The 6 Best Meditation Apps for Android and iOS

Relaxation is good for the tech-worn soul

woman sitting on couch meditating
A meditation app can help ease stress.

 Westend61/Getty Images

Modern life is stressful, and technology is one of many culprits that contribute to many people's high levels of anxiety on a daily basis. Yet turning to your smartphone could actually help alleviate stress, especially when you have the right relaxation app.

These apps aim to help you relax and increase mindfulness by guiding you through a meditation practice.

The apps listed here are available for both Android and iPhone.

Note: Some of these apps do have optional add-ons, such as additional guided meditations, available for download for a cost. Some of them also have premium versions that unlock additional features, but the free downloads include the features mentioned in the write-ups below. Additionally, many of them offer communities where you can interact with other users who are interested in subjects such as mindfulness, stress reduction and meditation.

01
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Insight Timer: Best For Timing Specific Periods

Insight Timer

This completely free app has something for pretty much everyone interested in developing a meditation practice, from simple timers to more than 11,000 guided meditations, all of which are free like the app itself. That's probably why it's logged more than 1.8 million users and is one of the best-known meditation apps around.

What We Like

  • The ability to keep track of the time when you want to meditate for a specific period.
  • You can select from a variety of ambient sounds (or just choose silence) and can opt to hear interval bells. 

Plus, there's something satisfying about being gently brought back to reality by the sound of a gong at the end of your designated meditation session.  

What We Don't Like

  • There are so many meditations that it can be difficult to find one. A tough problem to have, we know.

Compatibility:

  • Android
  • iOS
02
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Calm: Best App For Long-Term Stress Management

Calm app

This app is all about decreasing your stress and anxiety levels, increasing your overall happiness and improving the quality of your sleep. To accomplish these goals, the app guides you through multi-day series.

These include 7 Days of Calm, which provides an introduction to mindfulness and meditation; 7 Days of Managing Stress, which introduces you to anxiety-reducing techniques; and 7 Days of Gratitude, which focuses on getting you to appreciate what you have in your life. 

What We Like

  • You can also use the Calm app for either guided or non-guided meditation that isn't part of any of these series or programs, but it's definitely worth exploring the various features when you download this app.
  • Calm stands out from other similar apps with its focus on improving sleep quality; check out the seven-day program dedicated to just that.

What We Don't Like

  • Free features are limited.
  • The cost to pony up for a subscription to access most of multi-day series options. 

Compatibility:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Web

Paid Features:

  • 7/21 Days Series
  • Guided walking, kids, anxiety, deep concentration, commuting, returning to now and non-judgment meditations
  • New Daily Calm every day
  • Additional sleep programs
  • Additional relaxation techniques
03
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Omvana: Best Musical Meditation

Mindvalley (Omvana)

The basic concept of Omvana is similar to that of the other apps mentioned here, improve your mindfulness through guided practice, but it offers a unique focus on music.

In addition to browsing and choosing from the app's own library of tracks and meditations with a variety of different focuses (including mindfulness, stress, relaxation, and sleep), you can use the mixer tool to choose the perfect vocal and the perfect background sounds to create a customized meditation experience. You can even save the ones you like for future use.

What We Like

  • The Omvana app also integrates with Apple's HealthKit to pull in data about your stress level (presumably from your heart rate) with the end goal of helping keep you calm.​
  • The app works with any web browser.

What We Don't Like

  • You can't take a look at anything prior to signing up. It's free, but it would be nice to at least explore it in some way before turning over your email.

Compatibility:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Web

Paid Features:

  • Additional tracks, including guided meditations and music, available for purchase in-app
04
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Aura: Best For Short Meditations

Aura app

The Aura app has one of the simplest concepts among the various options suggested here: Each day, you get a different three-minute meditation that's customized based on how you're feeling in the moment.

Aura also includes a mood tracker so you can see how you're feeling over time, and it offers daily reminders for completing short breathing exercises. You'll also find some of the more standard meditation app features like unguided meditations with nature sounds.

What We Like 

  • The app will ask you to select how you're feeling from a list of options: okay, anxious, sad, great or stressed. Even if you select the same emotion multiple days, the meditation you get will be different each time. 
  • The mood tracker.
  • The focus on fast.

What We Don't Like

  • We couldn't find anything!

Compatibility:

  • Android
  • iOS

Paid Features:

  • 24/7 meditations
  • 3- and 7-minute meditation options
  • Full mood-tracking for a lifetime
  • Save an unlimited number of meditations
05
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Sattva: Best For Those With Gaming Souls

Sattva App

Like the other apps in this article, Sattva is focused on mindfulness with a variety of guided meditations. However, the Sattva app also adds a bit of gamification to the meditation practice by using challenges and trophies to keep you motivated. 

What We Like

  • The standout features here are a mood tracker to help you notice patterns over time
  • The "insights engine" that attempts to show you how meditation is improving your life and a heart rate monitor that can measure your heart rate both before and after meditating (though this only works if you have an Apple Watch). 

What We Don't Like

  • Some of the best features are locked. Fork over the cash for them or stay stressed out.

Compatibility:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Web

Paid Features:

  • Additional meditation tracks available for purchase in-app
06
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Smiling Mind: Best Meditation App For Kids

Smiling Mind

This download from an Aussie non-profit is an especially good choice for the younger users out there, as it was created specifically with students in mind. The focus on education

Smiling Mind offers programs for a variety of age groups, including 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, 16-18 and adults.

What We Like

  • The app has an easy-to-use interface (and web options) for keeping track of your progress over time, both in terms of how many sessions you complete and how your emotions change.
  • Families can set up sub-accounts from one login as well.
  • It offers meditations for sports-related stress.

What We Don't Like

  • The modules are a tiny bit clunky. But that's our only nit-pick for this app. 

Compatibility: 

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Web