After four years of daily mindfulness meditation, my favorite meditation app stopped working. The developer had retired the app years earlier and finally iOS updates had killed its ability to function.
That app was effective because it was so simple: it consisted of a timer, a few simple statistics about the user’s meditation practice, and the ability to customize things like sit time, delay time, reminders, and notes.
Needing a new app to pair with my meditation practice, I set out to see what was on the market.
The vast majority of meditation apps today cost money. Either a subscription to use the app, a one-time fee to download it, or a pay-to-play model where you could only use the app in a certain way unless you are willing to pay to unlock other functionality.
As an independent app developer I understand the importance of making a profit to support an app. But as a meditation practitioner I believe mindfulness shouldn’t be something you have to pay for.
The more than 60,000 users who gave the simplistic meditation timer app five stars seemed to agree.
I believe the best form of mindfulness meditation is where you sit quietly with yourself and your own thoughts, that’s it.
Any existing apps which do not require you to pay to use were ugly, difficult to navigate and use, or used voice over or background sounds as their primary feature.
I needed an app that could be straight-forward and simple: a meditation timer I could carry with me not only to practice, but to monitor my daily practice and give myself daily reminders.
So I set out to create my own solution by mocking up explorations first on the iPad then in Sketch.
The concept for the app began with this concept of centering ones self.
I experimented with having a number of circles animate, fade out, expand, or contract. Landing on a metaphorical delay animation in which once a session begins, the rotating circles in the main screen pause their rotation and slowly move inward before the meditation actually begins. This animation creates a calming reflection of the real purpose of the meditation: to not push away everything around us, but to instead focus it inward.
I was able to test and validate some of my decisions for the interface by sharing concepts and early versions of the app with other meditators.
I would email screenshots or prototype videos to people I met on Twitter or in Facebook groups, or hand a device with the demo of the app to acquaintances in real life to get feedback.
After a few weeks of development the app was released in the App Store, then featured in meditation sites and journals, the meditation subreddit, and other places online.
Today Center proudly shines with a 4.7 star rating and an average of 5,000 meditation sessions each month.