best of 2012

So far, as a part of our ‘Best of 2012‘ series, we’ve already shown you our picks for the Best App Icons, Best UI Animations, the Best apps to replace the default/stock apps on iOS. So today, to conclude the series and the year, we thought we’d pick the absolute best apps of 2012. Mikhail and Preshit have put together a list of their favorite apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android and Mikhail has curated a list of his favorite Games. Note that we’ve decided to leave out Twitter apps from the list below. Most of our readers have already settled onto their favorite twitter app, so including one in the list doesn’t really make sense. So here’s our list, in no particular order.



If you’ve been following our site for the last few week, Fantastical being on this list shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. The iPhone app, which was released just last month has already gone onto become one of the best iPhone apps to come out this year. Everything about the app — the icon, the gorgeous UI, the brilliantly implemented transitions and it’s natural language parsing and other core features are nothing short of excellent. Fantastical on the Mac and now on the iPhone is single-handedly responsible for making me use calendar scheduling productively this year. It’s easily one of my favorite apps on my Homescreen and I often find my eyes staring at the stunningly designed icon. At just $3.99 on the App Store, Fantastical is beyond doubt a fantastic app for your iPhone.

Day One

Day One is another app that led me to take up something that I didn’t think I’d ever do — maintaining a journal. Even though Day One for iPhone came out in 2011, 2012 is when it was updated with some of its best features. iCloud sync, the beautiful new app icon, fonts and new sounds were added to the app this year. Version 1.8 of the app brought along one of its most amazing features, the ability to add Photos to the library & automatic weather based on the location. The latest major update introduced Search, Tagging and Multimarkdown footnotes, arguably making it the best journaling app the App Store. In spite of all these features being added to the app, Day One has consistently maintained a gorgeous UI and simple interactions in the app. It’s a Universal app and costs just $4.99 on the App Store.

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As a part of our ‘Best of 2012‘ series to end of this year, we’ve already shown you our picks for Best App Icons and the Best UI Animations so far. We thought today would be a good day to feature some excellent alternative apps or replacements to the stock/default apps that Apple offers for iOS. We’re sure many of our readers would’ve either gifted or received an iOS device this holiday season, so this list will hopefully help you find a better app that fits your needs the best.

We should note that unlike Android or OS X, iOS doesn’t allow setting a 3rd party app as a system default so it is impossible to completely stay independent of the stock apps. So while the apps on the list below are great alternatives, they work along with the default apps. Here’s our list, starting from the top-left of the Homescreen.

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We continue our ‘Best of 2012‘ series with our favourite UI animtions from apps that came out this year. Apps can have stunning UIs & great functionality, but having unique animations and transitions in them make you coming back to them and make the apps worthy of showing off the platform. A good animation or transition when you least expect it gives you that feeling of delight and often makes you fall in love with it. 2012 has seen many popular apps get refined and also big companies finally realizing the importance of a good UI in an app. Android apps have been getting better with some great ones featured here over the past year and iOS apps are just pushing the design envelope more and more. This is a list of UI animations in apps that we (that’s Preshit & Mikhail) think stood out from the rest. We’ve also included videos of the animations to give you a preview, but they look best on your iOS device itself. Fair warning though, this is a video-heavy post. Here’s our list, in no particular order.

Google+ Animation

When Google+ went public with invitations, everyone wanted one. However the lack of a good app on Android and mobile apps on any other platform made most people avoid the network. Google has upped their game on iOS and their recent app releases are just stunning. The Google+ iOS apps get pretty close to making you want to use the network. They are filled with great and unique animations. The one in question here is the pull to refresh animation. When you pull the view down, there are 4 colored bands that get stretched and they become darker and lighter in a rhythmic pattern from left to right. Also interesting is the way new content cells slowly fall into place as you scroll towards the bottom. Little things like this show us that Google pays a lot of attention to the minute aspects of app design. It is worth having the Google+ app on your iOS device only for this animation.

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2012 was a fantastic year for pixels. We saw plenty of beautiful apps being released on all the popular platforms as well as some stunning examples of meticulous pixel craftsmanship all throughout the year. 2012 was also a great year for Beautiful Pixels. Not only did we cross 100,000 RSS subscribers in September (Currently over 160k), we also completed three whole years of writing about our Unhealthy lust for UI Design this December. It has been been a great ride for us and we couldn’t be happier with the support we’ve been receiving from you, our readers. Thank you!

Having come across such great examples of works by a variety of designers and “pixel pushers”, we decided to do something different as we end this year. Thanks to The Great Annual iTunes Connect Shutdown of 2012, there won’t be much activity on the iOS or Mac App Stores. So all this week, we’ll be publishing a ‘Best of 2012′ series of posts. We’ll be highlighting and featuring our picks of what we think are the best examples of exceptional icon design, UI design etc.

We begin the series with our picks of some of the Best App Icons that came out in 2012. Now, quite literally, there are thousands of apps out there, on all popular platforms, with icons that are truly works of art. However, we’re only looking at icons that came out in 2012. Moreover, this is a list of the icons that we (that’s Preshit & Mikhail) think stood out from the rest. If you think that we missed one, or if some app deserved to be on the list here, let us know on Twitter or Here’s our list, in no particular order.

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