Best App 2011: 8th Pocket-lint Awards contenders

Apps, apps, apps. Like Pokemon for a smartphone fan, we just gotta catch em all. 2011 saw our handsets filled with apps of all shapes and sizes, from time savers and games, to the final arrival of Facebook in app form on the iPad. 

The time is upon now to begin rounding up all those Apps of the Day and decide which granted us the most application based excitement. Why you say? Because it is time for the 8th Pocket-lint Awards and apps are a category, and time for you to get your nominations in.

Social

Social media has become a buzzword for aspiring trend setters the world over. It roughly translates as "wasting time on Twitter and Facebook". So much time, in fact, that social apps have saturated app stores in 2011.

Among the best was Facebook for the iPad, which was initially accidentally leaked via the social network's iPhone app.  It incorporated all the design logic of a German-built calculator with the excitement and speed Facebook needs to function.

Next up came Google+, the big G's attempt at drawing crowds from Facebook. So far it doesn't appear to be working. Shame really as its app is brilliant. 

Touchnote was another nice app based surprise that had the Pocket-lint gang excited. Essentially it is a app based way of sending photo postcards straight from your phone. Innovative and fresh, Pocket-lint definitely liked it. 

With iOS 5's iMessage came Apple's answer to BBM. Android fans for a brief moment appeared to be left out, that was until at least Samsung announced ChatOn, a multi platform instant messaging client. Everything from pictures to audio samples can be sent instantaneously between devices. 

Games

Apps are the time wasters best friend, none more so than games which, since the launch of the App Store, have consistently led the way in the money making stakes. 

2011 was the year that the big game producers took on the likes of Zynga and Rovio. This meant we saw titles like Crimson Steam Pirates, from Halo producers Bungie, landing on iPad. 

The added grunt that the dual-core processor in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S brought with it also meant app gaming could be pushed in terms of graphics. Fifa 12 is a prime example of what portable devices are now capable of and looks mighty impressive on the iPad. 

The launch of the Xperia Play created PlayStation gaming on smartphones. Whilst the handset was initially marred by a weak release lineup, it eventually came good with an Xperia Play unique version of Minecraft

Special mention has to go to Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP which combined unique design, audio and graphics to create an app gaming experience unlike any other. Short, sweet and super cool, Superbrothers rapidly became the app Pocket-lint used to show off its smartphones. 

Football fans got to enjoy the delights of Championship Manager 1980s Legends. Incorporating all the usual management and player training of the modern day versions of the game, it was as addictive as it was retro. 

Productivity

Most smartphone owners will already be familiar with Evernote and what it can do for organization. Designed as a means to store memos and notes in both audio and visual form, it is a quick and easy way to sync things you need to remember between device and computer. Problem is that until 2011 it hadn't made an appearance on Windows Phone 7.

Log Me In also turned up on our portables, in particular the iPad in iOS form. Whilst not exactly cheap by app standards, Log Me In is the best remote desktop software available and running on iPad makes it just that little bit better. It means being able to remotely control OS X and Windows and sync and send documents from your tablet, without having to go anywhere near your PC. 

Sending an SMS is about the lowest tech thing possible with a smartphone. The conventional touch screen keyboard has now become a given with every handset and hasn't been interfered with since the first generation iPhone. Swiftkey aims to change normal text input, at least for Android users by using single finger dragging motions and predictive texting. Once you get a bit of practice it can be mighty speedy, so we were rather pleased to the see the revamped, restructured and re-backended version arrive on both tablet and smartphone in 2011 known as Swiftkey X.

Music

Android has never been blessed with quite the same out of the box music link up that iOS benefits from with iTunes. The native software is always fine but the lack of a decent desktop partner is been a bind and using the USB mode of the OS is not particularly sleek. Enter Double Twist Air Sync, the Android fans answer, complete with wireless syncing, album art and easy music transfers. 

Sonos has been keeping audio awesome for a good while now. It has, however, remained largely an Apple only affair thanks to the product's compatibility with iOS. This changed in 2011 with the launch of Sonos Controller for Android, opening up the multi room music playback and track changing system to Android users.

The iPad 2's dual-core processor meant bigger grunt behind the tablet's processor. The result was more potential for gaming and in the case of Garageband, irritating others around you. Garageband was a classic Mac desktop piece of software, proving particularly useful for podcast production and bedroom producers. Hitting the iPad meant it became an instantly portable way to create music. Producers could put beats together on the bus and then finish editing them on the computer when they got home. As seriously involving piece of software.

And the rest

So many apps, so little time. There was plenty else released in 2011 that just didn't quite fall into the above categories but deserved mention, the first of which is the Sky Go app which brought telly watching to iOS. It granted Sky+ levels of control to live feeds of channels on your iPad. The inclusion of AirPlay support also meant you could send video to your Apple TV, allowing for a multi-room setup straight from your iPad.

The British Airways app went down well across the Pocket-lint gang. We liked being able to avoid all the nastiness of check-in via our smartphone. The app was also particularly satisfying as a means to show off our shiny phones to airport security, via the ticket barcode that staff would scan. 

Ubuntu One for Android was another app which tickled Pocket-lint's fancy. Behaving like an Android based prelude to iCloud, it was a cloud based file and music management app for smartphones. Best part? You didn't need to be running Linux to take advantage of it.

Special mention needs to be given to Slangatang and our appearance on this year's Apprentice. The soundboard style app whilst no longer available went viral almost the second it made its appearance on the BBC.

Last but not least was the Great British Chefs app for iPad and iPhone. A decent layout and collection of no less than 180 absolutely top class recipes made it a cooking fiends favourite. Personally we just enjoyed the pictures, our culinary talents being way behind what the app required. 

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below ...