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The 2017 Apple Design Awards

Design Awards

The Apple Design Awards

A segment that was noticeably missing from this year’s WWDC 2017 Keynote was the Apple Design Awards. It’s no wonder since the event that spanned over two hours was jam packed with significant announcements on Apple products and technologies. The awards took place as they do every year but they just were not represented at the Keynote.

The winners of the Apple Design Awards include some talented developers who have come up with clever apps that will help us with productivity, support our interests, and entertain us.

Design Awards


The first Apple Design Awards winner is an app by Ryan McLeod named Blackbox.  This was the only app developed and designed by a single developer which is significant enough. All I can say is this puzzle brings frustration to a new level while being fun and entertaining. All you really need to do is turn on all the lights, How you turn them on is where the challenge is.  This is a dedicated iPhone app that has an impressive 77,000 5 star ratings.

“Blackbox offers puzzles that rely on minimalistic clues, deliberate movement, elegant animations, and visual cues to expand creative thinking and encourage players to solve puzzles by turning, shouting, clicking, snapping, and more.”

It uses a lot of iOS technologies, including Haptic feedback, CoreAudio, CoreLocation, Core Telephony, AVCaptureSession, iCloud, and GameCenter. And it uses them in novel ways. Download it for free with in-app purchases for puzzle solving hints.

Splitter Critters

Splitter Critters developed by RAC7 Games, a two-man team in Vancouver, Canada. The app is an arcade based puzzle game that is level based.  Suitable for all ages with its touch-centric gameplay.

“Splitter Critters uses a clever tearing effect and scene re-arrangement technique to help players solve puzzles in new ways. With clever environmental mechanics such as laser beams, reflective surfaces, liquids, moving platforms, and immersive soundscapes for each world (best experienced with headphones), this app offers an inventive and memorable gaming experience.”

Mushroom 11

Mushroom 11 from Untame uses physics and puzzle problem-solving with action and strategy. Gorgeously designed alien landscapes, hand painted levels,

“selected as an Apple Design Award winner for its intriguing alien landscapes, rich hand-painted levels, and incredibly unique, tactile, and immersive gameplay on iPhone and iPad. Players move an ever-expanding life form through a surreal post-apocalyptic landscape by strategically molding, splitting, and reshaping it into any shape needed to explore the strange and challenging environment.”

The game uses multi-gestures and 3D Touch. There is support for GameCenter.

Old Man’s Journey

Old Man’s Journey from Broken Rules is a beautifully illustrated, captivating puzzle adventure.  It’s all about life, loss, and hope.

This app is an Apple Design Award winner because of its immersive gameplay. It is meaningful with a beautiful well crafted, hand-drawn art style, that is whimsical and exceptional.

“Old Man’s Journey conveys universal truths that transcend cultures and the many stages of life, and delivers an experience focused on originality, simplicity, refined game mechanics, and rich interactivity.”

This app is best enjoyed on an iPad.


Severed from Drinkbox Studios, a small, independent video game developer in Toronto, is a narrative driven adventure game.  Sasha, a one-armed warrior heroine is on a quest through a magical realm nightmare world to save her family. 

“Severed is a challenging touch and swipe-based adventure with deep, detailed, and psychedelic gameplay that masterfully melds macabre themes with vibrant color. Localized into 11 languages, including Simplified and Traditional Chinese. Severed is a unique and memorable game with original style, finely-honed game play, an award-winning soundtrack, and numerous optimizations for iOS.”


Lake by Lake d.o.o. is a beautifully designed coloring app for iPad or iPhone created by a team of five in Slovenia. Equipped with creative tools, color palettes, and beautiful illustrations. 

“ensures a rewarding and relaxing coloring book experience for all ages. Lake’s deep system integration is also impressive. Written in Swift, Lake is optimized for Apple Pencil and takes full advantage of powerful iOS and macOS technologies such as Dynamic Type, 3D Touch, Quick actions, On-Demand Resources, CloudKit Sync, Handoff, Haptic Feedback, QuickLook, and Spotlight search.”


Bear by Shiny Frog di Matteo Rattotti e C. S.N.C.

Bear is an elegant word processing tool. It’s fast with a clean design. Supports 11 languages and can handle a variety of writing tasks from notes to articles.

“An advanced Markup Editor supporting over 20 programming languages, with smart data recognition and numerous export options, reinforces Bear’s powerful capabilities. Developed by a three-person team in Italy, Bear takes full advantage of essential technologies like Core Data, TextKit/CoreText, Core Graphics, Core Audio, Core Spotlight, iCloud sync, Share extensions, 3D Touch, Haptic feedback, and VoiceOver to provide a fast and powerful native experience on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.“

Kitchen Stories

Kitchen Stories from AJNS New Media GmbH

This app was developed by two young women who are on a mission to enable anyone to cook delicious dishes. The app is available in 12 languages and it’s supported on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

“Kitchen Stories includes a rich variety of recipes, dazzling photos, helpful videos, handy tips, and informative articles, all focused on inspiration, convenience, and execution. Kitchen Stories on Apple TV provides an inviting large-screen recipe browsing experience and allows you to pick a recipe while you’re on the go for an automatically generated shopping list for your Apple Watch or iPhone. It is a state-of-the-art app that’s optimized for iOS, tvOS, and watchOS 3. Written almost entirely in Swift, Kitchen Stories supports 3D Touch, Haptic feedback, Rich Notifications with images and videos, iPad Multitasking, Picture in Picture video playback, Handoff, Spotlight search, tvOS Dark mode, and more.”

Things 3 

Things 3 by Cultured Code GmbH & Co. KG is a beautiful task manager for iOS, Apple Watch, and macOS. With a focus on efficiency. Things 3 is task management reimagined. The app was developed by a team of ten with a focus on innovative interactions and gestures.

“Things 3 is deeply integrated with iOS, macOS, and watchOS, leveraging Core Animation for smooth and delightful animations, integrating with Calendar and Reminders, supporting Action and Share Extensions, Rich Notifications, Slide Over and Split Views, 3D Touch and Quick Actions, Handoff, Haptic Feedback, Apple Watch complications, and TouchBar support on Mac. Things 3 sets the standard for how apps should be designed and developed to be their best on every device.”


Elk by Clean Shaven Apps Pte. Ltd. was written by two developers in Singapore. Designed for the Apple Watch this currency converter will convert between 150+ currencies.  It is simple to use and supports 9 languages. It was written entirely in Swift.

“Elk uses the Watch Connectivity framework to sync between iPhone and Apple Watch, and thoughtfully employs Haptic feedback throughout the app on iPhone and Apple Watch to reinforce user-initiated actions.”


Enlight by Lightricks Inc. was developed by a team of five in Israel. A photo editing app for iPhone and iPad. Enlight has a professional grade set of tools you’d expect to find in a desktop app. It can easily edit images up to 50 megapixels.

“Chosen as an Apple Design Awards winner for its thoughtful, powerful, and elegant implementation on iOS, Enlight’s comprehensive and consistent user experience makes its’ powerful capabilities easy to learn and a joy to use. Create and edit stunning Wide Color images with traditional 2D and novel 3D elements to simulate surface materials and lighting, while controlling everything in real-time.”

AirMail 3

AirMail 3  from Bloop is an efficient mail client specifically for iOS, macOS, and watchOS. A beautiful clean design that is also fast. It supports Siri, Haptic feedback, 3D Touch support, Rich Notifications and more.

“Today and To Do Widgets, fast document previewing, TouchBar support, watchOS 3 complications with full message previews, an iMessage app to access mail attachments, and CloudKit support that enables ubiquitous syncing of data across all devices. With its sheer breadth of options and device specific optimizations, AirMail 3 showcases how powerful productivity apps are supposed to work on all devices.”

Check out all of these apps in the AppStore. Congratulations to all the winners of the Apple Design Awards.

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Carmine Delligatti-Drummer, former Support Manager for Deneba Software, ACD Systems, Mareware, Inc. and Swiss Made Marketing. Avid technology blogger and Managing Editor of