You asked for my top 10 apps of 2015…or were about to…or were wishing you had. Well, here they are.

  1. Google Cardboard – VR has huge potential in the educational market. Training, cultural exchange, exploration: VR will impact all of these very soon. Oculus Rift and Microsoft HoloLens may be to VR what IMAX is to film, but Google Cardboard will get us into the seats of the cinema, so to speak. Organizations ranging from The New York Times to the New England Patriots have given away Cardboard viewers, demonstrating an endorsement across different demographics. I tested at home and in class this year, and I hope to introduce it in a more integrated way in 2016.

  2. Periscope – Twitter had a rocky year. Executive shakeups, market ups and downs, layoffs. Nevertheless, Twitter is still relevant. The peak point was Periscope. Redefining what it means to live stream, Periscope is an elegant idea that works across many content areas. I haven’t broadcast yet, but I have been along for walk-throughout of maker spaces, conferences, interviews and impromptu sessions. Some industry types say that Periscope is not ready and that it’s not profitable. We’ll see where it takes us in 2016.

  3. Paper by 53 – The top platform for sketching and note taking got an upgrade this year and it stand out. The move from iPad only to iPhone clinched the bronze medal. The tool bar is expanded and easier to navigate, and the notebooks are easier to find and organize. Paper works for sketchnoting, visualizations, presentations, charts and graphs. The eyeball test is huge here–of all the apps I’ve used recently this is the one that people ask about: “Wow! What app did you use to…?” I think we’ll hear more of this in 2016.


  4. Adobe Post – Adobe Post is currently my #1 app. Over the last few weeks it has me hooked. Easy and borderline addictive to use, robust & lots of potential for education: badges, posters, avatars, inspirational quotes, design practice. I’ll spend 2016 exploring templates and potential uses of social graphics.


  5. Green Screen by do ink – I had more fun with Green Screen by do ink than I did with any other app in 2015. Fun and functional both at home and at school, Green Screen by opens up possibilities that were not there before and has really opened up a whole new way of seeing for me. The app is easy to use, it is powerful, and it integrates well with iMovie. The developers have a great story and provide great customer service. I met the husband and wife team behind the app at iPad Summit Boston.) Overall, this is a powerful tool for anyone looking to get into green screen movie making.


  6. Flipboard – The UI is unique but not gimmicky. The content is curated amazingly well. The app integration–pulling in and sharing out to Facebook and Twitter–is simple. In sum, this is a fantastic one-stop-shopping outlet news, social, entertainment, sports, lifestyle and whatever else flips your boat.


  7. Monument Valley – I’m a year late on this one–Apple Game of the Year, 2014–but I’ll include it because I got it for free and my kids got into it big time this year. This is the first game to come along in a long time that we can all sit down and play and feel like we are equally challenged. In a sea of violent and viral images, Monument Valley stands out for the dad, the techie and the teacher in me.


  8. Explain Everything – I’ve used Explain Everything for tutorials for a few years. I still do and it works well. This year I used Explain Everything as a sort of virtual green room for other apps, pulling in or prepping images and/or video for use in Green Screen by do ink of iMovie. The app never fails and the updates in 2015 improved the platform a ton.


  9. Fitbit– In our wearable, wearable, wearable, wearable world, Fitbit stands out. I’m impressed by the way the app works for mall walkers and weekend warriors equally, without being too senior-citizen or too Spartan. The app really speaks to the cyclist in me. Fitbit has a great app, long battery life, social and achievable challenges, while providing helpful and motivational feedback. The Apple Watch may be the biggest name in wearables, but for now, Fitbit is ahead in the race.


  10. Uber & AirbnbDisclaimer, unlike any of the other apps here, I have no first-hand experience with either of these apps. Now, no, I haven’t been in a cave and I understand what these apps are doing to industries, unions, and cities. Do they flatten the world while leading us to more mobility? Do they connect communities and cultures? Do they threaten hierarchies and hegemonies? Strengthen them? I don’t know the answers, but the questions I pose here and many more that stem from the sharing economy in 2016 need a closer look. That is why I list them here.


  11. 1010!– At #11 we have 1010! Why? Because you need a game like this every year. Unblock Me, 2048, Two Dots, now 1010! Shameless fun and super-easy gameplay.


  12. Google Keep – Google Keep has leapfrogged Evernote as my go-to to-do app. I like the card style interface on desktop and mobile platforms and I really appreciate the ability to share and collaborate on notes.


  13. Layout by Instagram – Layout would have come in higher as the head-of-the-class photo app for me were it not for the meteoric rise of Adobe Post. Nevertheless this is a quality app for photo collages that packs tons of functionality and works across platforms.


  14. Cameo – Cameo is a great app for creating video clips and splicing them together. The six-second scenes make me think more creatively about narrative structure than any competing app. The audio options and the filters are both excellent too.


  15. Post-it Plus – Digitize, archive and move around Post-it notes. This app combines in real and the virtual in meaningful ways. I still have not mastered workflows with this app but I’ll keep coming back.

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