It’s been 10 years since Apple launched the App Store on July 10, 2008, a day before the release of the iPhone 3G.
On day dot, there were just 500 apps were available for download. That might not seem like many by 2018 standards, but the launch became a defining moment in the evolution of smartphones, tablets and other smart devices.
Now, the App Store has more than 2.2 million apps and counting. From gaming, entertainment, travel and sport to finance, education, fitness and health, 20 million Apple developers from around the world have earned a combined US$100 billion from the platform to date.
Apple isn’t just sitting on its haunches and enjoying the success, either. The launch of ARKit in 2017 proved the tech giant is intent on continually expanding the App Store, and one only needs to check out some of the mind-blowing augmented reality apps to see it first-hand. There are already 3,000 AR apps available on the App Store, but don’t be surprised to see this number skyrocket in the near future as AR becomes a staple of everyday life.
Given the App Store is celebrating its 10th birthday, we took a trip down memory lane and compiled a list of the most iconic titles from its most popular category: games.
How could we start with anything other than the classic Australian app, Fruit Ninja? First released by Halfbrick in April 2010, the game became an instant hit and remains one of the most-downloaded mobile games of all time. We’re not surprised, either – who doesn’t enjoy the therapeutic *splat* as you slice and dice colourful, juicy fruit?
Angry Birds Classic
Few games on any platform have seen such far-reaching success as Angry Birds, the best-selling paid app in history. Since Rovio Entertainment released the original game for iOS in December 2009, the franchise has expanded to include 20 sequels and spin-off games, a TV series and a film adaptation. It also became a huge hit in the merchandise game with toys, paperbacks and even cookbooks hitting shelves around the world.
Is the nostalgia kicking in yet? The simple but deceivingly addictive Temple Run from Imangi Studios is one of the original ‘endless running’ games that paved the way for titles like Super Mario Run and Subway Surfers. The slow, increasingly stressful crescendo as the speed of the game increases is enough of a thrill to have us retrying again and again and again… and again.
Words With Friends
While a number of word games hit the App Store soon after its inception, none popularised the genre quite like Newtoy’s Words With Friends. Although the game is, for the most part, a shiny remake of Scrabble, the game hit the sweet spot and has been a hit in the App Store ever since. If you’re yet to have the pleasure of playing, take note: for a game with ‘Friends’ in the title, it sure has a knack for starting bitter arguments.
If an app is downloaded 20 million times in its first five weeks in the App Store, you should be paying attention. OMGPop’s Draw Something capitalised on the trend started by Words With Friends: relaxed, turn-based multiplayer games. Effectively a form of virtual Pictionary, Draw Something makes even the least creative of us feel like true artists.
If you owned an iPhone or iPad between 2012 and 2014, you’ll know the dramatic success and subsequent removal of Flappy Bird all too well. Developed by video game artist Dong Nguyen in the space of a few days, the side-scrolling game completely exploded in popularity and became the top free game on the App Store by 2014 – only for Nguyen to remove the game a month later due to guilt over its addictive nature. If you want to play it in 2018, your options are to settle for a copycat title or spend a fortune on an old smartphone with the game pre-installed.
Why did the chicken cross the road? Because the mobile game junkie couldn’t stop playing Crossy Road. Developed by Hipster Whale out of Melbourne, the Frogger-inspired title earned an Apple Design Award at WWDC 2015 and became a must-have for fans of the arcade genre.
For years, school teachers have been searching far and wide for the secret to getting kids to think maths is cool. The solution? Develop a simple, slick and impossibly addictive sliding puzzle game that pretends it isn’t training your brain (hint: it is). This writer admits to spending countless hours chasing the elusive 2048 tile – only to never reach the milestone.
Cut The Rope
If you didn’t play Zeptolab’s Cut The Rope in the early days of the App Store, you haven’t lived. The game is characterised by a charming little creature named ‘Om Nom’, who needs to be fed candy in a series of puzzling challenges. As of 2018, the game has been downloaded more than a billion times across the world. Just cut the rope, dummy!
The rise of Pokémon Go was unlike anything the world has ever seen. Launched by Niantic in 2016, the AR app captured the world’s imagination in a matter of weeks and had over half a billion downloads by the end of the year – making $500 million in revenue faster than any other game in history. Although Pokémon Go’s popularity dropped as quickly as it rose, Niantic is still intent on improving the game to maintain its loyal player base.