With 2022 around the corner, the time has come to determine how our favorite apps have fared in a year that has significantly favored several industries (edtech and fintech being the most prominent) and simultaneously added to the headaches of behemoths like Meta, Amazon, Alibaba, and others. The effect of the pandemic has been highlighted in the performance of the apps as well.

Google Play’s “Best of 2021” app awards have an expanded lineup this year, including apps and games on tablets, Wear OS and Google TV. For those who don’t know, the app awards show which apps (and games) have been the most popular and secured the maximum number of votes.

Paramount+, an OTT streaming service, and Garena Free Fire MAX have won the User’s Choice 2021 awards. Meditation app Balance and multiplayer online battle arena game Pokémon UNITE have been the best app and best game of the year in the US. Google said that its Best of winners represented what was next in app and game development as it challenged the norm, “introducing unique gameplay features and giving users never-before-seen experiences.”

From the Indian perspective, interactive live learning platform Bitclass has been the best app of the year, while Clubhouse has been the User’s Choice app in 2021. As for gaming, it is Battleground Mobile India (a rebranded PUBG developed specifically for Indian users) that has been the winner in the gaming category, while the User’s Choice Game has been Garena Free Fire MAX. Google said that “gaming continued to gain significant interest in India.”

Globally, the Best Competitive Games of 2021 included League of Legends: Wild Rift, Marvel Future Revolution, Pokémon UNITE, Rogue Land, and Suspects: Mystery Mansion, while Inked, JanKenUP!, Knights of San Fransisco, Overboard!, and Tears of Themis have been the Best game Changers of the year. The list also includes names such as 7 Billion Humans, Bird Alone, Donut Country, My Friend Pedro: Ripe for Revenge, Puzzling Peaks EXE, and others.

Empathy – Loss Companion, which provides personalized step-by-step guidance through the trials of losing a loved one, mentorship community Mentor Spaces, and text-to-speech app Speechify has been the Best Apps for Good this year, while plant identification app Blossom, photo editing app PhotoRoom, and goal planner Rabit have been the winners of the Best Everyday Essentials category.

From the winners of the awards in several categories, it can be inferred that more and more users are focussing on mental reflection and personal growth as the world is starting to heal from the effects of the pandemic. This is reflected in Moonly, Moonbeam, Laughscape (winners of the Best Hidden Gem category), Balance: Meditation and Sleep, Clementine, and Uptime (winners of the Best for Personal Growth category). My Fitness Pal, Calm, and Sleep Cycle have been the Best Wear Apps of 2021.

Clubhouse, Noobly, and Whatifi have been the winners of the Best for Fun category, while the list of best apps in tablets includes Houzz – Home and Remodel, Canva and Concepts: Sketch, Note, Draw. Disney+, ESPN, and Tubi have been the most popular apps on Google TV.