The end of 2018 is upon us and if you didn’t download any new apps, then you’re missing out. I know — it’s sometimes surprising that 10 years into the App Store, there are still enough fresh ideas to make it worth downloading an unfamiliar name.
But, from apps that gave us new ways to edit photos and video to games we just couldn’t put down, developers still managed to find new ways to surprise and delight us in 2018.
Here’s a look back at some of our favorites. We’ve listed the download links and prices, but as always take “free” with a grain of salt since most apps these days rely on subscriptions and in-app purchases to make money.
1. Adobe Premiere Rush CC
You’d be hard-pressed to find an app that does a better job at editing video on the go than Adobe Premiere Rush. The app handles multiple clips with ease and makes it easy to adjust just about anything you’d expect from a professional video editor without making things overly complicated. And contrary to what you might think, you don’t need the desktop version to use the mobile app, but if you have it, all your works will sync across devices so you can pick up wherever you left off.
2. Alto’s Odyssey
2018 saw the return of one of our favorite mobile game heroes with Alto’s Odyssey, the long-awaited sequel to 2015’s Alto’s Adventure. Despite the long wait, the new game is every bit as enchanting as the original. It keeps the same cast of characters but adds in new tricks and and manages to accomplish what so few sequels can: keeping the magic of the original while adding enough new elements that it doesn’t just feel like another tired reboot.
3. Asphalt 9 Legends
You’ve probably played arcade-style racing games before, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one as good as Asphalt 9 Legends. With easy-to-master controls and a lineup that’s surprisingly realistic, it’s impossible not to have fun drifting around the many corners of Asphalt 9‘s courses. And the graphics are so buttery-smooth, you might actually forget you’re not playing on a console.
4. Donut County
Playing a literal hole in the ground may not sound like the sexiest premise for a game, but Donut County proves otherwise. As the hole, your job is to eat up everything in sight to make it through each level. But you quickly realize there’s much more nuance to the game than simply frantically dragging your finger around your screen. There’s also a cute backstory, with its own cast of characters, and you soon realize not everything reacts to being swallowed up the same way. The game is both unexpectedly soothing and nearly impossible to put down.
5. Enlight Pixaloop
The easiest way to understand Enlight’s Pixaloop app is to check out the kinds of images it helps photographers create. The app lets you add motion to specific areas of your photos while keeping the rest of image static. It takes a bit of practice to learn how to do this effectively, but once you do the results can be truly mesmerizing.
If you’re ready to step up your Instagram videos, Filto can help you get there. The video editor lets you apply an array of filters and effects to your clips, with intuitive, dead-simple controls. You can opt for subtle filters or big, in-your-face effects, with bright pops of color and flashes of light. Once you’ve fine-tuned your look, you can easily re-size the video to your preferred aspect ratio, regardless of whether you shot it horizontally or vertically.
was already a huge hit before Epic ever released the iOS version of the battle royale game, which made $100 million in its first 90 days alone. The Android version, which came later, has been more controversial, thanks to Epic’s decision to bypass Google’s Play Store.
But Fortnite isn’t on this list just because of the records it’s smashed or because it may set a new precedent for big-name developers looking to launch without Google. It’s on this list because it’s massive, massive hit, however you must download it. And it’s an example of how to bring a console game to phones without destroying what fans loved about it in the first place.
8. Google Lens
We’ve said is before, but it’s worth repeating: Google Lens is perhaps our best look yet at the future of mobile search. Though the feature was actually introduced last year as part of Google Photos, it was released as a standalone app in June. Using your smartphone’s camera, you can search for information about what’s around you, like looking up plants, animals, and landmarks, or searching for fashion inspiration. You can also scan text to see translations, add events to your calendar, or just to make copying and pasting a little simpler.
9. Google News
There’s been an overwhelming amount of news to keep up with in 2018, and much ink has been spilled debating what responsibility tech companies have to keep their users informed (and not misinformed). But Google’s long overdue News app strikes the right balance of personalization and thoroughness, giving you the opportunity to dive deep into whatever interests you, while also showing you different perspectives.
10. Otter Voice Notes
Few things are more tedious than transcribing audio, but Otter Voice Notes proves that doesn’t have to be the case. The app uses AI to learn your voice and create astonishingly accurate transcriptions. You can also add your own notes and photos to make it even easier to revisit your past meetings and conversations.
It may not be the most user-friendly app Apple has released, but Shortcuts (formerly Workflow) marks another important milestone for Siri. The app, which debuted as part of iOS 12, makes Siri compatible with many more apps. Shortcuts lets you create custom Siri commands for the stuff you use apps for every day. And, if you want to get more advanced, you can create a single command to automate actions across several apps.