Google I/O is mostly reserved for a bunch of developer-related content, but Google knows how to have fun as well, and that's exactly what you get with their first-ever Google Play Awards that are going on right now during the conference. This special session is aimed at providing recognition (and real physical awards) to developers in specific categories for standout games. There are numerous categories listed, like Standout Indie and Best Use of Google Play Services, two of which seem like obvious categories to pick a winner from as the Google Play team holds a special in their hearts for indie developers, and Google Play Services is baked into everything, so, naturally they're categories that make sense.
Google kicks things off with the Standout Indie category. Indie games are an important section of the gaming industry and they span a wide range of genre types. Google recently launched the Indie Corner inside of Google Play to highlight some of the best games from indie developers. Here's the list of for the category. The winner of Standout Indie is Alphabear, a word puzzle game which rewards you with points for growing your bears larger, which only appear on screen as you select letters on a grid. Other nominees for this category were Alto's Adventure, Fast Like A Fox, Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector, and Prune.
Best Use of Google Play Game Services
For the most part, Google Play Game Services can be considered the backbone of the great gaming experience that is available on Android today. It adds a richness to the overall experience with things like leaderboards, multiplayer capabilities, achievements, cloud saves, and more, and weaves everything together to form a community of users who enjoy mobile games and simply want to share that passion with others that enjoy mobile games as much as they do. The winner of this particular award is Table Tennis Touch, while the remaining nominees are Sea Battle 2, Tapventures, Tower Madness 2, and Zombie Highway 2.
Best Use Of Material Design
Material Design should be self-explanatory as it's been around on the Android platform since the launch of Lollipop. Apps with material design elements should be at their core, simplistic, yet also intuitive and colorful with a noticeable vibrancy to it. The winner for best use of material design is Robinhood, while the remaining nominees are Bring!, Fabulous, Todoist, and Vevo.
As indie developers are important the gaming community, startup developers are important to the Play Store as a whole as they can bring in unique experiences that are new to the Android ecosystem. Oftentimes these apps can be in beta, and Google is now helping these startup developers to get better exposure with the newly announced Early Access Program. The winner of this particular category is Hopper, while the remaining nominees are Dubsmash, musical.ly, Robinhood, and Vrse.
Best Families App
The times we spend with our families can be some of the best times, and they're also important as family is a thing that will generally always be around and be there for you. Although things have changed in the way that we interact as families these days with the advancement of smartphones and other technology, family-oriented apps have made it possible for us to continue engaging with our families and new and inventive ways that can still be fun. The winner of this particular category is Thinkrolls 2, while the remaining nominees are Card Wars – Adventure Time, LEGO Jurassic World, My Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Toca Nature.
Sometimes traditional and more of the same is a good thing. It feels safe and familiar and people often like safe and familiar. Sometimes, though, innovative and unique new ways of doing things can help to push the boundaries of technology and this can translate into apps as well. Innovative new apps bring something to the table that no one else is doing, and this can lead to more efficiency, more fun, or an overall improved experience, and that's what this category celebrates. The winner for this category is NYT VR, while the remaining nominees are Fabulous, Fast Like a Fox, SmartNews, and This War of Mine.
The early adopter category celebrates developers that are willing to take on extremely difficult challenges of trying something different, even if it isn't the safe route. Early adopters challenge themselves and their teams day in and day out all for the reward of hopefully offering something up that is truly groundbreaking and life changing. The winner of this particular category is World Around Me, while the remaining nominees are Glide, Mechanic Escape, Minecraft: Story Mode, and Zumper.
Having a successful app is difficult in itself, but it's made all the more difficult when you want to take your app on a global scale and localize your apps for other countries. This proves to have its own set of challenges, and this category celebrates those developers which have exemplified what it means to truly take go global with their app. The winner of this particular category is Pokemon Shuffle Mobile, while the remaining nominees are Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle, Freeletics Bodyweight, Memrise, and Musixmatch.
There are so many apps available on Google Play these days that it can be hard to wrap your head around them all. Having said that, there are quite a few amazing ones that are well deserving of the title of best app. To be the very best, though, the app should not only stand out in design, but should also offer an exemplary user experience, perform well, and be continuously engaging time and time again. The winner of this particular category is Houzz, while the remaining nominees are BuzzFeed News, Colorfy, Tunein Radio, and Yummly.
Having the best game follows along the same lines as the best app, but they also push the very limits of Android device capabilities while also engaging and delighting users in fun and immersive ways that are hard to put down. They also tend to have an uncanny way of getting users to spread the word about how awesome and fun they are to their friends and family, making them that much more popular. The winner of this particular category is Clash Royale, while the remaining nominees are Alphabear, Clash of Kings, Marvel Future Fight, and Star Wars Galaxy Of Heroes.