Google’s best app of 2022 is an AI art generator, which sounds about right

'Apex Legends Mobile' and BeReal also won recognition.

Jon Fingas/Dream by Wombo

Google is quickly joining Apple in recognizing the top apps of the year. The company has announced the Google Play Best of 2022 awards, and this year's biggest winners clearly reflect the cultural zeitgeist. The best Android app of the year is Wombo's Dream, an AI art generator — yes, one of the trendiest technologies of the year took top honors. The user's choice winner, meanwhile, is the social media phenomenon BeReal.

Respawn swept the top game awards. Apex Legends Mobile won both Google's nod as well as the user's choice pick. Todoist is Google's favorite app for Wear OS smartwatches, while Pocket's reading tool is the top tablet-friendly app. The best software for good was The Stigma App, a community platform dor discussing mental health.

Notably, Google significantly expanded the categories this year — if partly to promote its own platforms. There's now awards for Chromebook-friendly apps, including best app (the music maker BandLab) and best game (the metaverse-like Roblox). Very Little Nightmares is Google's favorite Play Pass game. The game list has expanded, too. The Android port of Papers, Please won the best story award, while the gacha game Genshin Impact took the distinction of the best ongoing game.

As with Apple, Google's year-end list is as much about driving downloads as anything else. The internet giant's Best of 2022 section on the Play Store is effectively a one-stop shop for Android and Chromebook newcomers looking to expand their app libraries. However, it does give a feel for the cultural pulse of a mobile world where AI, the metaverse and online gaming dominate.