Google has officially unveiled the list of the best apps and games of 2020 on its Play Store platform, and the biggest prize of the best app of 2020 has been taken home by Indian startup Wysa’s calm sleep assistance and meditation app, named ‘Sleep stories for calm sleep — Meditate with Wysa’. Describing the app on its awards page, Google’s description said, “Sleep by Wysa captivated us like no other app this year, with its innovative take on improving sleep. Explore tools and exercises that calm the mind using cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i), and relax with evening journaling and meditation. You can even get personal coaching in one-on-one sessions with a sleep therapist.”
Founded by Indian entrepreneur Jo Aggarwal, Wysa has been working on developing an artificial intelligence chatbot model that focuses on humane aspects such as empathy. One of the key areas where it is working is centred around teaching the AI model how to react to emotions, thereby offering mental health assistance to those in need. The ‘Sleep stories’ app that has been judged the best app of 2020 on the Google Play Store is a diversified offering by Aggarwal’s startup, which uses the same chatbot to help facilitate sleep. For many, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused multiple issues as we went through extensive lifestyle changes. An app such as this can, hence, help alter the fabric of thought around managing sleep and related sleep disorders, therefore justifying its position as being awarded as the best Android app of 2020.
In a prior interview with News18, Aggarwal, Wysa founder, said of the technology she’s trying to build, “Creating empathy is a combination of science and art. The science is focused on building strong AI models using our 100 million-odd conversations to understand user inputs (we have more than 100 of these), to recognise a gamut of emotions like anger, grief, sadness, or anxiety. The art in this is about writing content in a way that is robust, is based on evidence-based techniques, and driven clinical input and review. Yet, it should feel accessible and friendly, and use colloquial language that is easy to understand.” The ‘Sleep stories’ app is an extension of the main Wysa chatbot app, which has a rating of 4.7 on the Google Play Store from over 66,000 ratings and reviews.
Among other categories, Indian apps that featured alongside big global titles include MyGov’s Aatmanirbhar App Challenge awardee, Koo — a micro-blogging app similar to Twitter, but based solely on vernacular languages. Short video app Moj, built by Sharechat after the ban on TikTok in India, has also featured on Google’s lists, alongside MX TakaTak, Bolkar and Pratilipti FM. Each of these apps have featured as nominees in the ‘user’s choice app of 2020’ category, while Koo has also been chosen as one of the best apps in the everyday essentials category. Indian startup Khatabook’s MyStore, Bolkar and ‘apna Job Search’ have featured in personal growth, while Moj, TakaTak and Pratilipti FM have been awarded in the ‘best apps for fun’ category.