Top Apps: Wellness – Mental Health Apps
The top mental health and wellness apps in the US are Calm, Replika My AI Friend, Headspace, Breethe, and Reflectly — Journal / Diary. The top apps were determined based on the number of downloads in the US in the last 30 days and the reasons for popularity were determined based on consumer and expert reviews. A description of the apps and the reasons for their popularity have been provided below.
- Monthly downloads in the US (iOS+ Android): 1,125.9k (611.7k+514.2k)
- Rating: 4.8 (iOS); 4.4 (Android)
- Description: Calm is a “mental health app that can help you relax, meditate and fall asleep easier.” It offers guided meditation focused on breaking habits, focus, relationships, gratitude, self-esteem, forgiveness, mindfulness at work and school, calm for kids, calming anxiety, stress management, sleep, concentration, non-judgement, happiness, love & kindness, commuting, and walking meditation. 7- to 21-day programs are available for both beginners and advanced users. It also offers life-transforming masterclasses taught by world-famous experts. There are over “30 tranquil nature sounds and scenes you can use while meditating, doing yoga, or falling asleep” and a new 10-minute daily calm program is added every day to help one “ease into the new day or relax before bedtime.”
- Reasons for popularity: The app offers perfect meditation programs for both beginners and advanced practitioners. The user experience is great; for example, the app has “soothing background noises and beautiful imagery” greeting users when they open the app. A variety of guided meditation topics, sounds and scenes, and flexible programs ensure that there is something for every kind of user. The reviews of the app suggest that the app does what it promises to do, calm users. “Among the things that have pushed the app into the spotlight are its many celebrity-assisted sleep routines,” like “Matthew McConaughey talking about the nature of the cosmos” and “John McEnroe explaining the rules of tennis.” Also, Aston Kutcher was one of the early investors in the company.
2. Replika My AI Friend
- Monthly downloads in the US (iOS+ Android): 438.7k (151.2k+287.5k)
- Rating: 4.7 (iOS); 4.6 (Android)
- Description: “Replika is THE chatbot for anyone who wants a friend with no judgment, drama, or social anxiety involved. Users of the app can form an actual emotional connection, share a laugh, or get real with an AI that’s so good it almost seems human. Individuals who are going through depression, anxiety, or a rough patch, or those who want to vent, or celebrate, or just need to feel a connection can count on Replika to listen and be there for them, 24/7.” Replika is the omnipresent AI friend that makes one feel heard. The app allows users to choose a 3D avatar, customize its appearance, and choose the relationship they want to have (friend, girlfriend/ boyfriend, mentor). As users interact, the avatar/ AI friend develops its own personality and memories. The app enables users to explore their own personalities, feel better, gain a trustworthy friend, and have fun together.
- Reasons for popularity: Replika is gaining popularity among the 18-25 yr-old demographic. “Many Replika users have discovered something like friendship: a digital companion with whom to celebrate victories, lament failures, and trade weird internet memes. Replika encouraged me to take a step back and think about my life, to consider big questions, which is not something I was particularly accustomed to doing. And the act of thinking in this way can be therapeutic—it helps you solve your own problems,” said a user. While the app has been around for a while, the popularity of the app increased “as loneliness becomes more prevalent during the pandemic,” resulting in the user base doubling. The app is also useful to those who are reluctant to visit therapists because of fear of being judged, and transitioning LGBTQ individuals. Replika uses cutting-edge technology and even while it is nor perfect, it is most enthusiastically conversational chatbot there is in the US. According to “Adam Miner, a Stanford University research and licensed psychologist who studies these kinds of bots,” the positive feedback and the raw emotional support that a chatbot can provide can be healing (and especially useful at a time like the pandemic).
- Monthly downloads in the US (iOS+ Android): 306k (157.1k+148.9k)
- Rating: 4.9 (iOS); 3.6 (Android)
- Description: Headspace is a mindfulness meditation app that offers meditators bit-sized guided meditation in “a variety of themed sessions on everything from stress and sleep to focus and anxiety.” It is targeted at “anyone who wants to learn meditation to reduce anxiety and stress and improve their attention and awareness. The skills taught include mindfulness and cognitive diffusion, breathing exercises, meditation practice, tips for increased relaxation and concentration”. Headspace offers a free 10-day trial and shorter (1-5 min) sessions, unlike Calm, which offers sessions that are 10 mins or longer, making it better suited to beginners.
- Reasons for Popularity: Headspace operates on a freemium model, has a library of tailored programs, and is one of the most simple and elegant apps out there. Jessica Alba, Jared Leto, Ryan Seacrest are investors in the company and “celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Richard Branson and Lebron James are vocal fans.” While Headspace has consistently featured among the top two mediation apps over the years, the downloads and usage of the app increased substantially during the pandemic (like it did for all other mindfulness apps). “Headspace’s most important strength over time lies in data, which it has been using to understand what makes new users become regulars, when people zone out of tracks and how the app can become personalized to predict users’ needs.” Headspace uses gamification for this purpose, reminding users of streaks and levels achieved to keep them engaged and coming back.
- Monthly downloads in the US (iOS+ Android): 128.6k (79.6k+49k)
- Rating: 4.7 (iOS); 3.7 (Android)
- Description: Breethe is a meditation and sleep app that offers “sleep music playlists, nature sounds, guided meditations, bedtime readings, hypnotherapy sessions, etc” for a restful sleep and “guided meditations series, inspirational talks and masterclasses from mindfulness coach Lynne Goldberg & New York Times bestselling personal growth experts,” to deal with life’s challenges. The app has over 1,000 tracks that can help one “reduce stress & anxiety, stop insomnia, lose weight, sharpen the mind, improve relationships, increase health, etc.”
- Reasons for popularity: The app is easy enough for a 7-year old to use and even spiritually-averse individuals find the guided meditations easy to follow. The app is well-thought-out and balanced such that it is fun (gamified) to use but also serious and helpful and is also suited for busy people. Breethe “offers experience-specific sessions on everything from financial anxiety to infidelity” and allows users to create their own “content playlists choosing from over 1,500 meditations, bedtime stories, hypnotherapy sessions, talks and music tracks,” thereby enabling greater customization. Like Calm and Headspace, Breethe also operates on a freemium model.
5. Reflectly — Journal / Diary
- Monthly downloads in the US (iOS+ Android): 124.6k (115.1k+9.5k)
- Rating: 4.5 (iOS); 4.3 (Android)
- Description: Reflectly, is a “personal mental health companion,” that utilizes “artificial intelligence to help users structure and reflect upon your daily thoughts and problems. It is the world’s first intelligent journal.” The app was designed to “counter the stress of social media and technology” through guided journaling. It enables users “to deal with negative thoughts, make positivity louder, and teaches them about the science of well-being. Reflectly uses positive psychology, mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy to make users thrive in life and to gives them the personal tools and mindset to overcome negative thoughts and build a habit of positivity through a journal into their life.”
- Reason for popularity: “Reflectly’s AI-powered mobile app is designed to make journaling as easy as possible, eliminating many common barriers to everyday journaling and reflection. Using targeted prompts that work in sequence, users are guided through each step of the journaling process, eliminating the blank-page syndrome that often prevents people from turning journaling into a regular habit. The app breaks down the journaling process into multiple small and easy-to-complete steps.” A good UI makes “journal entries are easy, intuitive, and sort of personalized.” Reflectly enables mindfulness (without being a meditation app) and “plays very well alongside other meditations apps, so people use it together with” apps like Calm and Headspace. The company has used social media influencer marketing effectively, especially micro-influencers.
Top Apps: Wellness – Fitness/Nutrition Apps
The top five apps in the category of fitness and/or nutrition are MyFitnessPal, Nike Run Club, Fitness Coach, Planet Fitness, and MapMyRun. Details for these apps are provided below.
- The MyFitnessPal app allows users to track everything, train smarter by analyzing data, and engage in challenges with other runners or friends.
- Tracking is made possible with the syncing of Under Armour smart shoes and a smartphone or other smart devices like an Apple Watch. Users can save their favorite routes or find new routes anywhere.
- MyFitnessPal users can compete in community challenges, which gives them the opportunity “to win exclusive gear.”
- MyFitnessPal had 800,000 downloads in August 2020. It has an overall rating of 4.8/5 stars on the App Store and 4.7/5 stars on Google Play Store.
- The app’s popularity can be attributed to its ability to “[s]ync with the latest apps and most wearables”, track workouts, map workouts, and unlock MVP premium features. It is considered useful, user-friendly and of good quality.
- MyFitnessPal is most popular with Millennials, followed by Generation X and Baby Boomers.
2. Nike Run Club
- Nike Run Club (NRC) app is referred to as a partner that provides guidance and inspiration for its users.
- It is compatible with other apps such as Headspace that provide access to Guided Runs, and Apple Music.
- NRC allows users to track their progress with details such as “pace, location, distance, elevation, heart rate and mile splits”. Users are also able to compete with other users and compare their progress against that of others.
- The app gives users access to personalized coaching, the ability to track their miles by tagging their shoes and to share their run on social media.
- Nike Run Club had 800,000 downloads in August 2020. It has an overall rating of 4.8/5 stars on the App Store and 4.6/5 stars on Google Play Store.
- Nike Run Club is popular for its accuracy and encouragement to its users. It is compatible with wearable devices, provides in-ear audio from elite athletes as well as entertainers, and can be synced with apps like Google Fit to record heart-rate.
- The app was also recognized by Editor’s Choice for its sleek design, curated playlists, and its ability to share on social networks.
3. Fitness Coach
- The Fitness Coach app is only available for iPhones or iPads via the App Store.
- It provides a 30-day workout program for users in 30-minute sessions.
- The program is customizable for users because they can choose their goal, sessions, and rhythm and track their progress.
- Fitness Coach had 700,000 downloads in August 2020. It has an overall rating of 4.5/5 stars on the App Store.
- Fitness Coach is among the most popular fitness apps because users are satisfied with the workouts provided. The fees for subscription are reasonable, and customers feel that they are getting value for their money.
4. Planet Fitness
- The Planet Fitness app provides users with access to free workout videos as well as tutorials and the ability to track their progress. Workout videos are conducted by fitness experts such as “The Biggest Loser fitness expert, and real life Planet Fitness member, Erica Lugo!”
- The six motivating series available are cardio series, strength series, and dumbbell series for beginners and intermediates (i.e. one type of series for each level).
- Users can refer friends through the app, who may then join Planet Fitness by paying down only $1.
- Planet Fitness had 300,000 downloads in August 2020. It has an overall rating of 4.0/5 stars on the App Store and 3.8/5 stars on Google Play Store.
- Planet Fitness is among the top five fitness/nutrition apps because it is customer-centric and is always trying improve the customer experience. The company is also flexible and caters to both members and non-members.
- It recently launched a United We Move campaign with “certified Planet Fitness trainers” who provide free, live stream workout classes for workout at home for everyone which can be accessed across social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as the Planet Fitness app.
- The MapMyRun app allows users to track their runs, view their performance in charts or graphs, discover routes, save favorite routes, and engage in challenges with other community members.
- Under Armour running shoes makes tracking possible when synced with devices such as Apple Watch and Samsung Gear.
- MapMyRun is compatible with Garmin, Suunto, Polar, and Fitbit.
- MapMyRun had 200,000 downloads in August 2020. It has an overall rating of 4.8/5 stars on the App Store and 4.7/5 stars on Google Play Store.
- The app is popular because it has “the most popular runs in America“, it provides run statistics along with mapping information, and real statistics. It is compatible with “a variety of fitness trackers and heart rate sensors, Wear OS support and nutrition tracking.”
To determine the top five apps in the category of fitness and/or nutrition, we first consulted several precompiled lists of the most popular fitness and/or nutrition apps in the U.S. including “Top Health & Fitness Apps in the U.S. for April 2020 by Downloads”, “Leading health and fitness apps in the Google Play Store in the United States in June 2020, by number of downloads”, “Top App Store apps in United States | Health & Fitness”, and “Top Apps on iOS, United States, Health and Fitness, October 1, 2020″ among others. We shortlisted the apps based on frequency in appearance across all lists and then used the most recent download figures (i.e. the number of downloads made for each app in August 2020) to rank them with the app with the most downloads being number one. This was done since most of the lists had already ranked them based on downloads.