What apps have stood out the most from the iOS app store in the last year? Surely, you have your phone filled with games and tools that helped you get through the year. You may even have dozens you deleted after seeing how buggy or ineffective they were. 

Either way, you’ve likely missed out on one (or several) apps worth checking out. Here’s a quick review of the best iOS apps that came out in the last year.

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    Someone playing a game on an iPhone

    Affinity Publisher

    Sometimes, you want to design a quality magazine page, book cover, or blog post using your smartphone or tablet. When this itch comes along, you can expect Affinity Publisher to scratch it. 

    This app was developed by Serif Labs and is deemed to be an advanced pro publishing software. It allows you to combine images, text, and graphics to develop gorgeous layouts suitable for that “publish” button.

    Affinity Publisher windows

    In years past, you could only get this level of quality from desktop software. Not anymore — and it can still be yours for the price tag of $49.99. 


    This app not only makes it to the list — it also earned a 2019 Design Award. It’s another application designed for creatives who like to draw. It comes with digital graphite pencils, as well as chisel-tipped markers for you to draw and sketch whatever comes to mind. 

    Flow app window

    What makes it different than other similar apps is that it looks as good as something you’d create in real life. 

    This app is free to use but does come with in-app purchases. Plus, it’s available to use on your iPhone or iPad

    Sky: Children of the Light

    Here’s a fun game created by a studio responsible for Journey (which won Game of the Year in 2013). The Apple marketplace is flooded with free games, but this one takes the cake because of its gorgeous artistic design. 

    So if you missed out on downloading this app, then you can do so today for free. 

    Spectre Camera

    Selfies, vacation shots, and foodie photos will always be popular to make. So it’s no surprise that bigger and better apps will come along to make your photographs amazing. 

    Spectre was created by the same minds that built Halide (another popular camera app you may be familiar with). Using this tool, you can capture long exposures using just your iPhone or iPad. 

    Spectre Camera features list

    Want to capture photos in motion? No problem. You can take snapshots of waterfalls in action and the infamous street traffic where the lights are a blur. 

    Unfortunately, this app isn’t free. However, it doesn’t cost much — just $2.99 and it’s yours. 

    Sayonara Wild Hearts

    This may have flown under your radar, especially if you’re not a subscriber of Apple Arcade. This recently launched this fall and deserves a spot on this list. 

    Sayonara Wild Hearts screen

    You’ll find this game attractive if you enjoy zipping through dazzling scenes while bumping to electro-pop. You get to pick between different vehicles, such as skateboards and motorcycles. 

    What makes it a different driving game — you get to swing a sword as you go. You can join in the fun by paying $4.99 per month (you’ll also get access to a wide range of other app games). 

    The Explorers

    If you’re a National Geographic lover, then you’ll enjoy using The Explorers. This app works with your iPhone and iPad, but to get the most out of it, you should display it on a large high-definition TV (using the TV app). 

    The Explorers app

    In this app, you’ll find a variety of captivating visuals created by some of the world’s best photographers and videographers. You’ll see nature and wildlife up close and personal. 

    Best of all, it’s free to download (with in-app purchases). 

    Hyper Light Drifter

    Another game makes it to the list — this time for the hack and slash lovers. Aside from slicing your way through enemies, you’ll enjoy amazing graphic design and audio throughout your journey. 

    Hyper Light Drifter game images

    It has a pixel-art style, but the workmanship is a masterpiece. According to the CEO, you’re better off playing this 2D game on an iPad Pro. It works well with touchscreens, as well as controllers. 

    If you’re into 16-bit adventure games, then this should be your next download. You can get it for just under $5. 


    There’s a game for everyone — or at least it seems when you’re an iOS device owner. Here’s something a little different than the slashers and racing games you’ll find on the market. 

    Gris is a story-based game that takes you on a rich experience into a girl’s life. Gris is a young girl who is dealing with pain and sorrow. While you won’t have to worry about danger and death, you will get to play around with cool powers and abilities. 

    Gris game screens

    The artwork is stunning and the animations are detailed. You’ll make it through the game by solving puzzles (nothing too complex), platform sequences, and other challenges that require you to use your skills. 

    You can get this app for your iPhone or iPad for $1.99. 

    What iOS Apps Did You Miss?

    Have you tried any or all of the apps on this list? If not, you may find one or two worth the download. It’s interesting to see which apps perform the best each year as the list of all-time most popular apps usually doesn’t change much. If you look at a shorter time frame, like the last year, you normally will get a more varied list like the one above. Enjoy!