Apple names its picks for the best iPhone and iPad apps of 2014

Apple has officially announced its picks for the best apps and media from the iTunes store in 2014. Like Google’s Android year-end list for its own Play Store, Apple’s list is editorially selected, and it eschews well-known apps such as Facebook and Twitter for lesser known gems.

Apple selected Elevate Brain Training as its iPhone app of the year, which has been downloaded over 5 million times since the “personal trainer for the brain” came out earlier this year. It’s a free app, but requires a $5 monthly fee to unlock the whole range of brain games. Apple’s app of the year last year was Duolingo, a similar educational game focused on learning languages.

The runner-up iPhone app of the year is Hyperlapse, Instagram’s innovative image stabilizing video program. Threes, a wildly addictive $3 puzzle app that succeeded even with an (inferior) free clone widely available, has been named Apple’s iPhone game of the year. My personal vote for iPhone game of the year would’ve gone to TwoDots, a game that combines Candy Crush Saga-style gameplay and minimalist design.

Apple’s iPad app of the year is Pixelmator. Pixelmator has been around for a while on the Mac, but with the increased processing power of the new iPad Air, perhaps Apple though it was a good time to highlight a “desktop-class” image editor. The iPad game of the year is the visually striking Monument Valley, which is also available for Android phones and tablets.

Apple’s music and media picks are less surprising than its apps, and generally reflect what’s selling well on iTunes. [company]Apple[/company] named Beyoncé the best artist of 2014, Taylor Swift’s platinum smash 1989 (which isn’t available on Spotify) as the best album in 2014, and Iggy Azalea’s Fancy as the best song of 2014.

Apple also released a list of other apps that might not be the “best of 2014” but are still worthy of highlighting, including Yahoo News Digest, Swiftkey Keyboard, and oddly, Facebook’s Paper.

Apple also released its end-of-year charts for most downloaded and top grossing apps. The top free iOS app this year was Facebook Messenger, which Facebook practically forced its users to download after it broke it out of its main app.

This story has been updated to add additional links.