This year, Apple paid more attention than ever to its end-of-year commendations. They invited press to an intimate media briefing in New York to announce their App Store Best Of 2019 picks, beyond the normal press release. Apple also made a big song and dance about 2019 music. iTunes has released top song lists and ‘artist of the year’ editorials for as long as I can remember, but this year they formalised proceedings into official Apple Music Awards. The winners receive an awesome custom physical trophy, featuring a 12-inch disc of silicon as a perfect fusion of modern technology and vinyl throwback. They even held a celebratory concert at the Steve Jobs Theater.
However, in an awkward state of affairs, I feel like they invested far more effort into the ceremony of the thing than the actual process of award-giving. The chosen picks are predictable and uninspired. It doesn’t seem like they took any risks and mostly stuck to name brands and big companies. It makes for a very dry list of featured apps. I also think it is hilarious that in the same year Apple launched a dedicated App Store for Apple Watch, they did not have a Watch category at all. It just seems like such a waste to host this non-event event with such bland recommendations underlying it all; contrast the Best Of list to this year’s Apple Design Awards this year, which was a much more diverse and interesting set of apps but was honoured with far less fanfare.
On the music side, Apple Music’s inaugural awards had meagre ambitions. Apple Music normally makes a huge deal about the breadth and depth of their huge catalogue with playlists for all genres and moods. Yet Apple gave out just five awards for 2019, three chosen by editorial teams and two based on global play counts. With three out of five of this year’s awards being given to the same artist, the need for more diversity is even more highlighted. At the very least, there should be awards for every genre of music. They could do a lot more that emphasises unique elements of Apple Music; awards picked by Beats 1 hosts, some kind of sing-along lyrics tie in, most streamed music video, the works. I hope they have a better all-round showing for 2020.