Apps that made me say wow in 2017



From an online game show to a cool kids video game, USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham dishes on the mobile apps that wow’d him in 2017.

LOS ANGELES —It’s a daily game show on your phone, and if you know the answers to 12 questions, you could win $1,000 or more. 


HQ Trivia (iOS only, Android version coming later this year) was one of seven new apps in 2017 that made me say wow, as it did for hundreds of thousands of other people as well. Each day at 9 PM ET and weekdays also at 3 PM ET, anywhere from 300,000 to 600,000 people stopped what they were doing in 2017 to play along and win. 

We also loved many of the new augmented reality apps for the iPhone, which blend animated objects into your real life photos. Our favorite was the IKEA Place app. On recent iPhones, you could point the camera at a spot in the room and visualize how new IKEA furniture would look there. 


With a new app from Ikea, you can use augmented reality to “see” potential pieces of furniture in your home before pulling out your credit card.

The Yarn app (IOS and Android) takes a new approach to reading fiction on your phone. It offers scary stories, but they’re told in text message format. So it feels as if you’re reading over someone’s shoulder, which is a fun way to do it. 

We have two new photo apps that make us say wow.

Plotagraph is a cool way to add motion to your still photos. You can basically turn any still into a GIF, but with the addition of doing it just on selections of the image. The app sells for $4.99, but Apple is offering it for free, if in a convoluted way. You need to download the Apple Store app, where if you scroll to the bottom, you’ll see the offer.

Meanwhile, Adobe’s free Lightroom Mobile became my favorite go-to photo editor in 2017, with simple tools for enhanced lighting and color, without much of the clutter of other apps. 

As parents, don’t you wish we could keep all of our kids art, forever? Artkive (iOS only) to the rescue. Use the smartphone mobile camera and capture all of it. The app is free, but subscriptions start at $3 monthly. You can take pictures of the kids’ artwork for free, and spend money to categorize and archive the artwork.  

Finally, the Spiltter Critters $2.99 game (iOS and Android) gets a wow from us, for its super simple and fun play. Just split the screen in half to advance your hero. The game was a winner earlier in the year of an Apple Design Award. 

And those are seven apps that made us say wow in 2017. Which apps made you say it? Tell me about it on Twitter, where I’m @jeffersongraham.


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