(CNN) — In 2019, Apple's pick for best iPhone app was a camera tool that can be used to take long exposure photos of outdoor adventures. This year? It's Wakeout, an app featuring "active breaks" — think workouts you can do from your couch and routines to wind down after work — perfect for when all you do is walk between your bed and your desk.
Among Google's best apps of 2020 are Disney+ and Loóna, which provides images and sounds designed to help you relax and fall asleep.
It's almost like we've all been sitting at home, stressed out all year. Oh, right. We have.
Apple and Google released their lists of the best apps of 2020 this week, and they are stark reminders of the crucial role tech has played in helping us adapt to living, working, celebrating, exercising and doing pretty much everything else from home this year.
Also on Google's list: Calmaria, which helps you calm down with coordinated breathing techniques, was its top "everyday essential" app. Best "app for fun" was Bazaart, a photo editing app that lets you replace the background of your photos with custom backgrounds and stickers — so you can pretend you're in space or floating in the ocean, not just sitting at home in your pajamas.
A little nostalgia may also have helped some tech users navigate the chaos of the year — "SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-off," a new game featuring a classic character, earned the title of users' choice for the best game of 2020 on the Google Play store.
As for Apple, Zoom was, unsurprisingly, dubbed best iPad app of the year. And Disney+ was named best Apple TV app.
Some of these services didn't just help us weather these last difficult months, they also became massive businesses. Zoom's traffic, well, zoomed 3,000% in May as it went from a niche enterprise video conferencing service to an essential tool now used worldwidefor everything from church services to government cabinet meetings. The company's stock has gained nearly 500% this year.
Apple's "best of" picks are based on "quality, creative design, usability, and innovative technology," as well as "positive cultural impact, helpfulness and importance." Apple's App Store top free chart, which shows the most downloaded apps, includes Zoom (No. 1), TikTok (No. 2), Disney+ (No. 3), Amazon Shopping (No. 11) and DoorDash (No. 14).
Both Apple and Google noted the ways that apps were used for doing good in a year when health concerns, economic strife and racial injustices were all front-and-center. Both cited the United Nations' ShareTheMeal app, which allows users to easily donate money to help feed others, as a popular example.
RELATED: A plethora of pandemic gifts available this holiday season
A plethora of pandemic gifts available this holiday season
MASK & SPEAK
There's at least one mask out there for anybody on your gift list. One company has gone a step further with the MaskFone. It comes with wireless earbuds attached and built-in volume controls. The black, breathable fabric is water-resistant.
Not on a call or listening to music? It doubles as a voice amplifier for mask-on conversation and comes in two sizes, with replaceable filters.
Available at MaskFone.com and Amazon. From $49.99.
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SLEEP & LISTEN
Coronavirus anxiety is no joke. Who hasn't lost more than a little sleep? Enter SleepPhone, a soft headband of fleece or wicking fabric (for exercise) that includes two flat speakers built in. Wireless, corded and wireless rechargeable versions exist.
The SleepPhone comes in two sizes and four colors, including black, blue and lavender.
Yes, we'd all like 2020 to go away. A little something for the Christmas tree may be just the keepsake once it does. Pandemic ornaments are abundant, including a set of three with snowman, reindeer and gingerbread person in masks touting rolls of toilet paper. The set goes for $35.99 on Amazon.
For kids up to 5 and fans of "Goodnight Moon" parodies, there's "Good Morning Zoom," written by a mom isolated with her kids in April, soon after the pandemic took hold. One page reads: "Good morning room. Good morning Zoom. Good morning friends you hope to see soon. Good morning light. And a world not quite right."
By Lindsay Rechler and illustrated by June Park. Widely available. $14.99.
Another possibility: The kid boredom buster "The Highlights Book of Things to Do." Hundreds of activities between covers for $24.99. Widely available.
What better time to ask, "Um... How did I get here?" as 30-year-old entrepreneur Kathi Sharpe-Ross does in her book "Re:Invent Your Life! What Are You Waiting For?" The self-published, self-help guide includes 30 interviews with executives to artists on their a-ha moments.
Quincy Jones writes in a short foreword: "I believe that we are the biggest barriers to our own creativity and growth because of paralysis from analysis."
Available on Amazon and elsewhere. $19.99.
Need to go in another direction? AcroYoga instructors Max and Liz Lowenstein are out with "Yoga for Inflexible People," a beginner's guide to Zen.
Available on Amazon and elsewhere (starting Nov. 11), $19.99.
THE WORK WONNIE
Waist-up dressing remains a thing, but one still has to dress. Enter this work onesie for the Everyman. It's a button-down, suitable-for-meetings, striped work shirt attached to comfortable sweats on the bottom. It's made to look like the shirt is loosely tucked in.
And, wait for it, there's a flap in the back.
$55. Head to Workwonnies.com to pre-order for a Nov. 1 release.
With the world at home in extended, close proximity to kitchens and pantries, snacking is an ever-present pastime. Mix it up for a lucky loved one with a monthly subscription to the Japanese snack box service Bokksu.
Each box is themed and includes tea. Among past themes is the Otsukimi Moon Festival box, with mochi puffs and red bean doughnuts among the offerings. Items sourced from Japan.
As we live our best friluftsliv lives, we'll be pulling double duty with gloves. The rubber ones may ward off germs but not do the trick when the weather goes frigid.
Along the lines of the great outdoors, the folks at Oceas have on offer a fleece-lined waterproof blanket that comes with a carry pouch. In blue, gray and red. $33.99 at OceasOutdoors.com, Amazon and Walmart.com.
At UncommonGoods.com, there's an eco-friendly instant grill made for a single use out of cardboard, bamboo and lava stones. $15.
Have you got a luxury-level gift budget? Do you know a homebound exerciser with a design bent?
Technogym notes its sleek Cross Personal elliptical trainer was designed by Italian architect and designer Antonio Citterio. The thing sure is pretty with its mirror-like steel finish. It has a live console with on-demand content and surround sound built into its handles.
And it costs $14,815 at Technogym.com.
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