A Look at the Best Apps of 2014

These apps enhanced the way we use our smartphones.

— -- intro: What makes an app great?

Something that makes our lives easier or allows us to stay connected in innovative new ways.

The year 2014 was a great year for apps. Here are a few that stood out from the pack.

quicklist: 1 title: Hyperlapse text: Instagram's spin-off app allows users to take amazing time-lapse videos that look worthy of being on the big screen. What would have required expensive equipment can now be achieved with an app.

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quicklist: 2 title: Swarm text: Splitting the atom paid off for Foursquare, which spun off its social component into a separate app called Swarm, which allows users to share their location with friends and make plans.

Foursquare was transformed into a turbocharged app for discovering and exploring new places, whether by name, location, a friend's recommendation or a user's tastes.

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quicklist: 3 title: Microsoft Goes Mobile text: Productivity got even easier in 2014 when Microsoft released its suite of Office apps for free to users on iOS and Android, making it easier to create and edit documents and presentations while on the go.

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quicklist: 4 title: Facebook Groups text: It's been a year full of spin-off apps for Facebook, but Groups is the one that stood out above the rest.

Groups is designed to be a complementary experience for the most frequent users of the service and people who want another avenue for engagement.

In a matter of just a few taps, users can create new groups, post to existing ones and discover new communities to join.

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quicklist: 5 title: "The Tinder of" text: Forget a match made in heaven. How about a match made with a mutual right swipe?

Following on the success of Tinder, swipe right/left apps are having quite a year. Among them are Strut, which is like Tinder for shopping, and Jobr, which matches job seekers and recruiters.

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quicklist: 6 title: Google Inbox text: Goodbye, clutter!

"Inbox," a super-powered app for Gmail users that provides organization and context to existing emails, began rolling out in October on an invitation-only basis.

Inbox is so smart that it will even add real-time information from the Internet to your emails, such as letting you know if your flight is delayed.

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quicklist: 7 title: Dumb Ways to Die 2 text: What started in 2012 public service announcement for Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia, has turned into two wickedly successful games.

A follow-up to last year's "Dumb Ways to Die" game was released this year -- and users can't get enough of the simple and addictive game that effortlessly fills the void left by Flappy Bird.

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quicklist: 8 title: RIP Flappy Bird text: Let's take a moment of silence for "Flappy Bird."

The enormously addictive game that has been downloaded millions of times was pulled from app stores in February after creator Dong Nguyen said the game's stunning success had upended his "simple" life.

Nguyen returned in August with a follow-up, Swing Copters, that left many gamers still missing their Flappy Bird fix.

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