Busy digesting and dissecting Google’s most attention-grabbing I/O 2018 announcements, many of you may have forgot all about the third annual Play Award ceremony. This took place on the opening day of the search giant’s latest big developer conference, recognizing the achievements, impact and unique experiences provided by nine standout Android apps.

Far from a popularity contest, the 2018 Google Play Awards went to the usual eclectic mix of mainstream hits, obscure critical darlings, socially aware underdogs and independent scene-stealers.

Flipkart is easily the biggest name commended this year, taking home the “Standout Build for Billions Experience” trophy thanks to its “optimized performance, localization and culturalization for emerging markets.”

As the “best community building game”, Episode by Pocket Gems obviously comes with its own huge fanbase and over 50 million downloads to date, while Small Giant’s Empires & Puzzles, named the Play Store’s best breakthrough hit, managed the impressive feat of “organically” growing its install count to over 10 million.

On the other end of the spectrum, you’re unlikely to have heard about BBC Earth: Life in VR or Old Man’s Journey until today. The former is a Daydream-exclusive nature discovering experience singled out for its “highly engaging and immersive” content, while the latter is 2018’s standout indie title, with a focus on “artistic design, gameplay mechanics and overall polish.”

But if there’s one Google Play Award winner you should definitely check out and help break into the mainstream, that’s Be My Eyes, the accessibility gold medalist, aiming to help the blind in a very ingenious and simple way. Kudos to Google for bringing this one on our radar!

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