This review originally appeared within iLounge’s iOS Gems series within the compilation article, iPhone Gems: Sixteen Zen, Relaxation, and Meditation Apps. Additional details may be found in the original article.
Finally, Zazen ($1) by Innobytes offers a unique alternative interface for meditation timing, but manages to be more confusing than innovative. The first screen is a picture of a rippling pond with a note to tap the screen for instructions—if you don’t, you’ll never understand how to use the software.
This screen tells you, without full explanation, that you should go to the settings screen and adjust the size of two stones to change the length of the meditation from 10 minutes to 45 minutes, and the presence of a gong sound from every 5 or 10 minutes to off. You then click on the Zazen screen button, tap a candle in front of a statue to start, and hear a gong after a set one-minute preparation time. No timer, save for your iPod or iPhone’s top-of-screen clock, is displayed.
While the idea of meditating to the image of a statue and a flickering candle is actually quite a good one, and the idea of integrating zen objects such as rocks into the interface is similarly cool, Innobytes has basically done everything wrong in terms of making the application work in ways that users could understand.
Resizing rocks to change the duration of the meditation is bad enough, but the lengths of the session and interval are then represented with odd dials rather than numbers, plus white dots for “tolerance,” and you’ll need to go back and forth from the instructions to the settings just to figure out what’s going on. Then, as the session proceeds, you have no idea how far along you are, which might be fine for some users, but probably not for others. Functionally, it’s just a mess.