Another year is almost over and it’s been a big one for iOS. With over 500,000 apps currently available on the App Store, consumers have A LOT to choose from.

Before we reveal the Staff’s picks for their favorite apps of the year, you will see that some of our selections were NOT actually originally released this year. This actually raises an interesting point. One of the wonderful and distinctive things about the App Store is its flexibility and fluidity. You CAN teach an old app new tricks. Mature apps which receive regular updates to keep them current, relevant and prominent on your device even years after their original release date can go head to head (and even win) against newly released apps. Many of the apps that I use on a daily basis are at least a year old.

Without further ado… here are the Staff picks for the best Apps of 2011.

BrettNolan Brett’s Picks
Before I reveal my picks, I have a few honorable mentions of some really great apps released this year: Temple Run, GTA 3, NBA Jam, Ticket To Ride, Poker Pals (now that it’s been mostly fixed), iBlast Moki 2 HD, Hector Episode 2 HD, Homerun Battle 2, Dead Space™ for iPad and Downcast (not released in 2011, but I discovered it in 2011).

Jetpack Joyride
Halfbrick Studios
Halfbrick has always been a go to studio for a great, solid and polished gaming experience. Fruit Ninja, Monster Dash and Age of Zombies have all been stellar games, but Jetpack Joyride is easily their best effort to date. The finest 2D endless runner available on the App Store to date, the game has everything you could possibly want from a title in this genre. Powerups, points, missions, and even cloud syncing, it is a brilliant and addictive game worthy of your attention.

Tweetbot — A Twitter Client with Personality
At a time when the powers that be at Twitter were making it very difficult for third party twitter clients to stay viable, the folks at Tapbots did the unthinkable…they launched a new Twitter app for the iPhone. And boy am I glad that they did. In my opinion, Tweetbot is the most intuitive and easy to navigate twitter client available for iOS and a breath of fresh air. I can only hope that 2012 will see the app go universal or we’ll get a separate iPad release.

iOS 5

While not technically an App, iOS 5 updated the iPhone 4 with so many features and knobs that I simply HAD to pick it as one of my favorite iOS “things” released this year. From notifications to free iMessaging, iCloud to Music Match, iOS 5 adds so many wonderful new features that I use each and every day, and which I most certainly can no longer live without.


WilParker Wil’s Picks
Man oh man what a year 2011 was for us iOS geeks. Creativity has been pushed, boundaries have been broken and overall just another solid year showing how dominant iOS can be in the mobile gaming and app arena. Narrowing it down to 3 is insanely tough as there are easily 20+ apps I consider 2011 “best of” material. But alas, I’ll narrow it to 3.

Infinity Blade II
Chair Entertainment Group, LLC
Let me get this out of the way, Infinity Blade 2. Absolutely stunning, jaw dropping and insane for a mobile game to look and play as this one does. I’m an Infinity Blade fan, through and through and Infinity Blade 2 has more than certainly surpassed every expectation I had coming into a sequel. From playing it in bed on my iPhone 4S, then utilizing iCloud and continuing my game on my iPad 2 via sofa, this game has it all and will be on my devices until Infinity Blade 3. Can hardly wait for co-op mode!

Find My Friends
Next up? Find My Friends! YES, I love this App. As a Apple fan, I’ve converted near ALL family and friends to said products. Enter Find My Friends, all my CLOSE friends and family utilize this app and I think it’s outstanding. Simple, but outstanding. I use it daily, thus why it’s on my list. Plotting events/dinner/meet-ups has never been easier when you can simply pull up Find My Friends to see locations. Gonna meet my best bud for a hamburger? Maybe I’m a tad early? No prob, it appears he’s about 1 mile away…guess I’ll play some iPhone games till then. I love it and use it daily.


Lastly? Another Apple-made app that’s made a new splash into my daily happenings, Siri. I picked Siri because even despite being young in its creation, it’s a game-changer. Never do I type in my reminders anymore…all are now spoken and perfectly executed. Daily am I conversing with my digital assistant having her remind me and setting up calendar events. What did I do before her? Type stuff? Never! What’s typing!?
This year was crazy and there are WAY to many games and apps that I’d love to list here…so, in closing, I’ll leave a few games/apps I felt need to be mentioned as well. Runners-up: LogMeIn, Alien Blue, Waze, Temple Run, Sonic CD, GTA 3, Where’s My Water? and Flipboard.


JadeWalker Jade’s Picks

Jamawkinaw Enterprises
I listen to a lot of podcast. I mean around 40-80 hours a week. Managing them through iTunes, then syncing them to my phone daily, became a huge chore. Downcast came to the rescue. Not only does it download your podcasts for you, it can organize playlists almost any way you could possible want them. A little while ago, they added yet another great feature: iCloud syncing between devices so everything you use will know where you left off. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Kard Combat ™
Hothead Games Inc.
As a fan of Magic the Gathering, I was excited to see that Richard Garfield designed a card game for iOS. Kard Combat ™ comes free and lets you try it out before you have to invest in it ($2.99 for each half of the available decks). You have a fun challenge mode to unlock all the cards for each deck, a super-hard section that puts you in matches that are near impossible to win, and a great multiplayer system. This is one of my favorite games of all time on iOS. Are you playing? Hit me up for a game sometime (OpenFeint and Game Center are both TheEternal).

Jetpack Joyride
Halfbrick Studios
It’s not often I find a game I can play for hours and hours, but this is it. Endless runners can be frustrating, but this one has so many powerups and goals to work for that it stays fresh every time you turn it on. There’s nothing like high-fiving the scientists as you go to make you smile and come back for more.


JP Cupertino JP’s Picks
2011 was an incredible year for apps with some amazing gems coming out of an app store that spent most of the year dominated by games like Angry Birds, The Smurfs and Where’s My Water?.

My picks this year are tempered by the release of a new iOS device generation which saw beautiful and powerful games usher in a new era of cutting edge technology. Meanwhile, I stayed slightly behind the tech curve with my trusty 2nd Generation 8 gig iPod Touch. As frustrating as it became to see highly anticipated games require the latest and greatest devices, it made me truly appreciate the developers that remembered that not everyone has the best of the best just yet. I may have had to pass up some wonderful CAVE shooters, most of the Square-Enix throwback RPGs like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy, not to mention Elder Sign by Fantasy Flight Games, but I also got to dive into some stellar games that did work on my now-elderly devices that I may have passed up otherwise.


Mage Gauntlet
Rocketcat Games
Mage Gauntlet is by one of my personal top 5 developers, Rocketcat Games, who always have their finger on the pulse of the retro 8 and 16-bit style. It is a fun dungeon RPG-lite romp using a unique magic mechanic that makes you really have to budget your spells rather than just spamming Magic Missle at the darkness. Give it a whirl if you liked their previous offerings like Hook Worlds and Super Quck Hook or if you just enjoy 16-bit Action-RPGs like Zelda

Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
As many of you know I spend most of my time at work running events and demos for various card, board, and role-playing games. That said, I am a massive fan of the Deck-Building Game genre that has become quite popular in the tabletop world. Instead of bringing a deck you construct from packs of cards, you build the decks as you play. Ascension made the transition from tabletop to iOS perfectly, comfortable and responsive even on the iPod/iPhone’s small screen. Online asynchronous multiplayer makes this a must-have for tabletop gamers on the go.

Jetpack Joyride
Halfbrick Studios
Another game by perennial favorite Halfbrick Studios, creators of Fruit Ninja, Monster Dash and Age of Zombies. This one sees our hero, Barry Steakfries, stealing an experimental Jetpack and taking it for an exciting journey….a ride of joy shall we say. Jetpack Joyride has become my go-to game when I want to kill 5 minutes, which of course has made me late for meetings and other adult responsibilities, since one game turns into four very easily. This game reminds me that my little iPod 2g can blow me away with vivid colors and lightning fast gameplay even without retina display and super rad processors. (yes that is what is in the new devices, “Super Rad” processors. you don’t need to look it up, just trust me.)

So there are my 3 games for 2011! What did you think of 2011?
See you in THE FUTURE!!!!


Martin Endara Martin’s Picks

Burbn, Inc.
Released in October 2010, but none the less awarded as app of the year by many. And I couldn’t concur more with it. Instagram has been a fresh start for social apps with a simple and beautiful concept. I think now people are truly using their iPhone’s camera capturing the world surrounding them. Sometimes fascinating, sometimes just they daily journey into life, Instagram has caused a real revolution in photography apps and emerging businesses offering prints on real canvas with your favorite images.

Grand Theft Auto 3
Rockstar Games
They people at Rockstar Games managed to develop a complete Grand Theft Auto III port from the Playstation 2 to the iOS. Nothing is missing
and playing this classic on its 10th year anniversary on my iPad brings nothing but joy. While the graphics might seem a little outdated, we are not looking at a reissue, but the original game from 2001! For fans of the franchise and hardcore gamers alike, this could probably be one of the best releases
in the games category of the App Store this year. Regarding sales, we’ll just have to wait and see how well it does for Rockstar, since the release is only a week old.

Magic Piano
I just love what Smule has done with Magic Piano for the iPhone. If you like music and you wish you could play the piano like in your favorite songs, well now you can feel a little bit of the experience thanks to Smule’s Magic Piano app. It offers daily free classical songs, good sharing options, and a solid store to buy hot and popular songs and even synth sounds.


Emily Nolan Emily’s Picks
Like her Dad, Emily has A LOT of apps, so narrowing down her favorites to just three was a difficult task. So here are some honorable mentions: The Monster at the End of This Book…starring Grover!, Another Monster at the End of This Book…Starring Grover & Elmo!, Pirate Scribblebeard’s Treasure with Oscar & Josephine by Kidoodle Apps, Toontastic and Harold and The Purple Crayon

Toca Boca
If given the choice, Emily’s top 5 would have been filled with nothing but Toca Boca titles. For her 2011 was the year of Toca! Fun to say, fun to play, these guys know exactly what kids her age (2-6 yrs old) like. Inventive, creative and stimulating Toca Boca’s digital toys are a MUST have for kids (and parents). Emily’s favorites are: Toca Tea Party, Toca Hair Salon, Toca Kitchen, Toca Store and Toca Doctor.

My PlayHome
Shimon Young
The dollhouse goes digital in My PlayHome. Emily loves to use her imagination, moving and playing with the characters in her virtual home. Feeding them, making them talk to one another, putting the kids to bed, there is so much to explore and discover in this house and it keeps Emily entertained for hours.

Big Kid Life Fire Fighter
Last but not least is Big Kid Life Fire Fighter. Emily loves to put out fires and save animals in this cute little platformer for kids. It has sone neat features that allow your kids to send you voice and/or email messages while they are playing to let you know how they are doing and how many fires they’ve put out and animals they’ve saved. Something about this game has really captured Emily’s interest and it is one she constantly goes back to time and time again.


Gary Marston Gary’s Picks

Angry Birds
It was always going to be! 2011 was the year of Angry Birds domination; with a new title in the franchise, Angry Birds Rio, being priced at an unselfish 99¢. Rovio Mobile has certainly made one of those series that’s almost impossible to say no to. I won’t lie – I’m not a complete Angry Birds addict (yet), however I appreciate that this game is as ingenious as it is visually stunning – and for the price of a can of cola that’s got to be worth something!

Sleep Cycle alarm clock
Maciek Drejak Labs
Sleep Cycle is an app that I was originally very cynical about. The “premise” of the app is that it monitors your movement during the night and wakes you up during your lightest sleep stage (in relation to the time you set on your alarm clock). Additional features include handy graph displays of your activity through each night (ranging from awake to deep sleep). After a week of usage I realized that this app is bang on the money and I’ve been waking up feeling refreshed every morning. One downside? It doesn’t run in the background of your phone, so you have to leave it to do its thing when you’re ready for bed. Not a big deal, though.

Grand Theft Auto 3
Rockstar Games
I was torn between this and Plants vs. Zombies for a while and couldn’t choose which one deserved 3rd place. Both were/are excellent games and run extremely well on the iPhone, however I’d have to say GTA just takes it due to it being such a robust, detailed and responsive port of one of the PS2’s biggest games. If you were going to do a price comparison of how much bang you get for your buck, GTA III would easily knock P v Z out of the park. It’s a game that provides gamers with weeks of play – and when you get bored of beating up prostitutes it’s not game over! Oh no! 100 hours of entertaining in-game radio is there to be enjoyed!