular ways to connect with friends, family and colleagues during the pandemic (check out our tips for using Zoom here). 

Apple named Disney Plus the Apple TV app of the year, likely in part due to its catalog of family-friendly shows and movies, the addition of a GroupWatch feature, and, I have to imagine, giving us more Baby Yoda with season 2 of The Mandalorian

The best games of the year chosen by Apple editors -- Genshin Impact for iPhone, Legends of Runeterra for iPad, Disco Elysium for Mac, Dandara Trials of Fear for Apple TV and Sneaky Sasquatch for Apple Arcade -- also reflect themes of virtual connection, learning and exploring new worlds. 

Fantastical, the Mac app of the year, aims to make your life easier by syncing all of your calendars and notifications into one place. The Apple Watch app of the year, Endel, syncs with Apple Health to tailor soundscapes to the current state of your body and immediate environment, using factors like your heart rate and the local weather to give you a soothing sound.

Grandparents can use the Caribu app to video chat and read stories to their grandchildren. Caribu © Provided by CNET Grandparents can use the Caribu app to video chat and read stories to their grandchildren. Caribu

Apple also gave five apps a Best of 2020 award for how they made a difference during this unusual year. 

For grandparents and relatives who aren't able to visit the children in their lives in person, Caribu is an interactive video chat app that lets you read books, play games and color together virtually to stay connected. Pokemon Go reinvented its popular outdoor gameplay with more at-home experiences, including a virtual GO Fest in July where millions of participants walked an average of 15 km (more than nine miles) each over the course of a weekend. 

For students whose classrooms moved to their homes, the Explain Everything digital whiteboard app offered a cloud-based collaboration tool so groups of students could continue to work together remotely. The United Nations World Food Programme's ShareTheMeal app made it easy for people to donate to provide food assistance during emergencies worldwide, with more than 87 million meals shared to date. And the Shine app for daily self-care launched a new section dedicated to the intersectionality of mental health and Black lives. 

Most downloaded apps of 2020

Beyond the App Store editorial picks, Apple also released the most downloaded apps and games for iPhone and iPad, both free and paid. 

Zoom was the top downloaded free app for both iPhone and iPad. It was followed by TikTok and Disney Plus for iPhone, and Disney Plus and YouTube for iPad. 

The top paid iPhone apps were TouchRetouch, Procreate Pocket and Dark Sky Weather, while the top paid iPad apps were Procreate, GoodNotes and Notability. 

Among Us was the most-downloaded free game for both iPhone and iPad, while Minecraft was the most-downloaded paid game for both devices. 

Here are the full lists of the top 10 most downloaded free and paid apps and games for iPhone, iPad and Apple Arcade

Top free iPhone apps

  1. Zoom Cloud Meetings
  2. TikTok
  3. Disney Plus
  4. YouTube
  5. Instagram
  6. Facebook
  7. Snapchat
  8. Messenger
  9. Gmail
  10. Cash App

Top paid iPhone apps

  1. TouchRetouch
  2. Procreate Pocket
  3. Dark Sky Weather
  4. Facetune
  5. HotSchedules
  6. AutoSleep Track Sleep
  7. The Wonder Weeks
  8. SkyView
  9. Shadowrocket
  10. Sky Guide

Top free iPhone games

  1. Among Us
  2. Call of Duty: Mobile
  3. Roblox
  4. Subway Surfers
  5. Ink Inc. - Tattoo Drawing
  6. Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game
  7. Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles
  8. Brain Out
  9. Coin Master
  10. Cube Surfer!

Top paid iPhone games

  1. Minecraft
  2. Plague Inc.
  3. Heads Up!
  4. Monopoly
  5. Bloons TD6
  6. Geometry Dash
  7. NBA 2K20
  8. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  9. The Game of Life
  10. True Skate

Top free iPad apps

  1. Zoom Cloud Meetings
  2. Disney Plus
  3. YouTube
  4. Netflix
  5. Google Chrome
  6. TikTok
  7. Amazon Prime Video
  8. Gmail
  9. Hulu
  10. Google Classroom

Top paid iPad apps

  1. Procreate
  2. GoodNotes 5
  3. Notability
  4. Duet Display
  5. Teach Your Monster
  6. LumaFusion
  7. Affinity Designer
  8. Toca Hair Salon 3
  9. Toca Life: Hospital
  10. Toca Kitchen 2

Top free iPad games

  1. Among Us
  2. Roblox
  3. Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game
  4. Ink Inc. - Tattoo Drawing
  5. Call of Duty: Mobile
  6. Subway Surfers
  7. Dancing Road: Color Ball Run!
  8. Tiles Hop - EDM Rush
  9. Mario Kart Tour
  10. Save The Girl!

Top paid iPad games

  1. Minecraft
  2. Monopoly
  3. Bloons TD 6
  4. Plague Inc.
  5. Geometry Dash
  6. The Game of Life
  7. Five Nights at Freddy's
  8. Human: Fall Flat
  9. Stardew Valley
  10. Terraria

Top Apple Arcade games

  1. Sneaky Sasquatch
  2. Hot Lava
  3. Skate City
  4. Sonic Racing
  5. Pac-Man Party Royale
  6. SpongeBob: Patty Pursuit
  7. Oceanhorn 2
  8. Crossy Road Castle
  9. What the Golf?
  10. Lego Brawls

For more, check out Google Play's list of the best apps and games of 2020

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