The Best Cultural Impact Apps: Our Review of the 2022

At this year’s App Store Awards, there was a special selection of apps that left the best cultural impact on users in 2022. We’ve tested all five awarded apps so that you don’t have to. Find out which ones we recommend and which are not worth your time at all.

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cultural impact apps

Illustration: Milica Mijajlovic

Best Cultural Impact Apps in 2022   

You probably heard BeReal was officially awarded the App of the Year on the App Store. However, what drove our attention more was a so-called Cultural Impact section, newly introduced for this year only. 

Namely, these apps have left a huge impact not only on users worldwide but on game developers and publishers as well. This is the complete list of awarded apps in this category: 

Name Description 
Dot’s Home Shining a spotlight on historical injustices through a compelling time-travel tale. 
How We Feel Helping users engage more deeply with their emotions — and providing strategies for addressing them at the moment. 
Inua Honoring the heritage of the Inuit, whose folklore gives this breathtaking tale its beating heart. 
Locket Widget Bringing friends and family closer by helping users see the small moments they otherwise might miss. 
Waterllama Encouraging everyone to stay hydrated through a winning combination of gentle guidance and adorable characters. 

Now, let’s review each of them and see what’s so unique about them. 

Moreover, we’ll give you our honest opinion and let you know if we think these apps are worth your time and storage. 

Dot’s Home 

An original story based on the Rise Home Story project, starts with the main character’s grandma telling you: “I need to remind you where you come from.”  

It’s a single-player game with the intent to teach you more about the Black community’s struggles through the decades. In all dialogues, you’ll notice more or less subtle types of discrimination and there’s a huge emphasis on the community that affects your decisions and leads you to one of three possible endings. 

The game takes around two hours to finish. The drawing is amazing, but the movement could’ve been better. The dialogues seem unnecessarily long, but you can speed them up by double-clicking. 

You navigate the environment by interacting with the objects. Some of them are important to the story, and you can even save them in your ‘backpack’ but most of them you can just observe. 

A very interesting detail is that you have a chance to look into the newspapers from different decades, such as the 50s and find out the narrative of the era. But, the weird this is, when you do read the newspaper, your character Dot doesn’t have any reaction to it. The information presented in the headlines is strong, but the script doesn’t show that Dot has adopted any of the information she read in the newspaper. That’s the only inconvenience I’ve noticed during gameplay. 

Moreover, you can’t really make your own decisions because the script is already telling you what you need to do. However, it keeps you engaged. It’s like watching an animated movie but you need to participate for the story to evolve. 

dots home

Screenshot: Dot’s Home

In the game, you’re switching between parallel universes each time you exit the door of Dot’s bedroom. However, she doesn’t seem confused about the whole time travel thing; she just says she saw it happen in movies and plays along. 

As I’ve mentioned already, there are three possible endings to the game; mine turned out to be neutral. There’s also a good one and a bad one. But I’ll let you discover that on your own. 

Rating: 3/5 

How we feel 

We previously wrote about the benefits of AI solutions for mental health, if they’re created with the help of professionals. This app falls into that category as well, being conceived in conjunction with Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence. 

The idea was to help people find the right word to articulate their feelings and identify patterns. It’s free, thanks to being funded by donations from those who wanted an app like this to exist, which is already a solid ground for its growth. Moreover, it offers exercises for emotional regulation in the form of step-by-step video lessons on various topics that you can explore whenever you feel like it. 

In addition, you’ll find exercises for physical movement, as well as for communicating with others. Another advantage is that it’s a small app, requiring around 60MB of storage. 

You can choose at which time you want to receive daily reminders for check-ins, that is, if you wish to receive them at all. Finally, if you want, you can add your friends, but they’ll only see your emotion of the day, not the other details you provided. 

From our experience, it’s a really useful, non-demanding app to have on your device. Twice a day, you choose how you’re feeling from a vast number of emotions available, it gives a short definition of it, and then you can fill it in with more details if you have time. For example, you can add a photo, voice recording or a note. Moreover, you can mark what you were doing at the moment, who were you with, etc. 

What we love about this app is that it doesn’t require a lot of clicks to finish your check-ins, while still providing enough details about that day. This data will later on help you understand patterns in your behavior and moods, based on your inputs. 

What’s more, you can use it even if you’re offline, the only difference is you won’t have access to video exercises but you can still read the instructions, designed in a minimalistic yet effective way. 

Videos are recorded in high quality, with a trainer who’s an expert in a certain field, speaking to you directly. They’re short, around a few minutes,  so they won’t take too much of your time.

Apart from documenting your feelings, the added value of this app is the cognitive behavioral methods that actually improve your moods and relationships one day at a time. 

All in all, we don’t have any complaints about the ‘How we feel’ app, it’s a small change in your routine that you’ll end up really enjoying. In fact, it’s the only one I’m keeping on my phone even after reviewing it. However, if you’re looking for an app that will offer you more support, maybe opt for another one. 

Rating: 5/5 

Inua 

When I first learned about the “Cultural Impact” selection, this is what I imagined. As the name suggests, Inua – A story in ice and time is shedding light on historical events of Inuit traditions and folklore elements. 

You’ll get to meet three generations or three different characters from whose point of view you’ll get to unravel the story. You can interact with objects, talk to other characters and even witness some inner monologues. Most users finish the whole game within three hours. 

The story is linear and it’s in fact telling you about the real-life event of Franklin’s expedition, which has been subject to many books and movies. What definitely helped in enhancing the quality of this game is bringing Inuit writer, actors, singers and advisors, so the team guarantees it’s in line with the original culture. 

Similar to Dot’s Home, this mystical adventure game uses travel time elements to bring the story to life. You’ll often switch between the two timelines, the present-day and the original 19thcentury event. 

https://twitter.com/AppStore/status/1603473840272773123

However, the illustration style is different, and anyone who enjoyed playing Monument Alley will appreciate the visual appeal of this game as well. It certainly gets compliments from my side. 

In addition, a lot of thought has been put into the soundtrack, giving yet another quality to the game and enhancing its ethereal atmosphere. Given the Inuit’s rich music heritage and unique throat singing, it would really be a complete failure if they hadn’t given such importance to the soundtrack. 

You’ll learn not only about this historical event but also about the subtle clashes between the communities and the nature of these relationships. The story does come in different layers and it certainly won’t leave you feeling like you’ve spent your time in vain. 

It’s important to point out that this is the only paid app on the list, with the current price of $4.99. However, every now and then the publisher offers a 40% off deal. 

Rating: 4.5/5 

Locket Widget 

Having in mind that BeReal was awarded as the App of the Year, it’s no wonder that the locket widget, which offers a similar insight into users’ daily lives, was highly positioned as well. 

Basically, you get a photo widget on your home screen that allows your friends and family to send you their photos in real time. So, whenever you unlock your phone, you can see a new photo, captured exclusively for you. 

It’s private, meaning that it’s only visible on your device, and it allows for more personalization of your iPhone. The best part is, you never know what you’ll receive, so it’s a surprise whenever you take a look at it. 

On the other side, it’ll probably encourage you to pick up your phone more because you’ll be interested if you have received a new photo from your friends. Consequently, your screen time will probably increase. Therefore, if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to decrease your phone usage, the Locket widget probably won’t get you there. 

So, how does it work? 

You can download it on the App Store for iPhone, it’s free and takes up to 90MB of storage. Then, you can add up to 20 friends from your contact list by sending them an iMessage. After you do that, you should add a Locket widget to your screen, and your friends should do the same. 

If you want to send a photo yourself, you can simply access the camera from the widget. Plus, you can use flash for your front camera! 

And that’s it. 

In the beginning, don’t get confused by your Locket displaying the message “No pics, yet”. That just means you still haven’t received any live pics. 

Over time, you’ll build a history of all the photos sent. It’s like a collaborative gallery that will make you smile whenever you see it. On that note, each month Locket will automatically create a recap video for you. 

This is a great alternative for people looking for a social media detox or who don’t want to be present on any commercial platforms but still want to see what their closest friends are up to. 

And we’re seeing more of this shift, since Instagram’s recent algorithms are pushing content from people we don’t even follow on our feeds, making it easy to miss posts from friends. 

With that in mind, we can understand why this widget was ranked among the best cultural apps of the year, sending another important message globally and allowing users to enjoy photo sharing, and protect their privacy and peaceful state of mind at the same time. 

Rating: 4/5 

Waterllama 

Waterllama is a water-tracking app, with smart reminders, hydration challenges and insight into your progress.  

As the reviews claim, it really does have a clean interface, it’s very vibrant and fun, and it makes you look forward to drinking water. If your goal is to increase your water intake, as well as other liquids, this app will help you achieve it through challenges and gamification. 

With a free version, you can only fill in your water intake, whereas for other drinks you’ll need to have a premium version. Also, to be able to access any other option, such as challenges, you’ll also need to switch to premium. 

In other words, if you’re looking for a free app that’ll just remind you to drink more water, you can probably find more suitable alternatives. But, if water intake is really important to you and you don’t mind spending a few additional dollars per month on an app like this, Waterllama is a good solution. 

We’ve only tested the free version and we’re not quite impressed, but we assume that the premium version is a much more fulfilling experience. What’s more, it’s available as Apple Watch or iOS widgets as well. 

However, we’re not quite sure why this app was among the best ranked for its cultural impact in 2022 since we’ve already seen this idea several years back. 

Rating: 2/5 

A journalist by day and a podcaster by night. She's not writing to impress but to be understood.