In its annual iTunes store retrospective, Apple named ubiquitous photo app Instagram as its “definitive” app of the year, saying that the photography filter program makes it “near-impossible to take a bad shot.”

Instagram announced this summer that it had hit 5 million users only eight months after it was introduced. In a company blog post Thursday, the now 14-month-old company said that it has more than 14 million users who post about 400 million images.

Flipboard was Apple’s app of the year in 2010.

Runner-up apps of the year were VidRhythm, which lets users create their own music videos with special effects, and the music-recommendation and curation app Band Of The Day.

In gaming apps, Apple’s recommendation gurus named Tiny Tower as the top game of the year. This mobile game — reminiscent of SimTower — let players create a residential and commercial tower and control the lives of its inhabitants, known in the game as “bitizens.”

A personal favorite of mine, Tiny Wings, was named as a runner-up to Apple’s game of the year, as was the stunt-racing biking game Touchgrind BMX.

Top-selling games of the year included many flavors of Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Cut the Rope and Words with Friends.

Apple also made top recommendations for music, movies, TV shows, books and podcasts. Adele was the top artist of the year, though the Foo Fighters’s “Wasting Light” got the nod for top album. In podcasts, Apple recognized newbies The Jillian Michaels Show and Epic Meal Time, as well as overall best distinctions for NPR’s “Fresh Air” and TED’s “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

Four movies were named the top flicks of their genre: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” was the best blockbuster, “Bridesmaids” was named the best comedy, “Midnight in Paris” was the best indie film and “Beginners” snagged a mention as the best comedy. In TV, “Modern Family,” “Breaking Bad,” “Downtown Abbey” and “Parks and Recreation” were named the best in their respective categories of half-hour program, drama, discovery and breakout comedy.

For bookworms, Apple’s top picks of the year were Tea Obreht’s “The Tiger’s Wife,” Michael Lewis’ “Boomerang,” Ruta Septetvs young-adult title “Between Shades of Gray” and Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’s enhanced tome on Jacqueline Kennedy.

Related stories:

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Tiny Wings soothes with dreams of flight

Google Android Market tops 10 billion downloads