What makes apps desirable?

What makes a user stop at their tracks and be amazed by your app?

Apple looks for certain traits when awarding the WWDC design awards.  Beyond, the app’s purpose, quality and usefulness, your users look for essentially the same things.

Traits Apple looks for, when awarding WWDC Apple Design Awards

  • Apps that set a benchmark for
    • excellence in usability,
    • excellence in design and
    • excellence in innovation.
  • Apps that set a benchmark for excellence in technology adoption.
    Examples include:

    • Elegant use of notifications to reach out to users,
    • custom complications and use of haptic in Apple Watch,
    • Animations and motion effects,
    • Use of Auto Layout in Xcode,
    • Dynamic Type fonts that scale across devices,
    • 3D Touch Quick Actions, and Peek and Pop,
    • iPad Pro and pencil.
    • Support for multitasking for Split View and Slide Over,
    • Use of Sharing Extensions, Spotlight search, Handoff between devices
    • Use of iCloud syncing
  • Apps that are compelling and leave a great first impression.
    • For example apps that have a simple on-boarding process
    • Apps that do not force an on-boarding process but the on-boarding process is available to new users on-demand
  • Apps that have “incredible” performance
    • Games that use Metal
    • Games that use UserKit which is based on Metal
  • Apps that exhibit attention to detail and have uncluttered user interface
    • Simpler user interfaces
    • Show relevant features at relevant places in the app
    • Great visual design
  • Apps that are enabling in a way that allow you to do things you could never do before and are state-of-the-art
    • Examples outlined were music and content creation on the iPad
  • Apps that are localized and accessible
    • Localized and accessible apps are available to much more people than apps that are not localized or built with accessibility in mind
  • Above all, Apps that are engaging
    • those that draw you in
    • keep you there, and
    • then gets you coming to the app again and again

The main challenge for an app is building an engaging app, meaning it draws you in and keeps you there, and then gets you coming back again and again.


  • Watch the WWDC video here
  • Read about the apps that won the award Design awards here.