Review and evaluation of mindfulness-based iPhone apps

Mani, Madhavan, Kavanagh, David J., Hides, Leanne, & Stoyanov, Stoyan R. (2015) Review and evaluation of mindfulness-based iPhone apps. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 3(3), e82.

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There is growing evidence for the positive impact of mindfulness on wellbeing. Mindfulness-based mobile apps may have potential as an alternative delivery medium for training. While there are hundreds of such apps, there is little information on their quality.


This study aimed to conduct a systematic review of mindfulness-based iPhone mobile apps and to evaluate their quality using a recently-developed expert rating scale, the Mobile Application Rating Scale (MARS). It also aimed to describe features of selected high-quality mindfulness apps.


A search for “mindfulness” was conducted in iTunes and Google Apps Marketplace. Apps that provided mindfulness training and education were included. Those containing only reminders, timers or guided meditation tracks were excluded. An expert rater reviewed and rated app quality using the MARS engagement, functionality, visual aesthetics, information quality and subjective quality subscales. A second rater provided MARS ratings on 30% of the apps for inter-rater reliability purposes.


The “mindfulness” search identified 700 apps. However, 94 were duplicates, 6 were not accessible and 40 were not in English. Of the remaining 560, 23 apps met inclusion criteria and were reviewed. The median MARS score was 3.2 (out of 5.0), which exceeded the minimum acceptable score (3.0). The Headspace app had the highest average score (4.0), followed by Smiling Mind (3.7), iMindfulness (3.5) and Mindfulness Daily (3.5). There was a high level of inter-rater reliability between the two MARS raters.


Though many apps claim to be mindfulness-related, most were guided meditation apps, timers, or reminders. Very few had high ratings on the MARS subscales of visual aesthetics, engagement, functionality or information quality. Little evidence is available on the efficacy of the apps in developing mindfulness.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 88052
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: mindfulness, mobile apps, mhealth, mindfulness-based mobile apps
DOI: 10.2196/mhealth.4328
ISSN: 2291-5222
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > TECHNOLOGY (100000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Madhavan Mani, David J Kavanagh, Leanne Hides, Stoyan R Stoyanov.
Copyright Statement: Originally published in JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth
(, 19.08.2015. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mhealth and uhealth, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic
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Deposited On: 07 Oct 2015 22:27
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2015 21:14

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