On November 28, Apple celebrated the top app store games and apps of 2022—including BeReal, Apex Legends Mobile, and GoodNotes 5—and also recognized five apps as Cultural Impact Award winners.
According to Apple, the Cultural Impact app winners encouraged users to connect authentically with friends and family, and honored heritage and previous generations while proposing solutions to create a better world and future.
One of this year’s winners was the Locket widget, an increasingly popular addition to phone home screens that allows people to send Live Photos to their friends and family – while eliminating the pressure and formality of social media.
Founder Matt Moss told In The Know that he originally created the app as a birthday present for his girlfriend after they had been on long-distance calls for a few months.
“There was no ambition to release it on the App Store or to be a big thing or anything,” he explained. “I would show the app to our friends and they would all want to try it too. At that point it was just a private thing between us both, so we had to turn people away. But enough people started asking, so we decided to put it on the App Store.”
The intimacy of seeing the photos of your friends and loved ones on your home screen has resonated with many users. It mixed the silliness of Snapchat – except that the photos are kept in a gallery you can revisit – and the informality of BeReal – without the pressure of likes or comments.
“Suddenly, hundreds of thousands of people flocked to this little side project to take advantage of it,” Moss said. “What was even cooler was when a bunch of those early users who started downloading the app actually started making their own TikTok videos about it too.”
Since then, Locket has grown into a team of 10, raising money from investors like Sam Altman and Mike Krieger, who co-founded Instagram. Since the app’s official launch in January 2022, it has been downloaded over 30 million times and more than 1 billion photos have been sent through the app.
“I think it really comes back in the way of close friends and family,” Moss said, responding as to why he thought the app was so popular. “I think what people really like about it is that [Locket shows] only the people they really care about.”
Despite the number of social networking apps available, it’s seemingly rare to find something that feels personal and encourages a real connection. Another Cultural Impact Award winner, How We Feel, seeks to leverage this personal connection with friends and family to encourage more users to track their emotional well-being.
The app, founded by Marc Brackett, author, professor and director at the Yale University Center for Emotional Intelligence, and Ben Silbermann, co-founder of Pinterest, is a free wellness journal that helps users learn exactly how and specifically describe how they are feeling. It also helps users identify trends and patterns in their feelings, and provides therapist-backed strategies and advice to reshape how users view their emotions.
“What’s really cool is that when people start seeing this data, they often get glimpses of themselves,” Brackett told In The Know. “We encourage people to accept all of their emotions.”
“We say that all feelings are information and the decision to switch is yours,” Silbermann added. “The wellness industry sells happiness to people – ‘We make you happy or you feel happy all the time.’ But the problem is that it also sends the message that it’s not okay to be sad or angry. And actually, that’s not the healthiest message for people.”
The How We Feel Friends feature also helps users share their feelings with the people they trust the most. There’s no penalty for not checking into the app regularly, but the friend feature and notification reminders are gentle nudges for users to make rating their feelings a part of their regular routine.
“We wanted to include reminders because what’s going to happen is most people will call out when they’re having a strong, uncomfortable feeling, because that’s a signal, like, ‘something’s wrong, I need help,'” Brackett explained. “We don’t want people to have a wrong picture of their emotional lives.”
“I’m always peppering Mark with questions about science,” Silbermann said, “and what I thought was so cool is that there’s so much research out there that says the size of your emotional vocabulary, like the number of concepts, is positively correlated all those other results [such as] how good you are at handling emotions.”
Another app winner, Dot’s Home, also explores the idea of decision making – but in a different way than How We Feel. The interactive game stars Dot, a young black woman who discovers a magic key in her grandmother’s house and is able to travel back in time to relive key moments in her family’s history.
According to executive producer Paige Wood and executive producer Luisa Dantas, the purpose of the game is to highlight systemic housing injustice and the impact it has on communities of color.
“Right home stories [the production company behind Dot’s Home] is a groundbreaking collaboration between artists and activists working together on issues of country, homeland and race in the United States,” Dantas told In The Know.
“The player will witness and understand the racist policies and systems that Black and Brown Americans have had to navigate when it came to housing and just trying to find a place to live,” Wood added. “The goal of the game is for players to ask themselves: How did my family end up where they are now?”
The game has resonated with gamers around the world who, as Wood and Dantas explained, felt “the system was rigged against them”.
“We really want to change the narrative about land and home and center it on people instead of profit,” Dantas continued. “We really want to illustrate the beauty, complexity and joy of these communities, rather than just focusing on the drama, and also challenge the notion of equal opportunity for all and a level playing field that all humans assume.”
There is also a deeper emotional impact on users who recognize their own families and experiences in Dot’s story.
“[For users] To reflect their own experiences in the game, it reminds them of their own family stories and stories in their specific neighborhoods and cities,” Wood said. “We’ve heard from people around the world how much it resonates with them.”
The decision to make Dot’s Home an interactive game rather than, say, a children’s book was also intentional.
“Our producer and also Grassroots organizer Christina Rosales was really committed to making it a video game,” Wood said. “We decided to do something interactive so we could place players in an environment where anything is technically possible. But as you understand, when going through the choices offered, there are really only a few options, and there are many implications as to why only those options are available.”
The post Apple Announces Cultural Impact Award Winners for 2022 – 3 Incredible Apps You Should Download appeared first on In The Know.
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