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Sunday, 16 April 2023

Mindful Mobile: A Review of 5 Meditation Apps

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Mindful Mobile: A Review of 5 Meditation Apps Associative picture from Unsplash

Meditation is a powerful tool that has been used for thousands of years to cultivate inner peace, enhance focus and concentration, and promote overall well-being. It involves training the mind to achieve a state of calmness and clarity, often through techniques like focused breathing, visualization, and body scanning.

Nowadays, meditation has become more popular than ever before. From reducing stress and anxiety to improving sleep and boosting creativity, the benefits of the practice are numerous and well-documented.

There are numerous sources to pick up meditation practices. One of the easiest ones is through mobile applications. However, as you may have guessed, there are countless apps available on the market. Which one should you choose? Even though the convenience of any particular app will vary from person to person, we have chosen and reviewed five of the most prominent ones. In this article, we will lay down the arguments for why they are good (or not) in four aspects:

  • The user experience
  • Content and features
  • Community
  • Cost



User experience.

Headspace's style corresponds quite nicely with the entire idea behind the app. It could best be described as ’’Simple and minimalistic’’ – and what more can you want from a meditation app, really?

As you fill out the introductory questionnaire about your experience and goals, you are then presented with a unique personalized plan for the day. It’s very clear to use and follow. Those who want to get more from the experience can switch to ’’explore’’ and find basically anything and everything related to meditation. The interface is eye-catching and beautiful as well as seamless to follow.



It was a great relief to find a disclaimer in the app that I should drop the expectations of something profound happening right away. I believe it’s a great introductory statement to people who wish to start meditating only because they expect amazing results right away. As is with most things in life, a meaningful meditation experience requires time and practice.

The app also allows you to easily track your progress, which provides both motivation and encouragement to engage with meditation as often as you can.

However, as you go to explore everything the app has to offer you about meditation, you can easily get lost. Even though, in essence, there are only 4 categories for content in the app (Meditate, Sleep, Move, and Focus), it’s not at all clear how they complement each other and interact with each other. There’s little education regarding meditation, and for someone who got into the app for a clear and concise experience, the notion of navigating through hundreds of different meditations for different purposes can be overwhelming, if not counter-productive. In other words, for an app that’s supposed to bring me inner peace, tranquility and oneness with myself, it’s rather scattered with no clear indication of how to bring all the pieces together.

Another aspect that’s worth critiquing is political pandering. I’ve come to the app for meditation, not education on the world's injustices. Therefore, I find the notion of politics in an app that’s supposed to offer tranquility and freedom from the world's worries rather distasteful.



There’s no community that you can interact with.


Cost ($69.99 for annual, $12.99 for monthly subscription)

Headspace offers its users a 14-day trial before they have to decide whether or not to keep using the app. In the context of other apps which usually offer up to 7 days trial, it’s quite a treat. However, the price range is rather high considering the fact that you’re paying for something you can do for free on your own. Additionally, the app has no free content – everything is locked behind a paywall once the trial period ends.





User experience.

Calm offers a very similar user experience to Headspace – there’s the personalized page aimed to cater to your needs, wants and goals according to the questionnaire you fill out after downloading the app; and then there’s the ’’discover’’ page, offering various content related to meditation. Finally, there’s the ’’Profile’’ page, revealing one’s progress and stats as well as offering a little extra in the form of a personal library, history, and various check-ins.

The app can feel a bit overwhelming and it will certainly take time to get used to in order to navigate it successfully and productively. It’s clear that the rule ’’less is more’’ was forgotten when creating the interface for the app.



When it comes to content, the app has a lot of stuff to offer – and that’s mainly where all the problems lie, for me, at least. For an app that’s called “Calm”, it certainly doesn’t feel that way when you browse all the different content, features, and categories. For example, you can discover content on the app according to these categories:

  • Dailies
  • Meditation
  • Music
  • Soundscapes
  • For Work
  • Sleep
  • Wisdom
  • Kids
  • Movement
  • Mindful Tools

Each offers countless practices and even more categories within the chosen category itself. Although some might find this useful to get precisely what you want, others will argue the app lacks clarity and will confuse a distracted mind rather than bring it to calmness as desired. Additionally, you can browse by your goals, desired timeframe, or discover featured collections. However, the app lacks educational content to get to know meditation a little better through theory.

All in all, it feels like the app wants to do and have everything – and it’s certainly not a perk for a mind that’s looking for calmness. On the other hand, if you’re chasing that perfect meditation practice and want to discover and experience as much content as possible, “Calm” will be an excellent fit for you.



The app has virtually no community around it. In essence, you can share your progress on social media and that is all – no interactions between users, no forums to discuss ideas.


Cost ($69.99 for annual subscription, $399.99 for lifetime)

The trial for “Calm” lasts only a week. After it ends, you can’t access anything without a subscription, except for the introductory courses. The price is the same as with “Headspace”.





User experience.

Aura is easy to navigate through the different content that the app provides and there’s certainly a lot of content in there. Just as with the previous apps, it is rather easy to get lost among the various features that the app provides. However, the structure of the app saves the day, making the navigation that much easier when compared to ’’Calm,’’ for example.

On the other hand, the main page of the app feels way closer to mindlessness rather than mindfulness – you can scroll to no end, similar to how you’d do it on social media. For an app built around meditation and mindfulness, the developers made a tragic decision to make the main page of the app a never-ending scroll of content.


Content and features.

From the very beginning, it seems like the app wants to know as much information about you as possible, just so the experience could be catered to your needs accordingly. However, it seems rather pointless as only a small fragment of the app’s content corresponds to the questionnaire you fill out at the start of using the app and is called “Programs For You”. If you stick to that, you will probably find the experience rather pleasant.

On the other hand, the amount of content on the app is truly overwhelming. For someone who has never tried meditation before, it will be extremely difficult to know and find exactly what they need or want.

To conclude, “Aura” offers an enormous amount of content around meditation. To those who know exactly what they need, it will be easy to navigate and find precisely the practices to cater to those needs. However, most people will find the experience overwhelming, especially beginners. The app’s layout is similar to that of a social media app and it gives out the same kind of feeling – any one practice within the app loses its value in an endless sea of content characterized by a mindless scroll.



Aura has quite a lot to offer in terms of community when compared to previous apps. There are various podcasts, personal couches, online lectures, etc. All of this content gives you a feel that you’re part of a larger community, especially when you register for a course that has other users signed up already. On the other hand, there’s a lack of interaction between the users.


Cost ($59.99 for annual subscription)

Similarly to other apps, Aura has a 7-day trial period and after it ends, the content is locked behind a paywall. You can still scroll through to find what you’re missing out on, though!



Healthy minds



User experience.

From the very first step after downloading the app, it stands out as truly caring about the user’s well-being. Rather than inquiring about what content you wish to find on the app (as the previous apps did), Healthy minds instead provides you with a long questionnaire focused on your health and well-being so that it can track your progress over time.

The Healthy minds app is smooth, clear, and easy to navigate – just the way a meditation app should be. Contrary to many other meditation apps, it is virtually impossible to get lost in the content of the app, even though it offers a similar navigation structure to its competitors.


Content and features.

The content on the Healthy minds app is structured in a concise way which makes it a pleasure to navigate.

The home page for the app is called ’’My Path’’ and includes 5 different categories on which you can improve yourself:

  • Foundational skills of training your mind
  • Awareness
  • Appreciation, kindness, and compassion
  • Insight
  • Deeper motivations and core values

The categories are structured clearly and offer a limited number of lessons and meditations. You can either improve yourself through meditation by focusing on one of them or doing all simultaneously. Every category adds to each other and together they create a path for improving one’s life, health, and being.

Contrary to other apps, the ’’Explore’’ option provides far less content. However, it is structured in a much better way and is much easier to navigate through, even if you’re a beginner and don’t know what you need exactly.



It would be great to share one’s progress with others or discuss the various aspects of the path. However, similar to other apps, the community aspect of Healthy minds is non-existent.



The Healthy minds app is completely free to use, although users can donate to the cause. 


Mindfulness app


User experience.

Mindfulness app probably feels the closest to meditation out of all the apps reviewed today. Additionally, it is seamlessly navigated and offers a beautiful design that corresponds to the notion of tranquility associated with meditation. It’s seamless to both find exactly what you’re looking for and discover something novel on the app.


Content and features

Mindfulness app offers a lot of meditations, yet the app never feels overwhelming. It offers the perfect balance between the quantity and distribution of the content within. Everything is easy to find and navigate, complementing the experience within the app as well as radiating the calmness and tranquility that one seeks to find in a similar app.



There’s no way to interact with other users. However, you can share your progress with your loved ones or on social media. Additionally, the app provides you with a number of people that are currently using the app for meditation, which brings a fuzzy feeling of interconnectedness.


Cost ($59.99 annual, $9.99 monthly subsciption)

The app’s trial period is 7 days. However, many features within the app are free to use, and there are other ways to access additional content without subscribing to the app. However, for the full experience, one will have to subscribe eventually – but you’ll be sure that you’re paying for something profound.



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