Thursday, 21 April 2011

Which Are the Best Meditation Timer Apps for Android?

Which are the best meditation timer apps for Android phones and devices? Today seems as good a day as any to answer this question, as it's the start of the long weekend. As well as time off, bank holidays are just made for messing about with your phone (and meditation, of course).

Also, I have a passion for bringing meditation into everyday life. And, at the moment, apps are beginning to do that in a remarkable way.

 "What about Apple?", I hear you cry?."They have loads more apps than Android! Why stick to just Android?"

That's an easy one. At the moment, I only have an Android phone. But if you are an Iphone, or Ipad devotee, I've indicated if another version is available for the various pieces of Apple kit.

Criteria for assessing the meditation apps

Anyway down to the main business of this post. Which are the best meditation apps for Android? Obviously any decisions of this kind are going to be subjective. But I've tried to make things a little more concrete by thinking about the following criteria in relation to each app.

Those criteria are:

1. Is the app closely  related to meditation ? (Obvious, but worth saying).

2. Is the free version of the app worth using in its own right?

3. Is the app easy to begin using straight away as a timer? (You might want to meditate slowly, but get to grips with your technology quickly enough to make this possible:-)

4. Does  the app have something that makes it stand out more than an ordinary download or mobile-enabled webpage? (In other words, is this a good app, rather than just an ad vehicle?)

5. Are they available via the Android market, as some guarantee of security, longevity and ease of installation for the app? (All apps in the list below *are* available in the Android market).

So, it's time for a drumroll.  This is just my opinion, and no-one's paid me a bean to say this, but...

As at April 21st 2011,  I feel that the...

Best Meditation Apps for Android are:

1. The Insight Meditation Timer/Insight Meditation Timer Lite (Also available via the Itunes App Store)

This is simple to use, and allows you to set a bell chime to ring at the beginning and end of a meditation period that you define. In the paid version, you can also define intervals during your meditation at which the bell can ring. What's more, I found it easy to figure all of that out in seconds.

This element of user control makes it an app well worthy of the name, and I particularly liked the quality of the bell chime. The chime sent me straight into a meditative state, and brought me out calmly again. (And that's even though I usually dislike meditation timers precisely because they encourage me to think about, "when the bell's going to ring" rather than meditating).

2. The Zazen Meditation Timer (Also available from the ITunes App store)

In many way, this is a similar idea to the insight timer. It allows you to program sessions of defined lengths. In fact, it even allows you to program sections of sessions in the free version, and to choose your bell chime, all within the free version. So why is this number two?

Well, this is where it gets subjective. Personally, I didn't find either of the bell sounds provided as meditative as the one given by Insight. I didn't have any custom bell sounds on hand to upload. And it took me so long to figure out how to program the intervals, that I gave up.

However, if you prefer different pitches to me, and have a need for free, detailed interval programming within your meditations, this could be a great choice.

3. JustSit Meditation Timer (Android only at the moment, so far as I can tell)

This is the simplest of the "true meditation timers". Like the Insight, it enables you to program one simple meditation session, with a sound at the beginning and the end. Like the Insight, it's easy to use. Unlike the Insight, I found the tone provided wasn't as meditative as the Insight's bell (and *very* quiet on its default setting). And again, I didn't have a meditative sound to hand on my phone to insert instead. But it's a good, free, basic meditation timer.

4. Om Mani Padme Hung (Android only, though there is I think an  "Om mani padme hum" app from another app creator, at ITunes)

This isn't strictly a timer, so it comes further down the list. But it's worth mentioning, as the sound of this famous Tibetan mantrum being chanted, coupled with the spinning prayer-wheel image, makes it a great app, and very meditative. On the downside, the placement of the ads in the free version could feel very interruptive over time (which I guess, is the point-the makers want you to upgrade).

5. Phone Chime (Android only)

This isn't a timer at all, so comes way, way, down the list. But I felt I had to mention it as it's great fun, and would be a possible backdrop to meditation (if you're prepared to be brave, as the app creators suggest, and hang your phone up securely).

Even without hanging your phone up, swaying the phone turns it into one of several different windchimes (eg metal, shell etc) that play at random with each sway, as if in a breeze, complete with background nature sounds.

So there you have it. I hope this review has been helpful. And if I've missed out any other meditation timer apps for Android, please let me know.

Update 31/07/14: Two newer apps

Tslocom's comment below reminded me that it was probably time to update or add to this post. So, here are two more, newer apps worth a look, in no special order:

Meditation Assistant Free

This app definitely ticks the boxes above and is easy to use. The link to the calendar is also nifty if you're worried about fitting meditation into your day.

I personally found that the other apps on my devices didn't switch off when this was running, so I got alerted to email half-way through. But this could be due to something I was doing wrong.Update on August 1st 2014-Thanks to tslocum in the comments below, I can confirm that it's perfectly[ possible to switch off any other distractions on my device through this app, and the error was mine!]

In addition, on my device, the timer came out black and white, with, from memory, some grey. This may be exactly what you're looking for. As I like some colour and pictures, the black and white felt too stark and "businesslike" for me. But that's just a  personal preference. Meditation Assistant Free could very well be the simple, no-fuss, non-denominational reminder and timer that you need.

Lastly, I also like that you can come out of the meditation with this app via any sound on the device: a nice touch.

Buddhist Meditation Trainer

This app probably won't be to everyone's taste. It does, as the name suggests, slant heavily towards Buddhism. Nor is it just a simple timer: the idea is that you meditate on a particular quote and picture each day. So, if you're looking for a no-frills timer, this isn't it.

Having said all that, as a matter of personal preference, I *loved* this app, because:

-It doesn't seek any personal data or info from your phone at all (always a plus!)
-It has beautiful colours, and truly restful photos.
-The quotes go well with the pictures and give a simple, but very effective point of focus for meditation that (for me) worked deeply, fast and well.
- Choices of the sounds to end meditation are flexible, appropriate and calm.

There you have it. If the two latest apps illustrate anything, it's that one size does not fit all. Have fun trying things out and seeing what suits you. And please comment on your experience, or any other apps you find!

PS. There are now so many new Android meditation apps from which to choose that I plan to publish a new and greatly-expanded version of this post soon.


  1. All great apps! For anyone looking for guided meditation there is a new app that just came out in the Android Market called Visulax Quick Break.

    1. Thank you for letting me know that. I did wonder-and checked it. Obviously erroneously. Heigh ho!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Michel Mandjes27 June 2012 at 10:34

    Thanks for the information. I've tried out quite a few meditation timers and for the last few weeks I've been using this one ('Meditation Timer') for Android:
    It works fine if you want to create meditation steps specified in minutes and seconds, there is no option for hours. So maybe in the future I'll switch again :)
    It's free but it shows ads, there is an option to disable the ads but I haven't tried that yet.

    1. Thanks Michel

      I'm having trouble downloading new apps at the moment...probably time to get a new phone. But I'll try this out on a newer android!

  4. Thanks for this very informative page. Just one detail: "mantra" is sanskrit, not latin, so singular is "mantra", not "mantrum" which doesn't exist.

  5. You have spent long time for this post. It's a very useful and interesting site. Thanks!MEDITATION.

  6. Good Info for our Meditation Plan.I Like ur Articles,I Will come to ur sites again.Thank’s
    *******PLEASE Visits >>>>>>>>>> Meditation uk ******

  7. Well this content is good.. but i think that the Nature Sounds are the best example of Meditation Music
    Thanks for that also

  8. Well that's a helpful information about the Stress Relief and Meditation Music by technology

  9. Hi, This is a good post, indeed a great job. You must have done good research for the work, i appreciate your efforts. Looking for more updates from your side on Nature Sounds

  10. Feeling stressed and finding it difficult to fit everything into the day? Perhaps it's time to join the mindfulness revolution. Here are 5 best iOS apps for meditation this summer.

  11. Please add Meditation Assistant Free, an awesome meditation timer. I should know, as I wrote it.

    1. Thanks for the prompt tslocum-I have added a review!

    2. Really appreciate it. Your thoughts are well taken, and I will look into adding some more color for those who would prefer it.

      You mentioned getting notifications during a session, do you mean the device still made a sound/vibrated after you set the "Ringtone / notifications" setting to silent/vibrate? I'd like to investigate this further. Feel free to email me at with your response.

    3. Thanks tslocum- found the ringtone notifications. The error was mine and I have amended the review accordingly. Please do let me know if/when you make the colour/(color!) additions, and I'll review it again.

      In the meantime, many thanks for your input and comments.

    4. I've updated the app with a new theme called "Buddhism". Please let me know how you like it, and feel free to suggest any tweaks to make it more appealing.

    5. Thanks tslocum. I've downloaded the app, and even looking through settings, I can't see how to access the new theme.(I also uninstalled it and re-installed it to see if that made a difference.

      I'm more than happy to take your word for it that it's there, as I'm definitely *not* an app wiz. I promise I will explore it further when I sit down to re-review everything. In the meantime, many thanks.

    6. Hey Clare, it's hiding at the very bottom of the Settings window. Tap "Holographic Theme" to change the appearance.

  12. Hi Everyone!

    Please also consider the new and bubbly meditation timer App: