The coveted ADA trophy, a sleek cube that lights up at the touch, found its way into the hands of developers who raised the bar in design, technology and innovation. The 12 winners in turn represent the best on iTunes app store for their apps launched the previous year. 

 While there are many attributes that make these apps stand out, the selection criteria are broadly based around three main areas. The first of these is the app’s design that renders familiarity for the user, consistency within itself and within the OS, and the presence of an exceptional game loop and game play. In essence, apps that are intuitive, comprehensible and instantly usable. 

From the point of innovation it is the “spark of brilliance” that sets these apps apart… it is the implementation of something completely compelling and unique that serves the difference 

the ADA 2014 winning apps

The ADA 2014 winning apps

Secondly, the selection is based around technology. That is the use of iOS or OS X framework to produce valuable functionality. In this respect, apps that launch quickly, are responsive and lives up to expectation, has smooth scrolling, runs on the latest OS, and takes advantage of the newest hardware, are attributes given due consideration. 

Lastly, from the point of innovation it is the “spark of brilliance” that sets these apps apart. While innovation can be looked at from various perspectives it is the implementation of something completely compelling and unique that serves the difference. 

Of the 12 winners the first two are students of the Apple scholarship programme. 

Student Winner

A fun and easy app that teaches single digit addition, Addimal Adventure was created with young children in mind

Addimal Adventure by Teachley LLC

A fun and easy app that teaches single digit addition, Addimal Adventure was created with young children in mind.The graduate students of Columbia University involved in cognition learning research saw the growing presence of the iPad in education, paving way for interactive methods of learning and teaching. 

Taking advantage of iOS technologies, the app uses large text combined with colourful animation to create an experience that resonates with its young audience.What is more, the app’s clever improvisation of counting on fingers is translated into a captivating gameplay to teach single digit counting. 

Aside from basic addition the app’s ‘count on’ and ‘doubles’ features offer alternate methods of addition. The App uses a basic story and intrigue to draw young users to get involved and learn through its gameplay. Addimal Adventure uses visually engaging artwork for its characters and settings, to bring to life the animation. The user must help Captain Memo and the Addimals to restore the destroyed golden city of El Sumado and save it from the sinister Professor Possum.

Student Winner

Created at a time where there was no support for panoramic images, the iOS app PanoPerfect proved to be a fun and simple way to share beautiful panoramic photos

PanoPerfect by HalfPeeled LLC and TwoBros

Created at a time wherethere was no support for panoramic images, the iOS app PanoPerfect proved to be a fun and simple way to share beautiful panoramic photos.The developers, scholarship winner Nate Chiger (HalfPeeled LLC) along with fellow scholarship winner Coulton Vento and Vento’s brother, Brandon, (TwoBros) drew inspiration for the app after seeing the iOS 6 panorama mode featured in the WWDC 2012 keynote.

What is most compelling about the app is its simplicity along with a familiar user interface that comes alive as a result of UIKit Dynamics animated effects. The app is armed with a package of functional capabilities that allow it to stand on its own and cater to a community of panorama lovers. 

Consequently PanoPerfect follows the conventions of social media in its presentation and features. Profiles can be customised with a profile picture, cover picture, username and bio, while users can find, follow and share beautiful panoramic photos with friends, enter into a stream to comment, ‘like’ and ‘favourite’ as well. Users can view photos from around the world through the Explore feed and includes a curated set of panoramas. 

The use of graphics, sound system and great integration with touch and exceptional leveraging of iOS technology are the other attributes that set this app apart from the rest 

Leo’s Fortune by 1337 and Senri LLC

In Leo’s Fortune the user must hunt down a cunning and mysterious gold thief travelling through visually captivating settings such as mossy forests, arid deserts, and snow capped mountains to uncover the secret behind Leo’s stolen fortune. 

While there are 25 levels or more to access through a familiar user interface, what is most striking about Leo’s Fortune is a high degree of attention to detail in the approach of the game.The app has gone to great lengths in terms of design and thinking to present a comprehensive and engaging onboarding experience —that is to understand how to use the app, something that many apps fall short of today. When the game starts it tells the user where to place the thumbs and how to play the game. Furthermore, coach marks, ghost images and specific instructions reveal how to overcome obstacles. 

What adds to the experience is the affects of the background settings along with perspectivesas the game commences. 

The use of graphics, sound system and great integration with touch and exceptional leveraging of iOS technology are the other attributes that set this app apart from the rest. 

Day One receives a pride of place for its exceptional design on OS X and for being exactly what it is meant to be and nothing more 

Day One by Bloom Built, LLC

An app that serves a busy lifestyle, Day One allows you to capture a moment or a thought and journal it in an instant whilst getting through a busy day. Encouraging users to ‘record your life as you live it, from everyday moments to once-in-a-lifetime events’ what is striking about the app is its elegant interphase that makes journaling a simple pleasure. 

Built for the Mac app and also available on iOS, the ADA was awarded for the Mac app version. While working on the Mac, a sudden phone call, a thought or an email may compel the user to record an idea or thought. These little triggered actions are part and parcel of journaling. Day One offers a convenient ‘menu extra’ to type into while working. The entries go into a journal and these little nuggets become the building blocks of the user’s journal. 

The user can also open the app and make an entry, add a photograph, tag it with an entry system, and add a location with the integrated map. Overtime the journal entries can be perused at leisure to retrieve those captured moments or thoughts. There are built-in notifications, and the user can set up reminders or enter inspirational quotes to pop-up as well. Thus Day One receives a pride of place for its exceptional design on OS X and for being exactly what it is meant to be and nothing more. 

The app has been favoured for its minimalist design with no unnecessary adornments, great integration of the touch system, the iOS system, and its highly engaging quality 

Blek by Kunabi Brothers

Another example of an app being exactly what it was set out to be, Blek is a game that embodies minimalist design. Much attention has been given to produce this app in its purest form, and its appeal is in its streamlined fit and finish. The app has taken full advantage of the platform drawing from the UI of the iOS 7 to strike a perfect balance between form and function. 

The basic gameplay is through gestures where, the user must draw a line to knock out coloured dots while avoiding black dots. The rendering of the gesture is calligraphy-like and what is more, it is representative of the speed of the gesture made by the user. Aside from its aesthetic flair the app uses fun lightweight sounds for great feedback. 

Thus the app has been favoured for its minimalist design with no unnecessary adornments, great integration of the touch system, the iOS system, and its highly engaging quality. 

The news stories can be flipped through one by one with appealing visual effects and playful UIs like the share buttons 

Yahoo! News Digest by Yahoo!

 Another app that suits the busy lifestyle, the Yahoo! News Digest is made for the iOS platform and optimised for iPhone 5. It is a quick and efficient way to get up to speed on the news around the world. While there are many news sources, it is hard to find one that is curated to give users news that interest them and in the desired length. 22

Yahoo! News Digest solves this issue by giving information to people in a timely manner and in a way that they can consume it easily. The digest offers comprehensive summaries of all the need to know stories of the day, both hand curated and algorithmically generated presented in a beautiful digest. There are two digests, one that arrives in the morning at eight and the second in the evening by six. Bringing an appropriate touch of contrast, the morning digest comes in a white background and the evening digest, in a black background. Each digest comprises of eight stories with news well laid out in a simple user interface. The app scores high on delivering news of very high quality curated by behind the scenes editors and includes photographs, videos that load quickly, quick summaries, map integration where appropriate, and top tweets and posts related to the story. 

The news stories can be flipped through one by one with appealing visual effects and playful UIs like the share buttons. At the end of browsing news, the app indicates how many news items the user has read. The app’s timer also reveals the time remaining for the next digest to arrive and if needed the user can access digests from previous days as well. On the whole the app takes the ADA trophy-cube for its attention to detail such as colour and playful interface, its good integration with touch, and high quality news presented with beautiful typography and layout. 

Threes! is described as a tiny puzzle that will grow on you. It is an addictive number matching puzzle, featuring an endearing cast of characters and an enchanting soundtrack

Threes! by Sirvo

A game app for iOS that does everything right with its look and mechanics is made all the more engaging by introducing personality. Threes! is described as a tiny puzzle that will grow on you. It is an addictive number matching puzzle, featuring an endearing cast of characters and an enchanting soundtrack. The number tiles are individual characters that make this app a game with an attitude. 

This personality feature makes it much more than a tile sorting game as the characters express reactions as the game proceeds. The user experience as a result is what sets the app apart on top of solid technology and great gameplay. 

A professional tool made solely for the Mac the app is optimised to produce what is referred to as Flixels or Cinemagraphs, which can be described as living images 

Cinemagraph Pro by Flixel Photos

A professional tool made solely for the Mac the app is optimised to produce what is referred to as Flixels or Cinemagraphs, which can be described as living images. They are a combination of video and image while benefiting from being a far more lightweight than video and more interesting and compelling than still photos. 

Through its live masking technology artists can preview images in real time and create ultra high definition outputs from hybrid photos. It is an easy three-step alternative to making gifs that usually involve 30 odd steps. The app’s trim, mask tool, loop and crossfade tools are all that are needed to produce a flixel file.The Cinemagraph Pro can host the file in its server and it works with every browser. 

Along the narrative the user encounters images with the parallax effect pervasive throughout the app… Imaginative, as is stylish Device 6 stands out for being a one-of-a-kind app 

Device 6 by Simogo

Described as a category-defining app Device 6 was recognised for its exceptionally clever ‘gaming situation’.Built for iOS platform, the app is optimised for iPhone 5 and its novel presentation, and game play redefines innovation. 

Device 6 gameplay narrates a captivating thriller as it combines the conventions of games and literature. It’s written word is both the narrator and the navigator. As it proceeds the app blends story with puzzle and puzzle with novella, which serves as its spark of brilliance drawing the user into a mystery of neuroscience and technology. 

Along the narrative the user encounters images with the parallax effect pervasive throughout the app. The story while narrating also unfolds clues and interactive images. A built in sound system enhances the user experience, as sounds grow louder or softer. The text also flows in a variation requiring the iPad to be rotated. For instance when going up a staircase, there are sounds that accompany the setting and the text ascends with the narrative as well. As a result the user is constantly interacting —moving, reading and solving. 

Imaginative, as is stylish Device 6 stands out for being a one-of-a-kind app. 

The app’s streamlined design allows users to flip easily through the stories, and videos embedded play as you reach them without requiring any gestures 

37Storehouse – Visual Storytelling by Storehouse Media

Built exclusively for the iPad, Storehouse is a story telling app that transforms the concept of sharing, such as a facebook post or tweet, to something much more compelling. While sharing of tidbits with family, friends and the world, is part and parcel of social media, Storehouse adds the missing and valuable element – capturing emotion. 

Through this app the user need not be a designer, as the app’s UI effects and dynamics allows for the creation of stunning layouts. Be it a photo journalist or a fashion designer, their stories can be conveyed using text, pictures and videos accessed from the appor uploaded to create stories.All it requires is a user account and it is as simple as adding text, photographs and breaks and publishing the story out to the community. 

The app’s streamlined design allows users to flip easily through the stories, and videos embedded play as you reach them without requiring any gestures. These stories are far more emotionally charged than simple posts and the app is recognised for its commendable adoption of visual technology enabling users to relate a much more visual story. 

Overall, the incredible attention to detail, optimisation and user experience are what make this app a winning contender 

Sky Guide by Fifth Star Lab LLC

The developers of this app take stargazing to a whole new level with Sky Guide. Designed using the iOS platform, discovering the night sky is made effortless with thousands of celestial objects within the app. The app, which works offline as well is thoroughly optimised for the platform and uses core audio and appropriate technologies. 

The result is a stunning performance throughout and a soundtrack of ambient music simply adds to the user experience. Tapping on small stars produce little sounds while larger ones produce greater sounds, urging users to create their own music. The app detects when the device is raised against the sky and activates a compass and gyroscope. Two taps to increase or decrease the number of stars on screen to relate to the actual night sky scene that may have reduced visibility due to light pollution. The app’s Loop tool allows users to see stars that are not visible to the naked eye along with infrared, microwave and h-alpha options to view them. There’s readily available information on every constellation and star that the users can select and access with simple taps on the screen. 

Overall, the incredible attention to detail, optimisation and user experience are what make this app a winning contender.

An impressively laid out game for the iOS platform the users are taken through surreal exploration, fantastical architecture and impossible geometry 

Monument Valley by ustwo Studio

An impressively laid out game for the iOS platform the usersare taken through surreal  exploration, fantastical architecture and impossible geometry. The app itself is commended for successfully bringing to life a very big idea as can be experienced through the game. 

The gameplay is about guiding Princess Ida through each scene. Users can interact by simply tapping on the screen to turn geometrical shapes and create new paths so that Ida can proceed on the journey. The 3D models, fabulous art optimized for retina display, and surprisingly clever optical illusions are what make this app exceptional, giving users an intriguing and engaging experience.