Self-care apps and Drake top Apple's 'Best of 2018' apps, games and media

Apple's Best of 2018

As 2018 comes to a close, Apple has released a list of the best media and apps that people watched, played and listened to on its devices over the year.

Note that these weren’t the top-downloaded apps. Instead, this is a curated selection of the best that came out this year for a global audience, according to Apple.

Oddly enough self-care apps, oddball puzzle games, Drake and Cardi B sit atop Apple's rather comprehensive list.

Apps and gaming

First up: apps. 2018 was the Year of Self-Care, according to Apple (and also reflected in Google’s list of the best Play Store apps of the year). Apple picked apps like Fabulous, Shine, 10% Happier and Headspace for its best of 2018 list. Given everything happening in the world, this isn’t too surprising.

Top apps for all platforms included the artsy & creative Procreate Pocket on iPhone, the educational AR app Froggipedia on iPad, image editing software Pixelmater Pro on Mac, and the fitness app Sweat on Apple TV. 

The big trend in gaming? You guessed it: Battle Royale. But, apart from everyone and their mother playing Fortnite, the top gaming apps per device were quiet, lovely little puzzle experiences. 

Apple picked the oddball puzzle game Donut County for iPhone, the gorgeous Gorogoa for iPad, The Gardens Between for Mac and the mesmerizing and meditative Alto’s Odyssey for Apple TV.

Music and media

Apple’s editorial wisdom has deemed Drake artist of the year, with Juice WRLD coming in as its top breakout artist with his debut album “Goodbye & Good Riddance” released back in May. “I Like It” by Cardi B feat. Bad Bunny & J. Balvin took song of the year, while Apple gave country artist Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” album of the year.

Apple’s roundup of Best Podcasts had a few old favorites (“This American Life,” “Serial,” “99% Invisible”) along with several new ones following a trend of deep-dives into journalistic and historical subjects (“Caliphate,” “Slow Burn,” “Dr. Death”). They even picked Marvel’s first fiction podcast, “Wolverine: The Long Night.”

Apple named several cultural breakthrough movies to its list of best films like Annihilation, Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians. It also had genre innovators like Hereditary and Eighth Grade, as well as the heartwarming/tearjerking Mr. Rogers semi-biopic, Won’t You Be My Neighbor.

Apple’s best shows included a mix of traditional cable and streaming series, like the always-great The Americans, Atlanta, The Expanse and The Good Place. It included shows like The Handmaid’s Tale and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (on Hulu and Amazon Prime, respectively) that will soon be competing with Apple’s own still-in-development streaming service. 

Books, books, books

Apple picked out a title for each genre in its best of 2018 list – and then did it again for audiobooks. Here are those lists in full:

Best Books of the Year

  • Book of the Year: American Marriage
  • Best Nonfiction: The Library Book 
  • Best Mystery: The Witch Elm
  • Best Thriller: Light It Up
  • Best Bio/Memoir: Educated 
  • Best Romance: Too Wilde to Wed
  • Best Science Fiction/Fantasy: Spinning Silver 
  • Best Feel-Good Fiction: When Life Gives You Lululemons
  • Best Literary Fiction: There There 
  • Best Young Reader Book: Harbor Me

Best Audiobooks of the Year

  • Audiobook of the Year: American Marriage
  • Best Nonfiction: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century 
  • Best Mystery: Something in the Water
  • Best Thriller: Long Road to Mercy 
  • Best Bio/Memoir: Becoming 
  • Best Business Audiobook: Dare to Lead 
  • Best Health, Mind, Body: Girl, Wash Your Face
  • Best Family Audiobook: Rebound 
  • Best Humor: Calypso 
  • Best Historical Fiction: The Great Alone

Okay, so it wasn't completely a popularity contest with the most-downloaded apps and media - otherwise, they'd just be handing out awards to the usual suspects (YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger front the top apps list). But in its place, Apple has given us a list of somewhat-predictable movers and shakers. 

But if you missed any of the above, now's the time to jump in - before we get a whole new slew in 2019.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.