2022 Apple Design Award Winners

Originally published at: 2022 Apple Design Award Winners - TidBITS

Apple has announced yet another slate of Apple Design Award winners, but once again the Mac has been largely overlooked.

I can’t make sense out of the categories. The app descriptions in the original article are flowerish and purple-y.

Well, for one thing, if it’s not innovative, it’s not worthy of an award. So I guess that’s a “non of the above” category.

I’d look for things that solve problems in various spaces. Accessibility is good. Environment (species recording, or environmental monitoring), Poverty (access to finance, resource sharing, financial management, perhaps), Health.

Maybe tidbits should do annual awards.

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We’ve thought about it, but while we probably use more software than most people, we don’t have anywhere near the exposure necessary to provide useful evaluations.

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We’ve done member/user votes before… they were interesting but I suspect a fair amount of work by you guys.

Part of the problem is there just aren’t many new apps that wow us. Even in Apple’s list, there are just a couple that I think we might find useful. And I’m not anti-game, but readers generally don’t care about them, and most games in the Apple space are loaded with IAP junk.

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New? Agreed.

Old… now there’s a different matter. Agenda has matured into a really terrific app for example. DevonTHINK well… I live there. But that’s not newsworthy perhaps.

Cornell’s ornithology lab developed a bird identification app called Merlin which my wife has on her iPhone and is great for bird identification. If we’re outside and we can hear a bird, we turn on Merlin and it usually can identify the bird as long as it keeps on singing for maybe 30 seconds. More details are at Merlin Bird ID app identifies more than 450 bird species by sound | Cornell Chronicle
She found another app for identifying plants yesterday and has used it to identify all sorts of plants in the garden and yard, a disturbing number of which are invasive weeds. I don’t know the name, but we’re impressed by its usefulness.
I don’t use a smartphone because I find keyboards and large screens work much better for my large fingers and less than perfect vision, and these are the first two apps I’ve seen that are fun, useful and make the most of the smartphone platform.


Will have to download the Merlin app.

I did find out the other day that Apple has built in plant identification in the photo app (along with animal identification and who knows what else). You take a photo of the object, pull up the photo in Photos, look at the Information Icon (circle with an “i” in it) and if it has a star on it, there is extrapolated information, such as breed of dog, name of plant, etc).

I impressed my wife showing her that.

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My husband and I have been using Cornell’s Merlin for many, many years, and we are big fans. We’re also big fans of Cornell’s bird cams, and it’s bittersweet seeing this year’s crop of babies getting ready to fledge.


Just to clarify, the Merlin app listing birds and providing a search capability based on visual cues, has been around for a while. About a year ago Cornell Ornithology added a Sound ID feature which really is Arthur C. Clark’s ‘indistinguishable from magic’. As Margaret Renkl wrote in the NYT, turn it on, lay your phone on your outdoor patio table and watch it identify all the birds singing in your neighborhood. You’ll discover many birds you may never have seen!

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That smooth and easy sound ID is what impressed me. It’s not infallible, but it’s good enough for most purposes, and particularly impressive when it spots birds up in the trees who never come into sight. Serious bird watchers can recognize birds by their songs and know those birds are nearby, but most of us aren’t that good with bird song.

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I would add the category ‘Bait’…as in “apps so good that we’ll probably swipe the idea for a future system feature,” like Reincubate’s “Camo Studio” or, y’know, just call the category ‘Sherlockable’ or something.


Can you please us know the plant ID app your wife is using?

I see that Tina has noted an option, but I was wondering which one you’ve found useful.



The Plant ID app is called “Picture This”. You get a free week or two when you sign, but to keep on using it you need to subscribe for $30/year. It might be worth it if you’re interested in plants or trying to spot invasive species, as my wife is.

Actually you can keep on using Picture This for free forever, but you are constantly nagged about signing up and they make it deliberately hard to find the ignore button (check top right, in purple). They’re super annoying about that, but the app itself is awesome in how it finds plants with even pretty crappy snapshots. :+1:

Picture This: Don’t think you actually have to pay. On the subscription page, there’s a faint cancel button at the top right of the screen.

For plants and other recognizable objects (e.g., art), use Look Up on the iPhone. Open an image in Photos, then swipe up. A tiny leaf icon appears in the center of the image an Look Up - Plant below it. Tapping on Look Up opens Siri Knowledge showing a corresponding image and identification.
Don O’Shea

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