Are meditation apps the next to be Sherlocked?
Apple's watchOS 8 isn't out yet, but when it arrives later this year there's a good chance it'll come with new guided meditation options as part of Fitness+ if Apple's own leak is to be believed. So will apps like Calm and Headspace be the next that get Sherlocked?
'Sherlocked' is effectively a term given to an app that has been replaced by functionality natively added to an Apple device. There's a whole story behind it, but that isn't important right now. All you need to know is that a Sherlocked app tends to suffer because Apple made it either obsolete, or much less useful for whatever reason.
Adding guided meditation, or as Apple seems to be calling it, Audio Meditations, to Fitness+ makes plenty of sense. It already has guided workouts and guided walks, after all. Having someone whisper in your ear while you carry out your daily meditation is arguably the next logical step here.
If a Sherlocking is going to happen, the likes of Calm and Headspace are those most likely to suffer. According to AppAnnie numbers, Calm is the second highest-grossing app in its category, while Headspace is fifth. And that category isn't just meditation apps – it's the entire Health and Fitness category. That includes Weight Watchers, Strava, Peloton, and more. It's a difficult category to come out on top in.
With two of the top five highest-grossing fitness apps being of the guided meditation variety, using it as a way to get people into Fitness+ is something else that makes sense. At $9.99 per month, Fitness+ is likely the same price, or cheaper, as dedicated apps. Will it offer the same level of features? We don't know yet, but Headspace and Calm don't offer guided workouts or guided walks, so "you pays your money and you takes your choice," as someone somewhere once said. Will the prospect of Apple Fitness+ guided meditations be enough to have people scrambling to find the best Apple Watch deals for the best Apple Watch? Maybe, maybe not.
We don't know when any of this will happen, of course. Apple removed mention of Audio Meditations from its Platforms state of the Union video earlier today, clearly not ready for it to be the talk of the town. Whether it'll make an appearance in a later watchOS 8 beta, we'll just have to wait and see.
We surely won't be the only ones watching along. Some will be holding their breath, too.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.
People seem to forget (or are not aware of) the fact that you don't need iOS or Android even to use Headspace and Calm. They both have websites that can be accessed from any browser. I signed up for Headspace through their website, not app, so I don't personally care if Apple sherlocks it or not as it will not affect me much. However, both Calm and Headspace are powerhouses. f.lux was only a tool. A useful one, but one that also seemed like its days were numbered. Never had Watson but I do remember Sherlock and how useful it was to search for things on the Internet like movie times from it. I seriously doubt that whatever Apple cooks up as its own native meditation app will be able to fully compete with either Headspace or Calm head-on but will likely get the section of that market who only uses either app for the guided meditations and nothing else.