Google has held their second annual Google Play Awards on the second day of Google I/O 2017, building on the recognition that Google held last year for some of the most noteworthy developers of apps and games. Last year Google ran through a range of different categories from Best Game to Going Global, and this year Google will be listing off the winners for all new categories along with returning categories like those listed above in addition to Best App, Best Families App, and others. Developers work hard all year to bring users the most intuitive, most fun, and most innovative apps and games and Google is giving a little bit back by shining the spotlight on those that stood out the most.
Indie games hold a special place in the hearts of many gamers, and not just because some of the content that comes out of indie studios is breathtaking, but also because they tend to showcase what can really be done with even a small team of dedicated individuals. The winner for this year's Standout Indie app is actually a game called Mushroom 11, a recently released puzzle title that features some pretty awesome visuals and intensely imaginative landscapes. The runners up include Causality, Kingdom: New Lands, Reigns, and Mars: Mars.
As the name of this category suggests the apps in this particular category are all coming out of startups, which not unlike Indie studios can have smaller teams, though not always. Starting a business cane be an especially challenging task and taking that risk to launch a startup deserves some recognition in itself, but even more so when you use that startup to create an app that seeks to offer something unique and engaging. The winner of Standout Startup is Hooked, an app which offers users a collection of thrilling "edge-of-your-seat" stories that are all told through the medium of chat. It's a fresh idea that actually caught on and has grown to include a massive number of users. The runners up for this category are Discord, Simple Habit, CastBox, and Digit.
Best Android Wear Experience
Android Wear has grown into a bustling platform for wearables especially since the launch of Android Wear 2.0 which brought a handful of nice improvements. That said the platform is still growing and has plenty of room to grow too, but there are still some awesome apps which are already available for the platform that are getting daily use. The winner for Best Android Wear Experience is Runtastic Running & Fitness, which lets users do anything from track their runs to their calories burned, their distance and pace, and even get audio feedback from a voice coach to keep you motivated. The Runners up for this category are Lifesum, Bring!, and Foursquare.
Best TV Experience
As Android TV continues to evolve and add new and exciting features, so to does the library of Android TV native applications that offer awesome content for those who have a compatible device that runs the platform. The winner for Best TV Experience is Redbull TV. While a big portion of it will be filled with videos of action-related sports, there's also coverage of events, music, and sports too, and what better way to watch this exciting content than on the big screen where pictures are vibrant and well... large. The runners up for this category are Netflix, Haystack TV, AbemaTV, and KKBOX.
Best VR Experience
While VR has been around for more than just the past six months to a year, Google's first VR headset (not counting Cardboard) didn't release until the Fall of 2016. Since then there have been a number of apps and games that have been pushed out for Daydream and many of them are quite good, pulling the user into their worlds and immersing them in some of the most captivating universes out there. The winner of Best VR Experience is Virtual Virtual Reality, a game which tasks the player with trying to escape the future of an A.I.-driven world where everything is automated and humans are sort of obsolete when it comes to jobs. It lets you put on a VR headset in virtual reality, so you're essentially diving into VR while already in VR, and you can do all sorts of crazy things. The runners up for this category are, The Arcslinger, Gunjack 2: End Of Shift, Mekorama VR, and The Turning Forest.
Best AR Experience
Much like virtual reality, augmented reality is capable of some pretty amazing things too, as it blends the real world around us with the digital world that we usually hold in our hands. The winner for Best AR Experience is Woorld, a sandbox game which lets you play with digital toys in the real world while interacting with all kinds of fun characters and other digital objects. The runners up for this category are Crayola Color Blaster, Holo, WayfairView, and Dinosaurs Among Us.
Best App For Kids
Kids are the future so why not help that along by giving them something to play with that is not only fun but also engaging, and seeks to foster their creativity in a number of ways. All of the apps in this category do a great job at getting kids to explore and tap into their inspiration, while also being fun and keeping them entertained. The winner for Best App For Kids is Animal Jam - Play Wild!, a casual game that lets kids explore a huge 3D world while taking on the persona of a number of different animals to represent them as their avatar. The game can teach them about real animals and the habitats they live in, while also letting them complete fun quests and chat with other players. The runners up for this category are Hot Wheels: Race Off, Teeny Titans, Toca Life: Vacation, and Think! Think!.
Best Multiplayer Game
Multiplayer games can feel like the centerpiece of gaming as it does something that single-players games can't, it brings people together and lets them all enjoy some wonderful content whether just for a few minutes or a few hours. The winner for Best Multiplayer Game is Hearthstone, Blizzard Entertainment's wildly popular card battler that takes its inspirations, themes, characters, and really all of the content from the World of Warcraft universe. While you can play Hearthstone by yourself, it hinges mostly on competitive play against others to see who can best their opponent in a heated battle by laying down cards on the board to deplete their opponents health to 0, each card having a unique effect. The runners up for this category are Dawn of Titans, Fifa Mobile, Lords Mobile, and Modern Strike Online.
Apps come and go and there are plenty of them on Android, so it should come as no surprise that there was going to be another Best App category this year. The winner for Best App is Memrise, a language learning application that offers a collection of free learning courses in a vast amount of different languages from Japanese to Russian. It makes learning a new language easier than you would think it could be, and it does so while keeping things fun and sort of game like, while also offering users the ability to upgrade to higher levels of difficulty for their chosen language to help them become more proficient in it. The runners up for this category are Money Lover, Quik, Citymapper, and Fabulous.
Like best app, Best Game was a category that was available last year and just like then, it seeks to highlight the best of the best in the Android game department. There are lots of great games out there for Android, but these are the ones that have stood out the most, and the winner for Best Game is Transformers: Forged To Fight. This game lets you dive into the action as some of your favorite Transformers robots and engage in team battles, collect loot, and even set up bases you need to defend from your enemies. The runners up for this category are Fire Emblem: Heroes, Pokémon GO, Lineage 2 Revolution, and Choices.
Best Accessibility Experience
This is a new category for this year and it's one that attempts to highlight apps which make it easier for people to do things like communicate with others to just making things simple and more automated and convenient. The winner for Best Accessibility Experience is IFTTT, which basically lets you automate all sorts of tasks by creating things called applets. IFTTT can be used on your smartphone, but it can also integrate with smart home products to help automate all kinds of stuff like turning on and off lights. The runners up for this category are Open Sesame!, Swiftkey Symbols, A Blind Legend, and Eye-D.
Best Social Impact
Another new category for this year, Best Social Impact is highlighting apps which are making a pretty big difference on users at a global scale. The winner of Best Social Impact is an app called ShareTheMeal, which is an app that was designed and launched as a means for helping fight the issue of global hunger that kids across the world face each and every day. It's a charity app that allows use to help fund feeding children with the tap of a button, and you can see where your donations are headed and even learn more about World Hunger. The runners up for this category are Charity Miles, Peek Acuity, ProDeaf, and Sea Hero Quest.