After going through fourteen competing apps, three key competitors were selected for further analysis. Each describe the competition from a specific, helpful angle. These three are:
Feature set: A a rich feature set with a focus on community.
Insight Timer covers two main areas: a) A timer with customizable presents, different bells & simple statistics, and b) Community/Learning which include forums, nearby in-person groups and guided meditations.
Keeping the mediator motivated: Some simple statistics and social features.
Insight Timer features some simple counters & charts to visualize the progress. It includes milestones, which appear to be a form of achievements, presumably given after a certain amount of meditation. It also displays the progress of friends and other users, facilitating peer motivation. The forums/groups might help binding the user to the app, but it requires something that is fundamentally different from a timer.
User Interface: Disorienting & unresponsive.
Despite it solid feature set, the user interface is rather disorienting, as it does not follow the typical iOS design paradigms. It’s also not a native app, meaning it feels quite slow, unresponsive and it only works when connected to the internet. Its touch areas are small and it is not always clear what will happen when touching an object. Insight Timer incorporates some animations, but they feel out of place and complicate the navigation, rather than making it easier.
Insight Timer features a somewhat spiritually branded style, with depictions of traditional meditation instruments and groups/guided meditation aimed at prayer/self-improvement.
Feature set: Sattva comes with a multitude of features.
Sattva is focused on guided meditations, gamification and tracking. It offers an appstore of sorts for guided meditations, a complex set of achievements, reminders, and offers to track a large variety of variables like heart-rate, state of mind and meditation time/frequency.
Keeping the meditator motivated: Might get in the way, instead of helping to stay focused.
Sattva wants to be the front and center of your meditation routine. It visualizes your progress with statistics and a timeline. When all the tracking, reminders, achievements and guided meditations work together, the result appears to be promising. However, all of this looks quite inflexible and if you don’t organize your meditation life around to the app, they might get in the way.
User Interface: Mostly intuitive, but overwhelming.
Sattva’s Interface is pretty, feels responsive and follows the iOS design paradigms, the navigation is usually intuitive. However, due to the app’s vast feature-set it can easily be overwhelming. They also make it slow to use; it takes five to eight taps just to launch the timer. It’s not always clear whether or not a certain area is a text field or a button. Although its buttons are usually decently sized, they are also sometimes small and hard to spot. Sattva also requires a network connection.
Aesthetic: Self Development/Spirituality
Sattva’s aesthetic revolves mostly on self development with the focus on guided meditations, but also includes references to traditional, spiritual topics.
Feature set: Just a timer, a journal and some simple statistics.
Self is a minimalist timer app, it just comes with a timer and some simple statistics. Besides that, it has the ability to set a background soundtrack and to take notes after meditating.
Keeping the meditator motivated: Simplicity provides a clearer overview of the progress.
Self comes with little tracking and no achievements, however this simplicity provides a clearer overview of the progress and does not get in the way. The integrated journal might make the progress feel more meaningful and help the user to stay focused. Self also comes with a graph of daily/monthly meditation time. There is essentially no gamification and no reminders.
User Interface: Fast and responsive, but very unstable.
Self’s Interface feels fast and responsive, with big, welcoming buttons. All it takes is a single tap to start the timer. Self is inspired by iOS design paradigms, and due to its slim feature set, it is somewhat easy to navigate. Almost all features are accessible right from the home screen, but the app is very unstable and crashes on a regular basis. The background music feature causes the app to crash immediately. Self works offline too.
Aesthetic: Mostly neutral.
Self mostly holds true to its tag line “The meditation machine” and has a rather neutral feel to it, with little traces of spirituality. This makes the app feel more welcoming as it presents itself as just a tool and doesn’t tell the meditator what to do.
The competition features a variety of different approaches, but none of them are very mature. They each are either rather simple or they get in the way.
List of all apps reviewed: