Rohan Gunatillake and the team at Mindfulness Everywhere are a creative studio combining meditation, technology & design. Over the years they’ve used various mediums like playing cards and books to reach audiences with great mindfulness products and their most notable output has been the excellent buddhify app on iOS and Android.
The buddhify app is hugely popular but Rohan noticed that buddihfy and other meditation apps were almost entirely English content only. Great for those of us in English speaking countries, but that’s excluding something crazy like 75% of the worlds population who don’t speak English. So, Rohan decided to broaden the reach of mindfulness apps by creating a multilingual experience with Meditation Now.
Mindfulness Everywhere's approach is a brilliant example of punching above your weight. This small, self-funded studio in Glasgow compete on a global level with large venture-backed teams. Their secret? Teamwork. They partner with other brilliant companies like LevelUp, Jamhot and Add Jam to create their products.
With Meditation Now, our first hurdle was the limitations that come alongside the platforms we wanted to target. iOS and Android, the leading mobile platforms, each have their own approach to internationalising content in both the app itself and the distribution channels.
Originally, we thought we could detect what country the user was located in through their location services or the location of the app store used. But should this really be used to choose their location? Just because someone is in Italy, it doesn't mean they're an Italian speaker. We considered using the device locale to trigger the language used, but in the end we settled on the simplest solution - letting the user choose.
As a team, we decided that the best way to navigate this issue was to prompt the user to choose their own language. Rohan designed a clean interface where each locale is represented using a flag alongside the word "hello" in each of the available languages.
Meditation Now is clean, elegant and scaleable, with the Mindfulness Everywhere team being able to add new languages down the line. After selecting your language, all of the content within the app is downloaded in the chosen language including audio, text and images.
Going i18n… (or Internationalizing to us)
The key to working across multiple languages is using a standard called i18n. This provides a dictionary file with key phrases for each language used throughout the app. So, for example, the simple ‘Hello’ message shown on the onboarding screen needs to have a hello label in English, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, European Spanish and Latin American Spanish.
We needed some language content bundled within the app, which meant that on the first load the user didn't have to fetch content from a server or choose a locale. The main vision for Meditation Now, however, was to create a custom admin area that the Mindfulness Everywhere team could use to easily update the app content across the available locales. We created an admin area that allowed the team at Mindfulness Everywhere to make changes with ease, giving them the ability to add, edit or delete the main app content when necessary.
Cross platform development made simple
We created Meditation Now using React Native, an open source mobile development framework backed by Facebook. React Native allows us to develop the app on iOS and Android using a single codebase, meaning we could avoid duplicating the effort of writing the app for each platform.
This saved crucial time, both for us and the client, that could be used to focus on creating the best experience for the user. The flexibility of React Native allowed us to develop the Meditation Now app for multiple languages on both iOS and Android in under 3 months.
Cross platform solutions have existed for years, but the main benefit React Native provides is the flexibility to dig down into native code if required. This allowed us to tweak the code for iOS and Android individually if needed, ensuring we could create an app that would work brilliantly alongside each platform's unique features.
Getting it out there
Meditation Now is available on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store in Italy, Germany, throughout Latin America and Spain with all the content available for a one time payment with no ongoing subscription. Meditation Now is a product that only a team like Mindfulness Everywhere could deliver. They’re small, willing to take risks, punch above their weight and aren’t driven by scale and volume — they really just want to make the best mindfulness experiences possible for people around the world.