I think I have to go with Duolingo on this one.
Duolingo is a language learning app that, while has nothing terribly unique or special about it’s UX or UI, it’s clean, simple, well designed, and a pleasure to use. Ultimately their app is in a constant state of displaying lists of things. Navigation is all through taps and swipes, but what I like so much about it is that it presents the information you want. The stuff that’s most important. In this case, I’m entirely ignoring is efficacy as a language learning tool and simply focusing on the interaction and experience the user has.
When you first open the app, assuming you’ve logged in at least once before and selected a language, you’re immediately greeted with all the lessons for that language. There was clearly a lot of thought regarding how to structure the flow of lessons, working from dead simple to more complex. The interface is super simple, there’s never any doubt about how to accomplish what you want, and the flair of the animations makes it that much more friendly to interact with.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the characters that greet you during each question. I get that they’re trying to add context to the question by showing a type of person that might require that type of interaction or response, but without knowing how effective these cartoons are at achieving context, well, it makes it difficult for me to really appreciate them. They seem a little too goofy. But they do fit the aesthetic of the rest of the app, so they’ve haven’t gone off book. I’m just not sure. I dont’ know what they add other than a little flair and a way to take up screen space that would otherwise be empty.
With that said, the characters do not hamper my enjoyment of the app at all.
Just to restate – what I like about apps are simplicity. Apps are supposed to be little modules that do one thing and do it well. They should present the information you want when you want it without crowding your attention with peripheral stuff. I think Duolingo does an excellent job of accomplishing that.