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Google Play’s ‘Best of 2021’ Award Winners: Balance & UNITE

Google has announced the winners of its “Best of 2021” app awards, which recognize both Google and user favorites for the finest applications and games from last year.

This year, Google is adding tablet apps and games to its list of accolades, it claims. The site’s app of the year was meditation software Balance, while Pokémon UNITE was named best game. Meanwhile, Paramount+ and Garena Free Fire MAX won the user choice trophies.

The award winners in 2020 reflected a world beset by a pandemic, in which stressed users had turned to apps and soothing games to relax — such as top sleep app Loóna, which was last year’s “Best App,” or escapist games like winner Genshin Impact.

Some of this year’s award winners are apps that now focus on personal growth and creativity, rather than simply relaxing or escaping, in the aftermath of the pandemic’s early days.

This appears to reflect where we are as a society. We’ve witnessed the “great resignation,” in which American employees gave up their unfulfilling, underpaid work in favor of something better, and the creator economy took off as individuals pursued their interests.

Other personal development-styled winners include Moonly, an app for “harmonizing your life” with the lunar calendar; a “comedic relaxation” app called Laughscape; a hypnotherapy app for women, Clementine; improved sleep program Sleep Cycle; mentorship community Mentor Spaces; habit tracker and planner Rabit.

The following are some of the other winners that demonstrated how we adjusted to pandemic existence, including Clubhouse, tools for limiting screen time such as Speechify, and those for reconnecting with nature like Blossom: In addition to winner Balance, the full lineup of app winners includes the following:

Best Apps for Good 

Best Everyday Essentials 

Best for Fun 

Best Hidden Gems

Best for Personal Growth 

Best for Tablets  

Best for Wear 

Popular on Google TV

The best games of 2018 were dominated by Pokémon UNITE, which focused on cross-platform gaming.

“Pokémon Unite is Pokémon’s first strategic team battle game, co-developed by The Pokémon Company and TiMi Studio Group. We tried to distill the best parts of the MOBA genre to create a new kind of game, but I must admit that I was unsure if it would be well received by players around the world,” noted Masaaki Hoshino, Producer, Pokémon UNITE, in a statement. ”

This award shows that our game has been positively received by fans and the media, and while this is a great relief, at the same time it reaffirms our determination to continue doing our best to make Pokémon UNITE an even more exciting experience that meets our players’ expectations,” he added.

The bigger lineup included unusual independent experiences like the introspective Bird Alone, which asks you to become friends with the “loneliest bird in the world.” Among others, Donut County from Annapurna Interactive won for its physics-based puzzle game.

The complete list of game winners included:

Best Competitive 

Best Game Changers

Best Indies 

Best Pick Up & Play

Best for Tablets

Each nation’s selection of winning apps and games may be found in the new Best of 2021 area of the Play Store, which will be launched in early 2021. Here are Google Play’s US winners (so far).