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March 25, 2022

Meditation App Development: Everything You Need to Know

Here is a complete guide on meditation app development, including market stats, necessary features, challenges to consider, tech stacks, and costs.

Dasha Rizoy

Head of Business Development

Ten or fifteen years ago, no one could have imagined we would come to rely on our phones so much in daily life. We work with them, rest with them, and even sleep with them. All these activities doubled and tripled when the COVID-19 pandemic spread rampantly all over the world. Now, more and more business owners search for something like "how to create a fintech app" or "how to build a mobile game" to meet the growing demand. When we spend so much time staring at our phone screens and are online 24/7, it’s easy to get anxious and exhausted. It’s no wonder that meditation has become a hot topic.

Meditating is considered one of the most efficient ways to calm down and focus on important things. There are plenty of online resources that can help people start meditating and help them figure out if it works for them. In this article, we will talk about the meditation app development process, challenges for these apps, and the costs involved.

Meditation app market overview

As mentioned above, the meditation services market is booming in 2022, with no signs of decline anytime soon. However, we don’t expect you to just accept this without questioning it. Without hard proof, words alone hardly mean anything. So, let’s take a look at some market statistics that can back up our statement.

  • In 2019, mobile users spent around $195 million on meditation apps. (Sensor Tower)

  • The total value of the meditation and mindfulness app market is expected to reach $180 million by 2032. (Fact.MR)

  • Searches like "mindfulness apps" or "yoga for beginners app" grew 65% year on year. (Google)

  • Downloads of the top ten English-language meditation apps surged by 20 million when the pandemic began. (Sensor Tower)

  • The most popular meditation apps (Headspace and Calm) have around 70% of the market share. (CompareCamp)

Leading health and meditation apps worldwide

Types of meditation apps

Since there are a lot of meditation techniques that have different purposes and approaches, it can be hard to incorporate them into a single interface without overloading the user. For this reason, a successful meditation app needs to choose a specific niche to work in.

Types of meditation apps

Sleep meditation apps

This type of app targets people with sleeping problems like insomnia or recurring nightmares. Meditation assistance such as relaxing voiceovers and melodies are included to calm a person down and help them go to sleep. It’s also a good idea to include a library of natural sounds since they have a comforting and soothing effect.

Anxiety-calming apps

Anxiety-calming apps are useful for people who suffer from any form of anxiety. They include sets of guided meditation sessions, as well as audio and video files with instructions and relaxing music. Usually, these sessions last between 10 and 20 minutes depending on the app.

Breath meditation apps

Breathing exercises are one of the most effective ways to calm yourself down and stay focused. This type of app has a counter and a specific breathing pattern which shows users when and how to correctly inhale and exhale. These techniques can be used for dealing with anxiety or lowering stress levels.

Stress management apps

This type of meditation app helps users measure their stress level, determines possible causes of stress, and proposes exercises and others methods for coping with it. These tools can include images, videos, and music.

Focus apps

Due to the number of applications and services we use constantly in modern life, it’s no wonder that a lot of people get easily distracted. Meditation apps for concentration help people put the distractions aside and focus all their attention on one task.

Yoga apps

It’s no secret that meditation and yoga often go together. If you decide to build a yoga app, you should consider combining the exercises with meditation techniques. You can also include different levels of difficulty for beginners and advanced users, progress tracking, and customization options for practice sessions.

If you don’t want to limit yourself to a single direction, you can create a mixed application. For example, you can easily combine an anxiety relief app with a stress-relieving type.

Top meditation apps

Next, let’s take a closer look at the success stories of meditation apps that are already used by hundreds and thousands of users.

  • Headspace

Headspace

It’s impossible to talk about meditation apps without mentioning Headspace. It’s the most recommended application for those who want to start meditating. This app combines pleasing design with joyful animations and a simple interface, achieving superb user-friendliness and a near-perfect user experience. 

More importantly, Headspace provides users with hundreds of guided meditations, sounds, and music for nearly any situation you can imagine. If you need to combat anxiety, grief, stress, low self-esteem, sleep problems, or body image, this app is a perfect solution. In addition, Headspace has special meditation lessons for children to help them familiarize themselves with this type of activity.

The estimated annual revenue of Headspace is estimated to be between $100 and $500 million.

  • Calm

Calm

Another prominent name in the meditation category. Calm is an all-purpose meditation app suitable for both beginners and more experienced users. People love its peaceful videos, high-quality content, and famous “Sleep Stories” which are a kind of fairy tales for adults. These stories are narrated by professional actors (including Kate Winslet, Cillian Murphy, and Idris Elba) and other celebrities (such as LeBron James and Harry Styles), so you can fall asleep to the voice of your idol.

You can also use Calm with your Apple Watch to access breathing techniques and walking meditations. A free trial is available, and if you decide to continue using it, you can subscribe for $15 per month.

In 2020, the app’s total subscribers reached 4 million subscribers and its earnings totaled $2 billion.

  • Insight Timer

Insight Timer

Many people feel that Insight Timer is extremely underestimated in the world of meditation apps. However, with a 4.9 rating on both the App Store and Google Play, Insight Timer is getting the recognition it deserves. What makes this app really appealing to users is its free library. There are more than 50,000 guided meditation, sound, and music options available for users with no payment required.

A premium subscription is also available for $10 per month. The additional features will include offline listening, additional content, advanced courses, and a powerful audio player.

  • Aura

Aura

Personalization is the core concept of Aura. When a user opens the app, they click on their mood for the day and Aura organizes special compilations of meditations, sounds, and stories based on their selection. In addition, Spotify-like playlists are available with themed meditation music to listen to. The application also has a mood tracker that allows the user to see how their mood changes and how meditation affects their well-being.

Breathing techniques and music playlists are not all Aura offers. Other features include life coaching, a gratitude journal, sleep tales, and mindfulness teachers who are always ready to help. Aura has a free version (which a lot of users feel is sufficient) and a premium membership version which costs $12 per month.

  • Sattva

Sattva

If you want to opt for a more traditional approach to meditation, Sattva may be just right for you. This app bases its sessions on ancient Vedic principles to provide you with a more spiritual experience. Users can start with a 6-minute meditation and then increase the time as desired. Sattva provides users with mantras and chants narrated by Sanskrit scholars so all the sessions are immersive and authentic.

The app has both free and premium versions. The premium subscription costs $13 per month. Lifetime access to all content is also available for a one-time fee of $400.

Features of a meditation app

Since there are plenty of meditation apps on the market, users already expect these apps to include several essential functions. Here is a list of features your app should have regardless of its type.

  • Sign up/Sign in: Users should be able to register via social media profiles, email, or phone numbers. The whole procedure should be quick and easy so they can start meditating as soon as possible.

  • User profile: Users should be able to track their progress and manage their preferences and subscriptions here.

  • Onboarding: Any application needs a short and simple introduction to its functions so users will be able to easily navigate the various operations.

  • Navigation menu: This is a feature every application should have. It helps users easily navigate inside the app.

  • Discovery screen: In this section, you can recommend the most popular meditations and provide personalized recommendations based on individual user data.

  • Meditation and music library: You can offer various types of content like guided meditations, natural sounds, relaxing music, and sleep stories. Also, implementing filters to enable users to organize the library the way they want is a nice feature.

  • Search: If the library is large, you should implement search functionality so users can find the exact meditation or song they want.

  • Favorite list: This function allows users to list their favorite tracks and meditations in the order they find the most relaxing.

  • Countdown timer: Allows users to set a timer for meditation sessions. This helps people adjust meditations to their pace of life.

  • Audio player: As with any functional element of a meditation app, it should be simple and intuitive, so users can listen to sounds and music and pause them if necessary.

  • Push notifications: Used to remind users about sessions and keep them updated.

How to make a meditation app: Steps to follow

Before getting into specific details like development cost and the tech stack needed for a meditation app, the next section will cover a general strategy for app creation.

How to make a meditation apps

1. Decide on a type and target audience

The very first thing to consider when you’re thinking about creating a meditation app is defining your target user group. This will help you shape the marketing strategy and choose the correct type of app. We have already mentioned several options, however, you can also choose something more specific. For example, you could focus on anxiety-relieving meditations for people with PTSD or make a collection of relaxing music for office workers.

2. Research your competitors

Competition is essential to a healthy market, and you should be aware of your rivals to secure a place for your app. Things to be aware of include what they offer to the public, what audience the app targets, why people love them, and what users want to add or change. This information will help you make an informed decision about what features to include in your app and how to attract users.

3. Hire a team

Once you have completed the two previous steps, you can start looking for a team that will help you turn your idea into reality. You should pay attention not only to the team's location and hourly rate but also to their level of expertise and reviews from previous clients. This will help you understand if they will be a good fit for your project.

4. Design

UI/UX design is crucial for a meditation app. Many of your potential users are likely to download and use your app not just to relax but also to help them handle anxiety and stress. For this reason, you should be careful to ensure your meditation app will not introduce new frustration into their lives. Pastel colors, simple layouts, and smooth animations are what you need to make a perfect-looking app.

5. Develop

Since the meditation app market is quite competitive, we recommend you start with a minimum viable product (MVP). This includes only the core features that define how your app is beneficial for users. If the reception is good, you can continue updating and upgrading it into a full-scale app. If it is poor, you will need to review the concept and fix your mistakes before giving it another try.

6. Add integration

To complete this stage, you can use APIs provided by manufacturers. For example, if you plan to integrate your app with wearable devices, you can use the APIs for Wear OS and Watch OS from Google and Apple, since they are the most popular OS options for smartwatches.

7. Test

In this stage, QA engineers make sure that every single aspect of your app works as it should. This includes code, design, overall performance, loading speed, and other important elements.

8. Release and support

After your meditation app is launched, the maintenance work starts. You will need to publish relevant updates and help users resolve technical issues. In addition, no matter how hard the QA team tries, users will typically find one or two more bugs anyway, and your job is to fix them in a timely fashion.

9. Track and analyze user engagement

It’s important to track users’ activity after the app is released. Analysis of the most popular meditations, the most used user flows, and possible blocks will help you improve your application and make it more user-friendly.

Tips and practices to consider

Now that we have covered the general steps of meditation app development, let’s take a look at some tips and tricks that will level up your app and make it stand out from the crowd.

Tips and practices to consider
  • Use AR/VR

Augmented and virtual reality can significantly assist users battling anxiety, phobias, and fears. These technologies can create a safe environment for a person to face their triggers and work on them. In addition, you can design relaxing settings users can visit virtually to calm down faster.

  • Make it fun with gamification

Gamification elements are powerful boosters for app engagement. For example, you can add simple rewards for completing meditations. These can be fancy badges or pins that users can add to their virtual dashboard.

  • Be transparent

There are a lot of apps that can help you meditate, but not all of them are based on scientific facts and proven methods. For this reason, users can be suspicious of new meditation apps. You should use expert sources in combination with the content library and be honest with users in order to win their trust.

  • Try e-commerce

If you offer physical goods for meditation such as yoga mats, cushions, and aroma sticks, you can implement an e-commerce element to your app that allows users to buy these products directly from you.

Challenges to overcome

All business-related processes and activities have two sides: the one where you earn money and upgrade your product and the other one where you respond to negative feedback and deal with force majeure. So, let’s talk about the possible drawbacks you may face while developing a meditation app.

  • Combining simplicity and speed: In order to retain the audience, you will need to update your app’s library frequently with new content like sounds and music. This can significantly impact the loading speed and simplicity of usage, so you will have to be careful to balance these two aspects.

  • Expensive subscription plans: Since a lot of digital meditation solutions are completely free or have free versions, charging more than average for a new app will drive away potential users. To win their attention, you can start with a free MVP and then, as you add more functions, you can implement paid options.

  • Localization: If you want to go global, you should think about translating all the content into other languages. To do this, you will have to hire experts that can help you since sloppy translations will make a bad impression on international users.

  • Smartwatch compatibility: Creating an app for smartwatches can be quite challenging since there are a lot of devices on which it can be installed, but it’s also a good opportunity to reach a wider audience.

Next, let’s talk about the technologies needed and the costs of meditation app development.

Tech stack & team composition

Depending on the type and scale of your meditation app, the exact list of tools and technologies will vary. This section covers the most common tech stack that is proven to be efficient for the development of this kind of software.

  • Technologies: Kotlin, Java, Swift, React.js, Node.js

  • Hosting: AWS

  • Payment gateway: Stripe, Braintree PayPal

  • DevOps: Parcel

  • Push notifications: Firebase, PubNub, Twilio

  • Analytics: Google Analytics, Branch, Amplitude

This toolset is a general starting point, and it can be easily tailored to the specific needs of your business. However, these technologies are generally the most suitable for meditation app development.

Next, let’s take a look at the possible team composition that will be able to handle your project. The most essential team members, in this case, are the following.

  • Project manager—to ensure all processes are moving forward exactly as they should.

  • Business analyst—to estimate the chances of success for your idea and analyze the market.

  • Designers—to make your app both user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

  • Backend engineers—to create a solid and functional back end.

  • Frontend engineers—to develop the client side of your app.

  • QA engineers—to check the app for bugs and errors before the release.

In addition to the above, you should consult relevant specialists in the field such as trainers, meditation gurus, and mindfulness teachers who can provide you with additional insights and advice on how the app should work.

Cost to build a meditation app

There are numerous factors which can influence the final development costs. These factors include time frame, desired feature set, third-party integration, the team’s hourly rate, and the location. For this reason, estimating the exact cost of developing a meditation app is hard to do without all the details on hand. Here is an approximate estimation of such a product assuming that it has all the features discussed above.

Development stageHours
Preparatory stage (business analysis, market research, documentation)70-100
Prototyping100
Design100-150
Backend development240-280
Frontend development450-500
QA150-200

Accordingly, if the average hourly rate is $50, the approximate cost of creating a meditation app will range from $50,000—$70,000. Please contact our specialists for a more precise estimate based on your specifications.

Ways to monetize a meditation app like Calm

Now that we’ve covered the cost of meditation app development, it’s time to talk about how you can recoup this investment. There are several ways to do it.

Ways to monetize a meditation app like Calm
  • Pay-to-download

This method is old, inflexible, and, frankly speaking, quite outdated. To make it work, your application needs to be extremely unique and user-friendly in order to attract and retain users. In addition, pay-to-download monetization can scare off potential users since they won’t know if they can trust your product before purchasing.

  • Subscription

A renewable subscription (weekly or monthly) service is a tried and tested method of monetization. Lots of apps and services use this system to generate a more stable revenue stream so they don’t have to worry about income. It’s also a more flexible way for your users to pay for the service.

  • Ads

Playing ads can be another efficient way to earn money from your application. However, you should be extremely careful with this type of monetization. For example, placing an ad right in the middle of a meditation session would disrupt the mood and likely cause your users to abandon the app.

  • In-app purchases

You can introduce in-app purchases to your meditation app. These purchases can be things like premium meditations, relaxing tunes, and breathing exercises. You can also opt for additional personalization elements like themes or avatars.

Our expertise

Yellow has first-hand experience in meditation app development. About a year ago, we created Levitate, an iOS app for meditating with a variety of relaxing music tracks, calming videos, and natural sounds. It helps users recover from a busy day, improving their focus and sleep quality.

Levitate

Summing it up

The market of meditation apps and online services is immense and full of business opportunities. Despite some big players who are already well-established with a strong market share, your idea still has a good chance to succeed. With the right team and enough resources, you can build an ideal meditation app that will draw the attention of users. Here at Yellow, we are ready to help you reach your goal.

🍃 Why did meditation apps become more popular?

There are several reasons for rising interest in meditation apps. First of all, the situation with the pandemic and lockdowns was stressful for a lot of people, so they were looking for a way to relax. Also, self-awareness is on the rise overall, and meditation is a good way to get more familiar with yourself.

🍃 What are the top players in the meditation app market?

For now, the most popular meditation apps are Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, Aura, and Sattva.

🍃 What challenges could I face during the development of a meditation app?

You will need to find a way to achieve simplicity and speed in your app, define a suitable subscription price, and pay close attention to localization.

🍃 How much does the development of a meditation app cost?

Assuming an average rate of $50 per hour, the approximate cost for developing a meditation app is around $50,000—$70,000.

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