Apps World 2013 preview: A closer look at the Appster Awards

Now heading into its fourth year, Apps World is one of the leading global events in the app industry. Set to take place 22-23 October at London's Earls Court 2, the 2013 European iteration promises to be the biggest to date, boasting more than 250 exhibitors and 8,000-plus attendees made up of developers, mobile marketers, mobile operators, device manufacturers, platform owners and other industry professionals.

As well as high-profile keynotes from the likes of Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins and legendary Apple co-founder Steve 'The Woz' Wozniak, Apps World also features the annual Appster Awards, held just down the road at the swanky Kensington Roof Gardens. Ahead of the glitzy ceremony, which will take place 22 October from 19:30, we've taken a closer look at some of the main categories and contenders.

Best entertainment app

This category has it all, from a personal photo printing and delivery service, Printic, to the festive Crackalaka Boom Christmas cracker app from spicy chicken magnate Nando's. But the standout is probably Tech City darling YPlan, an elegant solution to the age-old question of: "What are we doing tonight?" With impressive simplicity, it allows users to browse through a curated shortlist of local events before booking their chosen night out in just two taps.

Ringtonium and Universal Music's nimbletankare are also useful, and include a splash of fun. Ringtonium allows you to easily create custom ringtones on your iPhone with a fine tuned user interface and video tutorials included. For its part, nimbletank is a sophisticated marketing tool that promises to revolutionise the way record labels launch albums, creating an integrated app-based campaign that uses social sharing and 3D artwork. Needless to say, music lovers everywhere stand to benefit from improved discovery on their mobile devices.

On a less practical note, Haunting Melissa is a Dynamic Story Elements app that immerses iOS users in a new kind of ghost story. For innovation alone, the concept stands out as a boundary pusher, with viewers following the tale of a young woman plagued by ghosts. Downloaded instalments appear in the user's phone at sporadic, random intervals, and this creepy and unique app has already been heralded as a modern, mobile Blair Witch Project.

Best enterprise app

Catching the eye in the enterprise category is Double Dutch, whose applications are providing conference attendees with a full interactive companion for a whole host of events. For those familiar with the hectic format of business exhibitions, having keynote locations, seminar schedules and breaking news all packed into one app is an invaluable resource during a busy event. Oakley Mobile's I Get You Pro may also score well, with its psychometric profiling and humorous character animations helping to "improve your business interactions" in a genuinely fun and accessible way. However, Mubaloo's strong work with its Aviva apps may provide the judges with a headache, as could compelling entries from Emergent Health, iPresent, Airwatch, and Cloudapps.

Best use of API

In the API section, T + Biscuits' ReferenceME app will have students bubbling with excitement. The app scans the ISBN or ISSN code from books to produce a ready-made reference fit to land straight on the end of an essay, shaving hours off the arduous process of source citation in academic work. Those who empathise less with student woes can choose between SOA Software - with its API management and API Gateway offerings - as well as the intriguing propositions of Judo Payments, Ondigi CRM, and Appnostica.

Most innovative app

The gong for the most innovative app is sure to be one of the most fiercely contested at the Appsters and features a number of standout entries. For sheer life-saving capability alone, Zapps' Distress Signal is likely to be a high-scorer, while Dollarbird from Halycon Mobile is a calendar-cum-expenses app that smartly integrates money management, budgeting and forecasting into your daily life. But the frontrunner must surely be game-changing taxi nabber Hailo - easily one of the most used apps in the ITProPortal office - while spare tickets marketplace Twickets is another strong idea and potential dark horse in this category.

Best TV app

Best TV app looks like a fairly straightforward showdown, with immensely strong entries from both the BBC iPlayer app and all-around entertainment discovery beast Shazam. While iPlayer is a sleek, beautifully designed and well-executed app, Shazam is arguably the more compelling as it can recognise what you're watching or listening to in seconds, thereafter providing you with a range of options to enhance your experience, from prospective purchases to trivia and social buzz. ESPN's sporty offering and SPB TV will no doubt have their supporters, but we feel they're slightly outclassed in this particular instance.

Best consumer app

Making up the consumer category are a wide range of apps, all designed to provide useful functionality to the 21st century smartphone user. The undisputed big names of the group are taxi app Hailo and keyboard outfit Swiftkey. These two players have become tremendously successful recently, boasting impressive deployment amongst on-the-go types. However, there are also a couple of lesser-known names with seriously compelling propositions in tow. The British Gas app, for example, is a dream for energy and cash conscious consumers, while Skyscanner addresses pretty much all of the major issues for roving travellers, allowing them to compare flights, hotels and car hire schemes quickly and easily. This one is a particularly tough call for the judges.

Best payment solution

The best payment solution category is another hugely competitive field, and not just because money is at stake. Once again, Hailo immediately caught our attention, since it has rapidly grown into a must-have product for busy professionals and partygoers in cities all over the world. As well as actually getting you in a cab, the taxi app addresses the all-too-common problem of not having enough physical money to pay for a journey (and the irritating detour to a nearby ATM), allowing for hassle-free travel. Another tasty piece of payment solution software that caught our eye was Monitise's Royal Bank of Scotland mobile banking app. Banking apps needs to be slick, but most of all secure, and that's exactly what this is, making it a really handy bit of kit - and a serious contender.

Best startup

One of the most interesting categories at the Appsters, the award for best startup looks like a tight race, but the standout for us is California-based Tile. Responsible for an eponymous, matchbook-sized Bluetooth Low Energy device that can attach, stick on to, or sit in your property - be it a rucksack, handbag, laptop or even a bike - Tile's raison d'être is reuniting people with lost possessions. This potentially represents a huge insurance boon for corporate-provisioned devices, but what makes Tiles really special is the community element of the project. If the Tiled object is outside of your device's Bluetooth range, it can still be tracked by other people's Tile app, with the relevant information only relayed back to you, of course. The other serious runner is myHealthPal, an early-stage company that aims to provide a unique platform for long-term and chronic illness management. Designed for patients and carers by patients and carers, the app is the heart of the myHealthPal proposition, which also includes a nascent range of wearable devices.

Best app technology

Again, this is a wildly competitive field, with particularly strong showings from "instant Photoshop app" Perfect Clear, and image-scanning advertising app Blippar. Both use an advanced algorithm to alter images, and scan them, respectively. Elsewhere, the QR-code and barcode reader from telecoms giant AT&T performed its job seamlessly, enjoying 100 per cent accuracy in our tests, while ooVoo is a remarkable (and well-known) video app that allows you to hold multiple-person, Google Hangouts-style chats on your smartphone.

Rounding things out, awards will also be handed out for the best mobile marketing agency, best indie developer, and best app developer.

ITProPortal is pleased to be attending Apps World 2013 and will be keeping a close eye on the Appsters, so stay tuned for more coverage of Europe's leading app industry shindig.