Zoom, Pokemon Go, and other top Apple apps share the big trends they see in 2021

PHOTO: Apple

Apple has released its Best of 2020 App Store winners, and many of them should be familiar names to people who’ve relied more on their personal devices for work and play during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Home workout app Wakeout! won iPhone App of the Year, while Zoom scored iPad App of the Year.

Wakeout! developers Pedro Wunderlich and Andres Canella expressed their delight to AsiaOne over scoring the coveted award, especially after their previous venture didn’t turn out as well as expected. Though the app was launched in 2017, it was when the pandemic hit that people started turning to Wakeout! to help stay active during lockdowns.

“We saw three times more downloads due to [Covid-19],” noted Canella, who attributed the simple workouts to be an accessible (and fun) point of entry for those wanting to reduce the risk of becoming sedentary as they work and learn from home.

Both Canella and Wunderlich expect 2021 to be a year where people would pay even more attention to their health and wellness, with Wakeout! and other fitness apps aiding them to change habits to benefit their personal wellbeing.

PHOTO: Zoom

Zoom, on the other hand, has actually turned into a familiar verb in the wake of the global pandemic. The video conferencing app — originally meant for enterprise — is now the go-to program for people around the world to stay connected with friends and family while keeping safe at home.

Zoom spokesperson Jennifer Hill told AsiaOne how the company managed the surge in traffic (10 million users to 300 million users within five months) at the start of the pandemic: easily-scaleable host cloud servers and the app’s ability to work at the lowest bandwidth possible so even those with a limited internet connection could still stay in touch with others.

Hill noted that Zoom stays ready to help users even more next year, having seen big trends in large-scale virtual events and webinars. Recently, Zoom launched a spin-off platform called OnZoom, where folks can host or attend ticketed live-streaming events or consultations like concerts, medical check-ups, and yoga sessions.

On top of new in-app features — like high fidelity audio playback and sharing slides as virtual backgrounds — the company also launched its Zoom for Home line of video-calling hardware.

Though the world has changed dramatically in terms of going out and socialising in large groups, Niantic’s global gaming sensation Pokemon Go scored Apple’s App Trend of the Year award. The augmented reality app remains very much relevant and popular throughout 2020 thanks to the significant tweaks made in the game.

Niantic spokespeople Matthew Slemon and Veronica Saron enthused that players are still able to stay connected to the game and other Pokemon trainers due to changes in core mechanics like remote raids, increased Pokemon spawn rates, and other features that offer in-game rewards despite walking shorter distances outside.

Slemon and Saron also hinted how Niantic’s team-up with the Singapore Tourism Board is a success that could be replicated in other countries as well. While it’s hard to predict how 2021 will turn out (the pandemic has been known to wreck major plans anyway), Niantic assured that the company would be able to quickly adapt to the constantly-changing pandemic era.

"Doodling on notes during a video call, ordering in brunch for those stay-home weekends, checking out of malls and into parks to clock in those extra steps for the day. I wanted to illustrate some of these moments and activities that have rapidly become a part of our daily lives in 2020 and celebrate the top apps of the year that have made those transitions not only easier but possible," says digital content creator André Wee, who illustrated some of the top apps used in the Singapore this year. PHOTO: André Wee courtesy of Apple

Other winners include personal soundscape generator Endel which won Apple Watch App of the Year, gacha RPG title Genshin Impact which won iPhone Game of the Year, and the legitimately fantastic calendar app Fantastical which scored Mac App of the Year.

Of course, TraceTogether and SingPass Mobile also popped up in the top three free iPhone apps downloaded in Singapore this year — only because they’re absolutely mandatory to have to go anywhere these days.

ilyas@asiaone.com