App Review: MindBell – Mindfulness Bell & Meditation Timer

MindBell for Android is unique. It provides periodic ringing of a mindfulness bell from your smartphone, and makes for a handy meditation timer too.

Update: in 2021, the developer of MindBell stopped working on it, withdrew it from the Google Play Store and now offers no support. Since it is open source, the source code remains available and it could be relaunched by another developer in future. If you wish to install the app, it is still possible by manually installing the latest .apk file from GitHub, however it is unsupported by a developer so may no longer work reliably on many devices.

A key part of living mindfully is meditation practice, and if you are reading there is a good chance I do not need to explain it. But just-in-case: a typical silent meditation will involve sitting with eyes closed (or looking at the floor with soft focus) then focusing on the breath for the duration of the meditation. There are many other ways to meditate, but this is the perhaps the most basic and essential technique on which most more involved meditation techniques are based.

Why we need a meditation timer

In order to fit a daily meditation into a busy life it is helpful to set a defined period of time – this should typically be short for beginners (2 minutes) and can be much longer for experienced meditators with enough time to spare. You don’t want to keep looking at a clock, so will need a timer. Every smartphone comes with a timer function, but we can do better. We can have bells!

Meditation and bells go together better than pizza and cheese. Better, because although I know plenty of vegans who have their pizza without cheese, I have never knowingly encountered anyone with a moral objections to bells. On a meditation retreat you have bells to mark the beginning of a meditation, bells to mark the end, and often bells in the middle too. You might hear various other bells throughout the day, to mark dinner time or an activity, or because some megalomaniacal monk decides to bring the community to a halt for a few seconds. In that moment, when the bell is ringing, it doesn’t matter who rung it or why. The ringing of the bell is an invitation to stop whatever you are doing an just be. A reminder that the present moment is where it’s at, the most happenin’ place, and you’re right there right now.

So for many meditators the bell is more than a practical marker of time, and more than a nice atmospheric touch. It is a reminder of mindfulness (the word itself has a connotation of “remembering” in the Sanskrit language). An experienced meditator’s response to a ringing bell has been trained through practice to instantly change their state of mind. A bell isn’t just nicer than a beeping phone, it has millennia of meaning associated with it.

MindBell Features

MindBell (for Android only) brings this meaning out of the monastery and into daily life. It has two functions: timed meditations (marked with bells), and regular bells throughout the day. You can use either or both. It does not offer any guided meditations – if that’s what you are looking for, check out meditation apps like Ten Percent Happier or Headspace.

On the timer front, it has all the basic options. I can set any number of bells at the beginning and end, and more at regular intervals throughout the meditation should I wish. There is only one bell sound available, but it’s a reasonably good one. The only criticism I have is that it lacks any of the spontaneity of a real bell. With a real bell, every ring is slightly different. With MindBell every ring is the same, and once you’ve heard it a few times there is a temptation to turn off and think of something rather than really listen to the sound – because you’ve heard it so many times before. But it’s still better than a beep.

The regular mindfulness bells I find less useful, even though this seems to be the main reason the app was developed. I tried this function for a few days, and although the idea is sound (no pun intended), I kept forgetting to turn it off when I left the house and eventually gave up. Perhaps if it could be set to ring only when my home Wi-Fi network is in range, this would make it more usable. Even then, I might want it only in a specific room of the house. There are many options to customize the behaviour, for example changing the regularity of the bells or setting it to only ring during the day time, but the options don’t go far enough for me to create an environment where I automatically get mindfulness bells at precisely the times and places that I want them. Perhaps I don’t need an app for this after all, but a grandfather clock.

Alternatives to MindBell

MindBell is no longer available in the Google Play Store for Android, and was never available on iOS (iPhone / iPad). Apple users will need an alternative. Android users may also like to explore alternatives (see our directory of the best meditation apps).

The free Plum Village app also has a Bell of Mindfulness feature and a meditation timer, plus guided meditations and talks, and is available on both Android and iOS.

Another notable option is Insight Timer, which provides similar meditation timer features to MindBell, also for free. However, Insight Timer also offers a number of other features including guided meditations, community features, and premium paid content. I tend to prefer the minimalist approach of MindBell, but I also use Insight Timer, particularly on Apple devices.


This is an app I use regularly, for the straightforward meditation timer. In particular, I appreciate that I was not required to sign up and give away data on my usage just to meditate, like some other apps. It’s also open source, which is great. MindBell is a good app that will remain part of my meditation habit. Unfortunately it’s only available on Android, but you can check out our list of the top meditation apps to find alternatives available for iOS.

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About the author Justin Emery

Founder and editor of A software developer by profession, Justin's education and experience in technology may inform his writing, but he writes as an everyday user of technology, just like you.

3 thoughts on “App Review: MindBell – Mindfulness Bell & Meditation Timer

  1. I think the sound is wonderful and I really enjoy hearing it at irregular intervals during the day. It has helped me to ground myself many times a day instead of just before bed. If I could change one thing about Mindbell I would give users the option for deciding how many times the bell will sound, it seems to be set up for random numbers of tones per reminder. And I wasn’t able to figure out a way to make it sound only once. I would set it at one ring. I don’t need more and I have regularly forgotten to silence my phone at meetings or restaurants. In this situation one tone wouldn’t be an issue but it has chimed over and over again whilst I’m scrambling to turn my phone off. So, since I can’t set up the number of tones to only one, I have sadly uninstalled the app. Will you add an option to set the number of tones? Thank you.

    1. Hi Kelli, thank you for you comment. On this site we’re reviewing meditation apps but we are not the developers of the app. However, do I know that MindBell is not currently being actively developed. You might instead like to try Plum Village app which also has a Bell of Mindfulness feature.

  2. MindBell has been my favorite meditation and daily reminder for several years. Simple, free, perfect. I just bought a new Android.. and it does NOT function correctly. I am VERY disappointed. No other app comes close to it’s quality of sound and simplicity. MindBell has been unsupported for quite a while, and I have gone through various hoops to get it back on several phones, and, in the interim tried many other apps, and none come close to satisfying. This time I seem to be stymied (Samsung 23Ultra). Big sigh!!!!!

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