Best 4 White Noise Apps for Android for Sleep, Meditation and Focus: Our 2024 Picks

Meditation and Focus

White noise is a wonderful companion for sleep, meditation, concentration and relaxation.

In our journey for serenity amidst a cacophony of thoughts and distractions, white noise apps emerge as an unexpected ally. These apps, leveraging blends of audible frequencies, are tools for meditation and calming. Particularly beneficial for sleep, white noise satisfies our sensory cravings and blocks disruptive noises. Studies even highlight its effectiveness in soothing babies, reminiscent of the womb’s tranquil environment.

Intrigued by the potential benefits of white noise, I decided to give it a try and see if it could save a constantly sleep-deprived soul like me. After scouring through the sea of white noise apps, I narrowed the candidates down to these four: Calm, Headspace, Insight Time and Sleep Sounds. Read on to follow my journey finding the best white noise apps for a boost of calmness on the Play Store!

1. Calm: Customized serenity with celebrity-narrated stories

Interface of Calm’s app

Upon downloading Calm, I was greeted with personalized questions that tailored a playlist to my liking. The app also includes some courses to combat anxiety and stress. The best part of Calm is that apart from a diverse array of white noise, it also offers relaxing stories for different needs like sleep, meditation or study. Moreover, it features a unique stopwatch function that plays nature sounds for an added layer of immersion during my meditation sessions.

However, it’s worth noting that Calm operates on a subscription basis, and you won’t get many free features except for a few white noises. 

Pros: 

  • Customizable settings: I appreciated being able to adjust the app’s background and playlist according to my mood—be it calm, sad, anxious or panicked. 
  • Celebrity narration: The app boasts an extensive collection of motivational podcasts and sleep stories, narrated by celebrities like Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes and Matthew McConaughey. There’s even a story narrated by the late James Stewart, brought to life through AI.
  • Kid-friendly options: Calm includes bedtime stories that are perfect for children, making it a safe choice for family use. 
  • Free journaling tool: This was a bonus, enhancing my overall mindfulness practice.

Cons: 

  • Limited free features. 
  • Not many options for non-vocal white noises. 

Pricing

  • Subscription tiers: The service costs US$69.99/year, offering a 14-day free trial. Monthly subscriptions are available at US$14.99, with a lifetime membership priced at US$399.99.
  • Prime Student discount: For those in the U.S. with an Amazon Prime Student account, the yearly subscription drops to US$8.99, including a generous three-month free trial.
  • Business plans: Calm also provides business subscriptions, catering to organizations looking to promote employee well-being 
  • Seasonal discounts: Regular subscribers can expect seasonal and festive discounts, adding value to the service.

2. Headspace: The social media sensation mediation app

Interface of Headspace’s app

After witnessing the buzz around Headspace on social media—with some crowning it as one of the best white noise apps on Android—I was intrigued to see if it lived up to the hype. Indeed, it did. Just like Calm, Headspace too welcomes users with a series of questions aimed at tailoring a personal meditation journey. It offers various sorts of meditation and relaxation courses with online guides that will help you through the process. 

I particularly liked the welcome meditation practice, which is a good way to give users a sneak peek into what the app has to offer. For someone like me who is not a big fan of surveys, it immediately offered me a direct taste of its calming potential. Another aspect I enjoyed was the mood-lifting, cartoony images the app uses. They made my experience on Headspace more cheerful and relaxing.

Pros: 

  • Diverse scenarios: The app offers a wide range of playlists for situations like SOS (e.g. panic attacks, burnt out, frustrated or in pain), focus resets and mindful parenting (e.g. boosting parenting confidence, handling emotions or motivation). 
  • Mindful eating guidance: This feature stands out for its support in overcoming eating disorders, offering a unique blend of mindfulness and nutrition. 
  • Bookmarking favorites: The ability to save and easily access my preferred sounds enhances my daily meditation practice.
  • Immersive 3D sounds: Real-life recorded scenarios (e.g. indoor fireplace, bridge water, canyon river or Delhi thunderstorms) bring a depth of realism to meditation, transporting me to calming environments.
  • Non-stop sleep radio: An 8-hour continuous sleep soundtrack ensures a restful night’s sleep, a feature I particularly appreciate. 

Cons:

  • Limited free features and mindfulness stories. 

Pricing: 

  • Subscription tiers: Headspace offers a yearly subscription at US$69.99, with a 14-day trial. Monthly options are available at US$12.99, including a 7-day trial.
  • Student discount: A special rate of US$9.99/year is available for students in select countries.
  • Family plan: A value-packed family subscription is available for US$99.99/year, accommodating up to six accounts.

3. Insight Timer: A free meditation wonderland 

Interface of Insight Timer’s app

Diving into Insight Timer after trying Calm and Headspace was a pleasant surprise, mainly because it offers a wealth of free content. With over 200,000 meditation tracks available at no cost, it stands out as a virtually free app. Unlike its counterparts, Insight Timer asks about your goals—meditation, yoga or de-stressing—right off the bat, adding a personal touch to the experience.

What makes me nudge Insight Timer onto my list of favorites is the assorted range of classical or folk instrument music it offers. You can choose to play the flute, Shakuhachi, Turkish Ney, Vocal Hum, Bar Chimes or Crystal Bowl music during your meditation sessions. Closing my eyes and listening, I could almost imagine myself in some hilly temple or monastery and surrounded by the Earth’s deepest greens. 

For those looking for more than just relaxation, Insight Timer offers a variety of journeys. From week-long challenges aimed at fostering positive thinking to expert talks on mindfulness in daily life, there’s a lot to explore. They even offer podcasts for a deeper understanding of mindfulness, adding another layer to the experience.

Pros: 

  • Extensive free features: Insight Timer offers a wealth of meditation content at no cost, making it stand out from other white noise apps.
  • Nature-inspired sleep playlist: Includes an 8-hour sleep playlist featuring the soothing sounds of nature (e.g. raindrops, leaves in the woodlands, rainforest streams, summer storms). 
  • Daily curated playlists: Tailors daily playlists based on your listening habits, ensuring a personalized meditation experience. 
  • Community-building features: You can partake in meditative activities with your friends and family together on the app. 
  • Timed music selection: Offers music specifically curated for varying meditation durations (e.g. 5, 10 or 30 minutes), simplifying the user experience. 
  • Expert-led events: Hosts live events on topics such as insomnia and mindfulness, providing valuable insights and tips. 
  • Bookmarking and journaling: Allows users to save favorite tracks and maintain a meditation journal, enhancing the personal growth journey. 

Cons: 

  • No fictional or non-fictional stories—a drawback if you seek a narrative-driven meditation experience.

Pricing:

  • Plus Membership: While the app’s free features are comprehensive, the Plus membership, available for US$60 annually, offers enhanced customization and access to an expanded range of courses.

4. Sleep Sounds: Simple, minimalist white noise app 

Interface of Sleep Sounds app

Unlike the other entries on this list, Sleep Sounds doesn’t beat around the bush. With no questions asked, you can start using the app straight away. As you open the app, you will see a wide range of sleep sounds, from nature sounds like the ocean, forest and rain to cityscape sounds like the café, air travel, train journey and much more. The best part—it’s a free-to-use app. 

What I love most about Sleep Sounds is that I can customize the sounds. For instance, if you pick “ocean” as your primary white noise, you can add extra sound effects like the screams of a seagull, the sound of the underwater or the rustling wind. Listening to my own curated white noise on this app helped me survive all my boring days and sent me to my happy place. 

Pros: 

  • Unlimited free music: A vast library of sounds without any charge.
  • Simplicity: The app’s minimalist interface is both visually pleasing and easy to navigate.
  • Visual cues: Instead of overwhelming text, the app uses images to guide your selection.
  • Bookmarking: Easily save and organize your favorite sounds for quick access.
  • Variety: Offers both brown and pink noise options, catering to different preferences.
  • Offline access: Download your chosen sounds for listening without an internet connection. 

Cons: 

  • Absence of personalized playlists. 
  • Lack of mood-specific music, podcasts or expert guides. 
  • The free version includes an ad banner at the bottom. 

Pricing

  • Subscriptions: With plans at US$3.49/year, US$0.99/month and lifetime access for US$14.99, the premium membership is comparatively accessible for most.
  • Premium benefits: Though not detailed, the premium version promises additional features and an ad-free experience.

The premium membership offers some extra features—though the app doesn’t specify what they are—and a no-ad experience.

Final thoughts 

As an avid lover of background music during work or leisure reading, I’ve found these white noise apps to be invaluable companions. They’ve become my quiet happy place in a world full of noise. Out of all the apps I tried, Headspace and Insight Timer have captured my heart for their easy-to-use design and great selection of sounds. 

If you are in pursuit of calm for meditation, a soothing backdrop for sleep or simply a slice of peace, these apps could be a great starting point. I hope this white noise app review helps you find the right app for you. Happy exploring on your quest for tranquility! 

Also read: 

Header Image Courtesy of Freepik

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