“mindfulness meditation on the go”
There are a wide range of meditation apps available, and we’ve already reviewed some of the most popular including Headspace, Insight Timer, and Ten Percent. How does Buddhify differ? It’s hard to pinpoint a single defining difference, but there are so many little things that are different about about Buddhify that together make it an incredibly unique app.
One difference is that Buddhify is made by a family business – a husband and wife team, Rohan and Lucy Gunatillake. They say this allows them to be “led by our values” to a greater extent than investment-backed startups. It also probably allows them to offer better value to users because they don’t require such a large return on investment.
How much does Buddhify cost?
The first thing you may notice when looking to install Buddhify is that you’ll need to pay for it up-front. This is rare in the world of meditation apps, which are usually free to install. Typically with other apps, you’ll be able to access a very limited selection of guided meditations, but you’ll need to pay a pricey monthly or annual subscription to access everything.
With Buddhify, you pay up-front, but you get a substantial number of guided meditations included. The up-front cost of Buddhify is less than the monthly subscription for many other apps, so it’s very affordable.
Buddhify costs $2.99 / £2.99 on the Google Play Store for Android and $4.99 / £4.99 on the iOS App Store. Perhaps it’s cheeky to charge more on iPhone, but at least they are open about it and list prices on their website.
One of the downsides of the up-front payment is that if you want to use Buddhify on both platforms (say, an Android phone and an Apple iPad) you will need to buy it twice.
Buddhify also offers a subscription membership for $30 / £24 per year – cheaper than many other commercial apps. We’ll cover this later in the review, but it is certainly not essential to purchase membership to enjoy the app.
The Buddhify Wheel
The most striking thing about Buddhify is the wheel user interface. This wheel is split into colourful segments, each of which represents a category of guided meditations. By clicking on a segment, it expands so that the wheel becomes filled with the meditations from that category.
The default wheel is not the only option. There are a number of alternative themed wheels which you can switch to: Kids, Tough Times, Sleep Issues, Working Hard, Social Animal, Mindful Ninja, All New, and Classic. Each of these wheel features a different selection of meditations, although many of them feature on multiple wheels.
You can also create a personal wheel by editing one of the built in wheels. For example, if you’re not interested in meditations for going to sleep, you can remove those, and add some other category, such as “Using your phone”.
If you have a membership subscription, you’ll also get access to the Formal wheel, which features more formal meditations with less guidance, and which allow you to build up to a longer length.
The guided meditations in Buddhify feature a number of different narrators. Most but not all of these vocalists all are British, since the Buddhify team is based in Glasgow, Scotland.
Does Buddhify work offline?
Yes! This is one of the biggest advantages of using Buddhify vs most other guided meditation apps. All guided meditations on the default wheel are available to use offline. When switching to an alternative wheel, there is an option to download that entire wheel, or download the individual sections.
Many of the guided meditations are designed to be used on the go: whilst travelling, or whenever you need to take some time out whilst on the move. With this focus, offline functionality is essential and Buddhify provides that.
There are some downsides to this approach. The app download size is extremely large and takes some time to download and install. When the content is updated, the updates take a long time, and whilst you can skip updates, it’s frustrating to have this long wait. It would be good to see background download functionality so that content can be updated whilst listening to a meditation.
The Buddhify app also does not feel totally robust. Sometimes the lengthy content updates failed part way through, and occasionally I’ve experience bugs or unexpected error messages whilst using various features of the app. However, nothing was a show stopper: my overall experience was satisfactory. Hopefully any remaining bugs will eventually be ironed out in time.
Other than the guided meditation wheel, Buddhify offers a few additional features.
With Give, you can send a meditation to a friend. You will answer a couple of questions, then select one of the suggested meditations. You can then send a link to the guided meditation via a messaging app or email. I’m on the fence about whether this is really a useful feature or just a promotional strategy for the Buddhify app.
The Solo Timer provides a simple timer for unguided meditation. This is actually one of the best meditation timers I have used due to it’s simplicity. You can pick a length, and you can enable interval sounds if you wish. I find the timer just as effective as other apps like Insight Timer and MindBell which have more complex configuration.
You can use Favourites to keep a list of your favourite meditations in the app. This is handy to avoid having to navigate the wheel for your commonly used guided meditations.
The Buddhify membership adds a few extra features. The value provided by membership is clearly not as great as the basic app. The additional features are fewer than in the basic app, but the subscription price is more. That’s perhaps why it’s positioned by the Buddhify team as a way to “Support our work”.
The first additional feature is the Formal wheel. If you like a little less guidance, and more focus on traditional meditation techniques such as breathe or body awareness, then you’ll appreciate these guided meditations.
Transmission is a unique and fun feature. It provides a karaoke-style guided meditation. It helps you with a guided group meditation, allowing you to read out one of the guided meditations using your own voice to friends or family members. If you’re new to leading a group meditation, this could be a nice way to start. Personally, I find vocalising guidance during a meditation really helps me stay on track as well as others.
The karaoke-style interface is effective – it allows pausing and going back if you struggle to keep up. It also provides some supportive words for the reader during the silent sections of the meditation. The Transmission feature could be improved if it the app made it possible to record the reading and send the recording to a friend. This would be especially handy during the current Coronavirus pandemic where many people are restricted from meeting in person.
Overall, Buddhify Membership is take it or leave it. Those who are a little better off may like to purchase a subscription and support future development, but those on a budget won’t be missing much.
Buddhify might not be the best app to use if you’re trying to build a meditation habit. Other apps like Headspace and Ten Percent Happier provide content arranged in courses, where there’s a sense of progression. By contrast, Buddhify provides a nice collection of individual themed meditations that can be used offline.
Buddhify is certainly an app that I’ll keep around. When I’m offline, and I want a guided meditation, I know that Buddhify will there for me. The solo timer is also a neat feature I will continue to use.