2014 was a prolific year for the App Store with over 500,000 new apps over the last calendar year. Now, it’s time to take a look back at all of the apps released in 2014, and pick the best ones. We have broken down the top apps into individual categories as we lead up to the top 10 apps of the year overall. Our rankings are based on a three person panel focusing on iOS uniqueness, overall enjoyment, and complete experience. Now, we present the best entertainment apps of 2014.
AirPano Travel Book ($3.99, Universal) [Review]: An app that lets you travel to some of the world’s most amazing locations all from the comfort of your iPad. The app doesn’t simply provide still frames, or even videos, but rather 360 degree panoramas for complete immersion. Now, it’s not the same as actually being in the presence of these wonders, but it’s also not thousands of dollars, and instead just $3. The app begins with a digital representation of a 3D pop-up book, with each page depicting the next collections. Each scene comes with the complete spherical 360° photo panoramas that cover every inch of the scene. The panoramas are absolutely extraordinary in terms of the perspective provided, and the amount of detail included. This is an app to truly take advantage of the iPad retina display to get you as close as possible to these places without actually being there.
Listen (Free, iPhone) [Review]: It just may be the best iPhone music player. What really makes Listen stand-out is a gesture driven interface that truly lets you control every part of the app with a specific touch action. It’s all designed for such a seamless experience that lets you perform basic music controls without even looking at the screen. There’s also an iOS 7 inspired design with translucent backgrounds throughout, infused with the colors of your albums. Listen includes a slick integration with your entire music library with a circle layout of every playlist, album, and song your have on your device.
Auxy (Free, iPad) [Review]: An app that is all about making electronic music with layer bass, drum kit, and synths. Auxy gets rid of the barrier of entry to let anyone start tapping around to create their own great sounding beats. The app is first, and foremost made for touch allowing you to tap the grid to place notes, drag to lengthen notes, and then tap and hold to rearrange. All of it is so touch friendly, and it’s so simple to just start tapping around until you have something that sounds good. The main highlight of Auxy is that it’s just fun to hear a beat come together while experimenting with such simple tools. Despite how easy it is to control, you still have professional sounding quality that can be exported to e-mail, other apps, or iTunes. There’s such a powerful music engine included, and fashioned for the iPad for anyone to use, and that fact can’t be understated.
Ken Burns (Free, iPad / $9.99 IAP) [Review]: The offers a unique take on his catalog of documentaries. Rather than just a complete filmography video player, the app offers a brand new look at Ken’s film history. The main idea is that patterns in history repeat themselves, and the app organizes video segments based on recurring themes throughout the years. The heart of the app is the timeline view allowing you to scroll through the chronological order of film clips with each one represented by a bubble. You can swipe through them, pinch in for greater detail, tap to see details and start playing. Each bubble on the timeline is color coded, with each color corresponding to a particular theme. The Ken Burns app cuts down the various sections into intervals that are usually just a few minutes to make them easier to digest with a much greater focus.
Toca Nature ($2.99, Universal) [Review]: A kid’s app that’s all about constructing your own natural landscape, and interacting with its inhabitants. You’re given a terraforming tool fashioned into kid friendly form, so that everything comes down to touch. Simply select the tool to add trees, water, or mountains, and then drag your finger on the in-game world to watch it take shape. As you add in each type of natural element, you also start producing animals tied to each section as you reach certain thresholds of abundance. All of it comes down to shaping the world with your finger, and you can continuously change the world to your liking. There’s also a continuous day/night cycle that the animals respond to, and they’re also in search of food that you can provide by gathering in specific areas.