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The 21 Best-Designed Apps Of 2013

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  • <p><strong>Bang With Friends</strong><br />
Everyone has at least one friend he or she would like to, you know, be more than friendly with. That’s the premise behind Bang With Friends, a crude Facebook extension that plays to our basest desires. A clever bit of design helps: With the click of a button, you can choose Facebook friends you’d like to bang. But those people would never know--unless they clicked that they wanted to bang you, too. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671867/bang-with-friends-aims-to-become-facebooks-klout-for-banging" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Mem:O</strong><br />
Imagine if your most tedious tasks--from managing expenses to doing pushups--could become a beautiful, empowering infographic. Well...stop imagining! [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3016914/you-as-infographic-see-your-life-story-told-in-pop-hued-charts" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Drawnimal</strong><br />
Children place an iPad on a sheet of paper. They see the face of an animal, and it’s up to them--and a pencil--to complete the image on paper. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672483/a-clever-ipad-app-gets-kids-drawing-on-paper-again" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>DotDotDot</strong><br />
This iPad app, by Pentagram’s Abbot Miller, traps a man in your iPad. It is the spiritual successor to Miller’s previous project, Fifth Wall, which explored how the tight real estate of a tablet screen inherently affects media. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1673038/pentagram-s-new-ipad-app-traps-a-man-in-a-box" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>What You Click Is What You Wear</strong><br />
This prototype, by Jinha Lee, hacks an iPhone to allow you to try on clothing virtually. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671987/fresh-from-ted-a-mind-blowing-app-that-could-remake-mobile-retail" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>French Girls</strong><br />
You share a photo of anything you like, and the world draws it, hilariously. The app’s secret to steady usage? Everyone has to draw someone else’s photo before they can post one. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672338/how-an-ingenious-app-hooks-you-on-drawing-pics-of-strangers" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Facebook Home</strong><br />
It may not have changed the world, but Facebook Home still represented the design coup of the year: Take over Android’s mindshare by putting Facebook on its home screen. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672327/why-facebook-home-matters-even-if-it-fails" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Tinder</strong><br />
Technically, this real world-based dating app launched in 2012. But in 2013, the team behind it told us all their dirty design secrets. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672215/4-design-lessons-from-tinder-the-white-hot-dating-app" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Knock</strong><br />
Here’s the premise: Forget passwords, just knock to unlock your Macbook. Boom. The incredibly overconfident video demo is just icing on the cake. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3021370/innovation-by-design/better-than-a-password-to-unlock-your-mac-just-knock" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Say The Same Thing</strong><br />
Two people each guess a word. Then they guess again. And very quickly, through some sort of magic, they guess the exact same word from the 171,476 words in the English language. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672705/warning-this-addictive-word-game-induces-clairvoyance" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Snapchat and Vine</strong><br />
Maybe more than any other services, Vine and Snapchat defined the rapidly changing landscape of social media in 2013. Here’s our analysis of the stupid-simple gesture that’s made them both uber addictive. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671720/the-secret-sauce-gesture-behind-vine-and-snapchat" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Coast</strong><br />
Web browsers have never been an amazing experience when scaled to touch-screen tablets. But Coast, by Opera, reimagines the browser as a full-screen, app-ified interface. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3017203/an-ipad-browser-that-turns-the-worldwide-web-into-a-sea-of-apps" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Hundreds</strong><br />
Rendered in a mere three colors, Hundreds is a game of dots that is insanely addictive. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671585/an-intriguing-ipad-puzzle-rendered-in-just-3-colors" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Modernist Cuisine At Home</strong><br />
Nathan Myhrvold never saw his gorgeously printed Modernist Cuisine series as a digital book until Inkling convinced him otherwise. The catch? The company would spend the next nine months building this lofty app. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3021527/modernist-cuisines-first-ipad-app-may-be-better-than-the-book" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Airbnb</strong><br />
Words like “seamless” get thrown around a lot in software. Airbnb’s latest app, designed to match iOS 7 at its core, leverages streamlined interface and rich photography to create a surprisingly robust experience that feels perfect for the iPhone. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3021487/design-50/how-airbnbs-new-app-embraces-ios7" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Avocado</strong> <br />
What if you could actually hug someone through your phone? It would be amazing. And Avocado makes that happen. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3020705/an-app-that-you-hug-and-hugs-you-back" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Level Money</strong><br />
Do you have enough spare cash to buy a latte today? Level Money will tell you through a clear interface that makes budgeting mindless and instantaneous. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3019785/level-money-wants-to-be-mint-for-millennials" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Plotagon</strong><br />
What if making a movie were as simple as typing a script? That’s the premise behind Plotagon, a young piece of software that’s definitely on to something big. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3020128/type-your-own-animated-movie-with-this-crazy-software" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>The Winston Show</strong><br />
If you’re going to leave Pixar, you’d better be planning something big. And Toy Talk, who released the Winston Show this year, is doing just that. Its freshman app is pushing the boundaries of storytelling through an age-old, most human of mediums: conversation. [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3017284/how-pixar-alums-are-reimagining-storytelling-on-the-ipad" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • <p><strong>Mailbox</strong><br />
It’s probably the greatest success story of 2013: By alums of Apple and Ideo, Mailbox tackled the elusive task of “inbox zero” by enabling the simplest of gestures: a swipe to manage your email. (An idea so good that Dropbox would buy the company, and Apple would actually rip it off in iOS 7!) [<a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671820/mailbox-an-ideo-vets-remarkable-bid-to-reinvent-mobile-email" target="_self">Link</a>]</p>
  • 01 /21

    Hatch
    15,000 frames of hand-drawn animation can’t be wrong: Hatch is a Disney-caliber virtual pet app that raises the bar for what an iPad app can look like. [Link]

  • 02 /21

    Bang With Friends
    Everyone has at least one friend he or she would like to, you know, be more than friendly with. That’s the premise behind Bang With Friends, a crude Facebook extension that plays to our basest desires. A clever bit of design helps: With the click of a button, you can choose Facebook friends you’d like to bang. But those people would never know--unless they clicked that they wanted to bang you, too. [Link]

  • 03 /21

    Mem:O
    Imagine if your most tedious tasks--from managing expenses to doing pushups--could become a beautiful, empowering infographic. Well...stop imagining! [Link]

  • 04 /21

    Drawnimal
    Children place an iPad on a sheet of paper. They see the face of an animal, and it’s up to them--and a pencil--to complete the image on paper. [Link]

  • 05 /21

    DotDotDot
    This iPad app, by Pentagram’s Abbot Miller, traps a man in your iPad. It is the spiritual successor to Miller’s previous project, Fifth Wall, which explored how the tight real estate of a tablet screen inherently affects media. [Link]

  • 06 /21

    What You Click Is What You Wear
    This prototype, by Jinha Lee, hacks an iPhone to allow you to try on clothing virtually. [Link]

  • 07 /21

    French Girls
    You share a photo of anything you like, and the world draws it, hilariously. The app’s secret to steady usage? Everyone has to draw someone else’s photo before they can post one. [Link]

  • 08 /21

    Facebook Home
    It may not have changed the world, but Facebook Home still represented the design coup of the year: Take over Android’s mindshare by putting Facebook on its home screen. [Link]

  • 09 /21

    Tinder
    Technically, this real world-based dating app launched in 2012. But in 2013, the team behind it told us all their dirty design secrets. [Link]

  • 10 /21

    Knock
    Here’s the premise: Forget passwords, just knock to unlock your Macbook. Boom. The incredibly overconfident video demo is just icing on the cake. [Link]

  • 11 /21

    Say The Same Thing
    Two people each guess a word. Then they guess again. And very quickly, through some sort of magic, they guess the exact same word from the 171,476 words in the English language. [Link]

  • 12 /21

    Snapchat and Vine
    Maybe more than any other services, Vine and Snapchat defined the rapidly changing landscape of social media in 2013. Here’s our analysis of the stupid-simple gesture that’s made them both uber addictive. [Link]

  • 13 /21

    Coast
    Web browsers have never been an amazing experience when scaled to touch-screen tablets. But Coast, by Opera, reimagines the browser as a full-screen, app-ified interface. [Link]

  • 14 /21

    Hundreds
    Rendered in a mere three colors, Hundreds is a game of dots that is insanely addictive. [Link]

  • 15 /21

    Modernist Cuisine At Home
    Nathan Myhrvold never saw his gorgeously printed Modernist Cuisine series as a digital book until Inkling convinced him otherwise. The catch? The company would spend the next nine months building this lofty app. [Link]

  • 16 /21

    Airbnb
    Words like “seamless” get thrown around a lot in software. Airbnb’s latest app, designed to match iOS 7 at its core, leverages streamlined interface and rich photography to create a surprisingly robust experience that feels perfect for the iPhone. [Link]

  • 17 /21

    Avocado
    What if you could actually hug someone through your phone? It would be amazing. And Avocado makes that happen. [Link]

  • 18 /21

    Level Money
    Do you have enough spare cash to buy a latte today? Level Money will tell you through a clear interface that makes budgeting mindless and instantaneous. [Link]

  • 19 /21

    Plotagon
    What if making a movie were as simple as typing a script? That’s the premise behind Plotagon, a young piece of software that’s definitely on to something big. [Link]

  • 20 /21

    The Winston Show
    If you’re going to leave Pixar, you’d better be planning something big. And Toy Talk, who released the Winston Show this year, is doing just that. Its freshman app is pushing the boundaries of storytelling through an age-old, most human of mediums: conversation. [Link]

  • 21 /21

    Mailbox
    It’s probably the greatest success story of 2013: By alums of Apple and Ideo, Mailbox tackled the elusive task of “inbox zero” by enabling the simplest of gestures: a swipe to manage your email. (An idea so good that Dropbox would buy the company, and Apple would actually rip it off in iOS 7!) [Link]

There were 50 bajillion apps released last year, at least according to Apple. Buried in that pile of steaming, microtransaction-driven zombie-laden garbage, we found a few stellar pieces of software that question the limitations of user interface as we know it. These are the lovingly designed apps that are pushing the entire medium forward, raising the bar for what software can be.

So please, explore the gallery above to see our picks for the best apps of the year. As with any roundup, we've undoubtedly made some oversights. So we encourage all of you to share your favorite apps of 2013 in the comments.