Google Play’s Best of 2020 list is a tour of a stressful year

We’re all just trying to relax.


Google Play’s Best of 2020 Awards are here, and the results are telling. The lists cover the best apps, games, movies, and books of the year in categories determined by users and editors. Whether you just use Google Play or you know how the sausage is made, everyone could agree that this year was all about trying to unwind from the mess outside of our homes.

A stressful time — Google’s Best App of the Year was the popular sleep app Loóna while users chose Disney+ as their top pick. Though on first glance, the two apps couldn’t seem further apart, their popularity has a common root. Loóna offers immersive dreamscapes in a year where so many of us weren’t sleeping, a reporter and actual good Karen became the “doomscrolling reminder lady.”

Disney+, generally devoid of new content, is full of classic favorites with predictable, safe outcomes to escape into. Not to discount the many parents and caretakers throwing Frozen on a phone to pacify a child, but the true staying power of this app is the fuzzy feeling of nostalgia.

Across Google Play’s Best Apps subcategories, apps that helped us calm down, organize our lives, and connect with our loved ones kept coming out on top — a perfect reflection of a very imperfect year.

When it came to movies and books, a mix of social justice narratives and diverse escapism is stirred into what can often be a homogenous cultural pot. The top books and audiobooks boast a significant showing from non-white authors with strong Black representation, likely spurred by protest-spawned reading lists.

Here are the results for the U.S.:

User’s Choice

Google’s Winners

Top Five Movies:

  • Bill & Ted Face the Music
  • Just Mercy
  • Miss Juneteenth
  • Onward
  • Parasite

Top Five Books:

  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
  • Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi
  • Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh
  • You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria