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November 30, 2021
☕ Good morning! Christmas lights are going up in a small park with trees near me and it's just that time of the year... keep scrolling for more about why it's so dark at 52.5 degrees North.
2021's best apps and games according to Google
Google Play Store 2021 2
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

The end of the year is now pretty much here and that means we’ll see a steady list of awards handed out to phones, gadgets, devices, games, apps, and you know, stuff.

Don’t take it as a complaint: I like these lists. They’re useful for unearthing things you missed, tracking through the years, revisiting, and for helping make decisions on what to buy for Christmas, too.

And, for apps and games, best-of-the-year lists tend to catch me by surprise with new and useful stuff. Plus, you get an insight into the ongoing times: for example, this year, like last year, Google Play’s team is really leaning in on mindfulness apps.

Anyway, there are both editorial awards and user’s choice awards, too, and each country has its own list, so take a look at your local winners here

I’ll list a bunch of the US winners below, but the overall winner, Balance, offers a personalized meditation program, which is nice. I didn’t know this existed, so that’s fun. AndPokémon UNITE won best game, and did well with users too, so it might be worth a look if you haven’t tried it yet. 

One weird winner:

  • For some reason, Paramount+ won the user’s best app. 
  • Paramount+?! It’s too weird to be anything other than funny. It’s just another streaming app, and it’s not amazing, it doesn’t redefine anything.
  • Garena Free Fire MAX won the user’s award on the gaming front which is more or less fine, I don’t know.
  • But again Paramount+?? Does it winning make sense? Truly bizarre. It was mostly just a rebrand from the CBS All Access service app. If it wins, why not Netflix, why not Disney Plus, why not…look, I just don’t know. 

Otherwise… I’ll make some tiny comments on the winners below

App winners:

Best Apps for Good

Best Everyday Essentials

Best for Fun

Best Hidden Gems

Best for Personal Growth

Game winners: 

Best Competitive

Best Game Changers

Best Indies

Best Pick Up & Play

Best for Tablets

That’s it, that’s the list. Obviously, these are all apps on Android on Google Play, but you can grab nearly all of them, from what I saw, on iOS or via other app stores, or sideload, etc.


🐤 Twitter co-founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey, resigned from Twitter yesterday (not for the first time!), handing over to the technical-minded Parag Agrawal, who’s been at the company since 2011, and was previously at Microsoft and Yahoo in research positions. A lot of thoughts are out there about this, including if founder-led companies are the way to go. See TechCrunch, Axios, and The Verge.

🤦‍♂️ Someone at Amazon forgot to test the Appstore on Android 12. Yikes. (Android Authority).

💧 Fresh Honor 60 and Honor 60 Pro leaks leave little to the imagination (Android Authority).

📸 Realme confirms first premium flagship is coming, renders and specs leak: Realme GT 2 Pro (Android Authority).

👉 Two months in, Windows 11 is still a work in progress (Ars Technica).

🎮 Here’s a way to make your Nintendo Switch screen massive: dock it to a portable 11-inch monitor for $250 (Gizmodo).

🍎 I mentioned this yesterday in a link but it’s worth checking out if you missed it: Apple is exploring reverse and “true” wireless charging technology, which implies some kind of non-inductive/wireless power via another method, something like the Xiaomi Mi Air Charge that we made fun of for being distinctly unlikely to come to consumers, back in January this year (Ars Technica).

🔊 Sonos may be working on a mini subwoofer (Engadget).

📦 Amazon and Target play ‘outsized’ role in port congestion and pollution, report finds… which, I mean, who’s really to blame for people buying stuff? (The Verge).

❌ Now confirmed: “Facebook has been blocked from acquiring Giphy by the UK’s antitrust watchdog, which ordered the social network to sell off the GIF-sharing platform because the deal stifles competition for animated images.” (AP).

⛓ This may be impenetrable but Ethereum’s usefulness as a cryptocurrency of choice is being killed by its wildly high gas fees. Now co-founder Vitalik Buterin proposes calldata limit per block to lower ETH gas costs (CoinTelegraph).

Physicists detect Neutrinos for first time ever using the Large Hadron Collider. Very weird to think trillions of neutrinos are passing through you as you read this sentence, but they’re all kinds of elusive! (Gizmodo).

🤔 “What is clearly a myth but is deep-rooted in our society?” (r/askreddit).

Chart Tuesday

Someone made a circular calendar showing how sunrise and sunset change throughout the year at different latitudes and I have a little version here but it’s worth checking out the bigger version if you’re into it:

sun latitude


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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