The 11 Winners of the 2012 Apple Design Award

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After all the hustle around this morning’s WWDC keynote announcements from Apple, the company announced the winners of this year’s Apple Design Awards. This year, there were four categories — the iPhone Developer Showcase, iPad Developer Showcase, Mac Developer Showcase and Student Developer Showcase.

iPhone Developer Showcase

Jetpack Joyride


Jetpack Joyride is a fun and infuriating platformer — which probably describes just about all platformers, really. You tap the screen to control your jetpack, dodge missiles, use vehicles and collect gold coins.

Where’s My Water?


Where’s My Water is a puzzle game published by Disney and is the first mobile game to receive its own original Disney character, Swampy the alligator.

National Parks by National Geographic


If you live in the US and love spending time in the outdoors, National Parks gives you useful information such as maps, tips, GPS coordinates for points of interest and photographs about the country’s national parks in a beautiful interface.

iPad Developer Showcase

Bobo Explores Light


Bobo Explores Light is an interactive kid’s book of sorts that teaches children about the various facets of light — why the sky is blue, lasers, lightning and so on — using experiments, animation, videos, and trivia.

DM1 – The Drum Machine


DM1 is based on vintage drum machines and designed to be as true to form as possible. With realistic graphics modeled on old machines and a collection of 19 vintage drum kit sounds as well as 45 more modern electronic kits, this is the best and most beautiful iOS drum machine around.



Paper is a note-taking, idea-capture and sketching app all in one, and none of the many that vied for the top dog in this niche ever did it as well as Paper has. The expressive ink engine makes drawing feel awesome and the paper notebook analogy is a good way to organize loose collections of ideas.

Mac Developer Showcase

Deus Ex: Human Revolution


Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an action RPG set in 2027. The futuristic world looks great — it is stunningly immersive and makes full use of OpenGL’s capabilities for a realistic appearance.



Limbo is a 2D puzzle and adventure game with a minimal UI and a black and white world, with a strong focus on the narrative. Despite the focus on the story in lieu of fancy graphics, Apple has rewarded its stark beauty.



It’s hard to find a pro graphics app that reaches for the native Mac OS X look and appears and feels cohesive while doing it. Alternatives like Photoshop and Pixelmator have interfaces of their own. Sketch brings it all together alongside advanced features for what is, at least in the design software world, peanuts.

Student Developer Showcase



This student project from the Mediadesign Highschool of Applied Sciences in Munich is a 3D puzzle game where you use touch to control wind, hurricanes and lightning to navigate your hot air ballon through each level.

Little Star


This app is a project by students at Dalian Nationalities University in China. It’s an interactive children’s book featuring all-original artwork and combines gameplay with education for younger children.

Your Thoughts?

This year’s Apple Design Awards featured a pretty strong focus on gaming and digital publishing, if you include interactive children’s books in the publishing and not gaming category. In a couple of cases I thought there were other apps around with better interfaces, but they could be older or may not be as well-done in other areas of the application’s development. Or Apple just disagrees with my assessments! Each app taken on its own, though, I don’t think any of them are undeserving of a design award. What are your thoughts?

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