Top mobile applications on Google Play in 2021

The Google Play Store launched under the name Android Market on October 22, 2008, with just 13 apps. That’s an amusing number when you consider there were about 2.74 million apps on the Play Store as of September 2021 according to Statista.

The mind-blowing diversity of apps and games can quickly confuse users. So many options to choose from makes it challenging to find the best app. Consequently, even useful apps have difficulty getting recognized. That’s why in 2016, Google established its annual “Best of” awards with the noble intention of drawing the public’s attention to the best new apps, games, and content.  

Google Play encourages users to nominate apps, movies, TV shows, and books for its awards and asks Play Store editors to compile their own lists of these products. This mix of consumers’ and experts’ opinions helps users be heard and at the same time not miss valuable new products. 

Google Play’s Best of 2021

The winners of Google Play’s Best of awards were traditionally announced during Google I/O, an annual developer conference held by Google in Mountain View, California. In 2020, however, the conference was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the announcement date was moved to November. 

This year, just like before, Google Play’s Best Users’ Choice 2021 allowed people to pick their favorite content and trending apps. The voting process was simple. Users simply logged in to their Google accounts via a compatible device to explore Play Store content. They could vote until November 17th, and Google announced all the Best of 2021 winners on November 29th.

For this year’s competition, several new categories were added: best apps and games for tablets along with best apps for Wear OS and Google TV.

Google Play’s best games of 2021

According to Statista, gaming apps account for 80 percent of Google Play Store revenue. Alongside the winner of the Best Game of 2021 award, chosen by Play Store editors, Google announced the Users’ Choice Game of 2021 winner and winners in particular categories. Let’s explore the results.

Best Android games of 2021 

Since Android boasts more users globally than iOS, gaming apps for Android can be played by the largest audience. In 2021, Google Play had five separate game awards categories and announced the five best games in each.

Indie games. These are games built by indie developers that are exceptional in terms of their design and overall gameplay. This year’s winners are:

  • 7 Billion Humans
  • Bird Alone
  • Donut County
  • My Friend Pedro: Ripe for Revenge
  • Puzzling Peaks EXE


Competitive games. These games pit players against each other. The winners in the competitive games category are:

  • League of Legends: Wild Rift
  • MARVEL Future Revolution
  • Pokémon UNITE
  • Rogue Land
  • Suspects: Mystery Mansion

 

Pick up & play games. These games are easy to learn and usually have simple and comprehensible controls, a small learning curve, and clear objectives. This year’s pick up & play games winners are:

  • Cats in Time
  • Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!
  • Disney POP TOWN
  • Switchcraft
  • Towers

 

Game changers. Each game on this shortlist has had a significant impact on the gaming industry in its own fashion. Inked, for example, is solely based on ballpoint pen drawings, and it also breaks the fourth wall: your character interacts with the Artist, the person responsible for drawing the game world. Here’s the full winners list of game-changers:

  • Inked
  • JanKenUP!
  • Knights of San Francisco
  • Overboard!
  • Tears of Themis

 

Best for tablets. These games were created specifically to be played on tablets such as Galaxy Tab. The winners for Google Play Store Awards 2021 in this new category are:

  • Chicken Police — Paint it RED!
  • League of Legends: Wild Rift
  • My Friend Pedro: Ripe for Revenge
  • Overboard!
  • The Procession to Calvary

 

Best game of 2021 chosen by Google Play

Google Play proclaimed Pokémon UNITE the Best Game of 2021. This successor to the famous Pokémon franchise features multiplayer competitive battles and training your own Pokémons. 

The Play Store editors chose this multiplayer battle arena game as the year’s best game as it offers dynamic gameplay, a cross-platform experience, and competitiveness. 


pokemon unite a multiplayer online battle arena game


Users’ Choice Game of 2021

In November 2021, Google introduced a list of nominated games users could vote for:

  • MARVEL Future Revolution
  • The Walking Dead: Survivors
  • Beatstar — Touch Your Music
  • Battlegrounds Mobile India
  • Project Makeover
  • League of Legends: Wild Rift
  • Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!
  • Score! Hero 2
  • Garena Free Fire MAX
  • Pokémon UNITE

 

Which did users choose?

Google Play users chose Garena Free Fire MAX as the year’s best game. This app’s popularity is high since it represents the battle royale genre, which has been extremely popular in recent years and offers highly dynamic and competitive solo or squad-based gameplay. 

Garena takes advantage of Firelink technology that allows you to log into your Free Fire account and play Free Fire MAX. Items and progress are maintained throughout both apps.


garena free max a multiplayer battle royale game

Best Android apps of 2021

In addition to the Best App of 2021 selected by Play Store editors, Google announced the Users’ Choice App of 2021 and winners in particular categories. Let’s begin with these categories. 

Best Android applications of 2021

In 2021, Google decided to select the best applications that promote personal growth. Therefore, this year’s winners are mostly distinguished by creativity and “know yourself” vibes.

When announcing the winners of the Google Play Best of awards this November, Google decided to pay attention to apps that are reshaping the world. This year, Google Play Market showcased the best apps in eight categories.

Everyday Essentials

This category includes calming, planner, cooking, and communication apps:

  • Blossom
  • PhotoRoom
  • Rabit

blossom an app for plant identification and care

Apps for Personal Growth

This category includes self-improvement, video editing, and language learning apps:

  • Balance
  • Clementine
  • Uptime

 

Best Hidden Gems

This category includes social, travel, mental health, and design apps:

  • Laughscape
  • Moonbeam
  • Moonly

 

Best Apps for Fun

This category includes design, video streaming, video editing, audio recording, and entertainment apps:

  • Clubhouse
  • Noobly
  • Whatifi

clubhouse a voice chat social network app

Best Apps for Good

This category includes apps for healthy grocery shopping, meditation, and charities:

  • Empathy
  • Mentor Spaces
  • Speechify


Best Apps for Tablets

These apps were created specifically to be used on tablets. The winners in this new category for 2021 are:

  • Canva
  • Concepts
  • Houzz

houzz a home design app
 

Best Apps for Wear OS

Wear OS, an operating system for Android wearable devices such as smartwatches, received its own category in 2021. The winners in this category are:

  • Calm
  • MyFitnessPal
  • Sleep Cycle

myfitnesspal a meal managing and calorie counting app
 

Popular on Google TV

Another new category for 2021 features applications created specifically for the Google TV service. The most popular apps in this category are:

  • Disney+
  • ESPN
  • Tubi


Best app of 2021 chosen by Google Play

The winner of the 2021 Best App nomination, Balance, represents the overall focus on personal growth we mentioned earlier.

Balance is a meditation and sleep management app. It uses information about your goals, experience, and preferences to tailor your own personal meditation plan. The more you share, the more customized it becomes. 


balance a meditation and sleep management app


Users’ Choice App of 2021

Let’s see the list of Best App nominees: 

  • BitClass: Learn Anything. Live. Together!
  • Sortizy: Recipes, Meal Planner, and Grocery Lists
  • Evolve Mental Health
  • Being: Your Mental Health Friend
  • Clubhouse: The Social Audio App
  • EMBIBE: Learning
  • Guardians — Personal & Family Safety
  • SARVA — Yoga & Meditation
  • FrontRow: Learn Singing, Music, Rap, Comedy & More
  • Evergreen Club: Health, Fitness, Fun & Learning

 

Just like Disney+, which won last year’s Google Play Users’ Choice award, this year’s winner, Paramount+ is a streaming digital distribution service that provides live sports, breaking news, and a plethora of shows from CBS, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and other channels. Apps for home and family entertainment are still very popular due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s it for Google Play’s Best of 2021 awards. Since 2016, the Google Play awards have been a promising opportunity for app developers to get noticed and a great way for users to explore the top mobile apps and games.

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