Google has followed Apple in announcing its apps and games of the year – and if you're looking for something new to install on your Android phone then these Play Store picks are well worth checking out.
These picks were made by the Google Play editorial team, and there are some honorable mentions as well as the winners in each category. Google has also highlighted the best books and audiobooks. From what we can tell, there are some country-specific choices as well: find your local selection here.
Most of us probably spend our days cycling around the same core set of apps on our phones, so these lists are a good opportunity to check out something new that perhaps we haven't come across before.
The best Android apps of 2022
Best app overall: Dream (freemium) – artificial intelligence just keeps getting better and better, so it seems fitting that AI art generator Dream has the top spot. All you need to do is enter a few prompts, and the app will produce some fantastic-looking digital artwork.
Best app for fun: PetStar (freemium) – if we tell you that PetStar gives you the tools you need to create a music video starring your pet's face, then we probably don't need to say anything else. We're not sure quite what your pet will make of the end results, however.
Best app for personal growth: Breathwrk (freemium) – ready for a self-improvement drive over the next year? Breathwrk wants to help you reduce stress and release energy from your body through hundreds of carefully curated breathing exercises led by the app.
Best app for everyday essentials: Plant Parent (freemium) – as the name suggests, this app helps you parent your plants, giving you customized tips on what your plants need to stay healthy. It can identify just about any plant through your smartphone camera as well.
Best hidden gem app: Recover Athletics (freemium) – we're not sure exactly what qualifies as a "hidden gem", but Google has picked Recover Athletics, which works with Strava to ensure that your body recovers properly after exercise to avoid injury and fatigue.
Best app for good: The Stigma App (free) – The Stigma App is on an important mission to normalize conversations around mental health. You can use the straightforward app to hear stories from other people, to reach out for help, and to support others as well.
Best app for Wear: Todoist (freemium) – if you're looking for something to improve the experience on your Wear OS smartwatch then Todoist is well worth a look. The comprehensive to do list app gives you everything you need to plan and organize your life.
Best app for tablets: Pocket (freemium) – there's never enough time to read everything online, and Pocket helps by providing an article archive to catch up on when you can. A distraction-free layout and the option to have articles read aloud add to the app's appeal.
Best app for Chromebooks: BandLab (freemium) – Chromebooks can run Android apps now of course, and this is one of the apps that's most suited to the laptop format. BandLab makes creating and mixing music easy, whether you're a veteran or a complete beginner.
Best app chosen by users: BeReal (free) – we're not sure exactly which users voted for this category, but the winner is BeReal, the social app that challenges you to post a picture of whatever you're doing at a particular time of day, whenever the app prompts you to.
That's not all either: Google has also found time to give honorable mentions to DanceFitme, noteit widget, Learn to Read – Duolingo ABC, Gym Log & Workouts, Ukulele by Yousician, Book Morning Routine Waking Up, Daily Diary, Sleep Tracker, Linktree, Little Lunches, Wamble, Sleep Fruits and Zario.
The best Android games of 2022
Best game overall: Apex Legends Mobile (freemium) – this strategy battle royale shooter remains phenomenally popular and got the user's choice award too. You've got a choice of gameplay modes to pick from, and the speed and the fun of the combat is hard to beat.
Best multiplayer game: Dislyte (freemium) – a urban mythological role-playing game that stands out from the crowd due to its style, the quality of its visuals, and the story running through it. The game also does well at staying challenging as you get better at it.
Best Pick Up and Play game: Angry Birds Journey (freemium) – the Angry Birds will need no introduction for those who know their mobile gaming history, and this is the latest in the series. It's as fun as ever, as you throw birds to demolish structure after structure.
Best indie game: Dicey Dungeons ($4.99/£4.19) – sometimes the best games don't have to be incredibly complex, and Dicey Dungeons takes a simple format and uses it well. You're a giant dice in this deckbuilding roguelike, and have to escape the whims of chance.
Best story game: Papers, Please ($4.99/£4.09) – one of the most immersive and engaging games on the Play Store at the moment, Papers, Please is described as a "dystopian document thriller", asking you to be smart in identifying smugglers, spies, and terrorists.
Best ongoing game: Genshin Impact (freemium) – assuming this is your type of game (an open world action role-playing game), you're guaranteed to get a whole lot of enjoyment out of Genshin Impact, which features beautiful landscapes and memorable characters.
Best game on Play Pass: Very Little Nightmares ($4.99/£4.99 a month) – if you're paying a monthly fee for the Google Play Pass, you get games like Very Little Nightmares included, a brilliantly creepy and compelling puzzle game that will give you hours of entertainment.
Best game for tablets: Tower of Fantasy (freemium) – Tower of Fantasy is one of the better Play Store games when it comes to taking advantage of the bigger screens offered by tablets, and the open world fantasy adventure title scores highly in most areas.
Best game for Chromebooks: Roblox (freemium) – Roblox has been something of a gaming sensation over recent years, and Google has picked it as one of the best Android games for running on a Chromebook, giving you access to a keyboard and trackpad.
Hang on a minute, because there are plenty of honorable mentions here too: you might also want to check out Catalyst Black, Diablo Immortal, Rocket League Sideswipe, Gun & Dungeons, HOOK 2, Hyde and Seek, quadline, Dungeons of Dreadrock, Knotwords, One Hand Clapping, Phobies, DEEMO II, Inua - A Story in Ice and Time, The Secret of Cat Island, Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion, Candy Crush Saga, Garena Free Fire, Pokémon GO, Bridge Constructor, Final Fantasy VII, Linelight, and Path of Giants.
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.