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The 10 best apps of the year so far (according to Google)

Including the best use of augmented reality we've seen yet...

The 10 best apps of the year so far (according to Google)

You've probably spent the better part of £400 on your smartphone - more, if it's from Apple - so you probably want to fill it with the best apps your thumbs can find, right?

Yet the sheer number of apps vying for our attention make the briefest of trawls through an app store the equivalent of trying to find a decent pair of jeans in a ransacked TK-Max. In the sales. It just won't happen.

To our collective relief, the inaugural Google Play Awards make the job of finding some really, really good apps that much easier. Having been rated by a panel of Google experts, these are the best apps of the past 12 months. Get downloading. 

Best app


Yep - an app for interior design won Google's highest award. It's got millions of photos of interiors, basically to inspire you to sort out the squalor you're currently living with.

There's a neat use of your smartphone's camera that lets you place items in your room in augmented reality style. Envy awaits.

Get it here

Best Early Adopter

World Around Me

Open the app and your camera will kick in. Sweep your phone around you and WAM will start overlaying virtual signposts to a whole bunch of things nearby: need somewhere to eat? There's a good Italian that way. Want a coffee? Take the next left. There are 31 categories for you to search from.

One of it's major advantages over your regular mapping apps is its ability to give you a real-time indication of how far away something is on screen. No more "It's two minutes, honest" lies.

Get it here

Best Families App

Thinkrolls 2

A logic puzzler for kids aged 3-9. 

We haven't played this. It looks bright and colourful though, and kids like colours right? That and sugar.

We're not good with kids. 

Get it here

Best Go Global

Pokémon Shuffle Mobile

You know Candy Crush, right? Well, this is another icon stacking game - but with an added twist of having to play to your Pokémon type knowledge (don't pretend you don't have an extensive knowledge of which Pokémon Bug types are effective against).

Going up against a water Pokémon? Match three (or more) electric Pokémon. Fighting a fire type? Match up some water type. Addictive, relentless, logical - it'll ruin your battery.

Get it here

Best Game

Clash Royale

A multiplayer arena game from Clash of Clans: Collect and upgrade dozens of cards featuring the Clash of Clans troops, spells and defenses, then unleash them in a battle arena in which you're trying to knock down your opponent's tower. 

It's free, but you might find yourself getting your arse handed to you on an iPad by players who've spent money to buy power ups. Hey, we didn't pick these, blame Google.

Get it here

Most Innovative


The virtual reality offering of New York Times deserves your attention.

You'll need a VR headset or Google Cardboard to pop your phone into. From there, you can sit back and watch a variety of stories told through the new, immersive medium of 360 video. Give it a go.

Get it here

Best Use of Material Design

Robinhood - Free Stock Trading

No, we don't really know what that award means either. But doesn't Robinhood look lovely. Look at all those stocks and shares go. Look at the lovely lines. Isn't that typography lovely?

But remember kids: All investments involve risk and the past performance of a security, or financial product does not guarantee future results or returns. Play nicely.

Get it here

Best Standout Indie


We like to think the developers thought of the name of this app before they had an idea for the game.

An original word puzzle game, you spell words by selecting letters on a grid. When you use letters that are adjacent to each other, bears appear - nice ones, not the ones that want to eat you. The more letters you use, the bigger the bear gets, and the more points you earn. No one gets eaten, really.

Get it here

Best Use of Google Play Game Services

Table Tennis Touch

A table tennis swipe game with some of the best graphics you'll find on your smartphone. 

There's online multiplayer, customisable bat design, heaps of mini-games - basically, you should have it on your phone already.

Get it here

Best Standout Startup


Are you a regular flier? One of those types for whom air miles aren't a weird myth on a par with unicorns and affordable rent? Then you'll want Hopper on your phone. 

This neat tool allows you to analyse flight prices, letting you work out the cheapest way of getting from A to B over a range of dates. Notifications can nudge you toward deals you might otherwise miss. Save a packet on your next holiday.

Get it here