Headspace is a non-intimidating, user-friendly mindfulness and meditation app that earned 4.5 out of 5 stars overall from our independent review. The Headspace app is easy to navigate and the structure of its courses helps new users build confidence as they learn meditation exercises and mindfulness techniques. As you develop your practice, you’ll also enjoy more advanced features, including pro-level courses. Headspace costs $12.99 per month or $69.99 annually and includes a free trial.
Rating of the Headspace Meditation App
Over the past year, I have dedicated a considerable amount of time to researching, personally using, and reviewing meditation apps. Not only do I use these apps for at least two weeks before writing a detailed review, I also reach out to the individual companies to ask numerous questions about their products that users are likely to want answers to. All of this is done to ensure that consumers get the information they need to make intelligent purchases. I have been using meditation apps as a staple in my life since 2015, and Headspace continues to be one of my top recommendations to those brand new to meditating. During our independent review, Headspace earned 4.5 out of 5 stars overall due in part to the size of its meditation library, how it teaches mindfulness skills, and the extra features offered. However, the app design can be slightly confusing to navigate, making it difficult to find what you are looking for.
Pros & Cons of Headspace App
If you’re new to meditation, Headspace is well worth the cost. The app presents mindfulness and meditation courses to beginners in a comfortable, easy-to-use format, gradually introducing new techniques. While Headspace has advanced courses, none of the meditations are over 30 minutes. Experienced practitioners may be better off with other meditation apps. Unfortunately, Headspace doesn’t offer any free content, but a free trial is offered with a subscription.
What Is Headspace?
Headspace is an easy-to-navigate mindfulness and meditation app that teaches fundamental breathwork techniques and meditation exercises through progressive courses. While Headspace is especially helpful for those just starting out with their meditation practice, they have courses for both beginners and more advanced practitioners, which is why it earned 5 out of 5 stars in our “Variety of Meditations” category of our meditation apps scoring criteria. It also offers mindfulness practices that you can utilize while you’re at work or school, sleep meditations to help you unwind, and even quick exercise classes you can do at home.
Headspace has three basic-level courses that provide beginners with the building blocks of meditation, helping them to grow their practice and apply mindfulness in their daily lives. Their eight pro-level courses are geared toward those who already have an established meditation practice, but may not be as advanced or extensive as some may be looking for.
Headspace has a number of unique, topic-specific meditations like ‘How to Communicate With Care’ and ‘Finding Confidence After Unemployment’, as well as mindfulness tutorials that target common obstacles in meditation, such as ‘How to Handle Anxiety While Meditating’ or ‘How to Stay Awake During Meditation.’
A large majority of the meditation courses are taught by Headspace’s founder, Andy Puddicombe, as well as other professional meditation teachers earning them a 5 out of 5 stars in our “Credibility & Expertise” category of our scoring criteria. The skills taught through the courses in Headspace set you up to maintain a consistent meditation practice.
Proven Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation
Research shows that there are extensive physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness and meditation, from reduced stress and anxiety, improved mood, sleep, and cognitive functioning to a reduction in depression symptoms and chronic pain.1, 2
Meditation and mindfulness are also believed to be neuroprotective, guarding areas of the brain related to decision-making, planning, and problem-solving from the harmful effects of stress. Research even indicates that meditation can help to slow, stop, or even reverse the mental decline that occurs naturally as people age.3
How Does This Translate to Apps?
It is not yet clear that the benefits associated with mindfulness and meditation translate to users of meditation apps like Headspace. For some people, their phones can be a distraction, and using this medium could detract from the potential benefits of mental health apps in general.
On its website, Headspace has a dedicated section to research the benefits of its app, but some critics aren’t convinced. A professional review of 700 mindfulness apps conducted in 2015 found that less than 4% actually provided mindfulness education and training, although Headspace received the highest scores of all of the apps in this review.4
Who Is Headspace Right For?
Headspace is an excellent app for those exploring meditation and mindfulness for the first time. Headspace teaches beginners the building blocks of meditation in their “Basics” courses, like how to breathe, how to stay focused, and how to complete a body scan.
Headspace may also be a good option for those who already practice meditation but struggle to find the time to fit it into their schedule. They have single-session meditations that are 5-10 minutes long to help you maintain your practice throughout the week and on the go.
Headspace is great for families looking to build their meditation practice, as they offer a significant discount for both families and students. They also have “Sesame Street” based meditations, geared towards teaching younger children the basic techniques of mindfulness (I recommend adult supervision!).
Headspace may also be helpful if you’re struggling with sleep. Their specific “Sleepcast” content can help you learn how to wind down from your day by using breathwork and visualization techniques to calm your mind and body before bedtime. The “Sleepcasts” can be used to help you drift off to sleep, with soothing bedtime stories and ambient sounds.
Who May Want a Headspace Alternative?
Headspace is a good option for beginners and those looking for an engaging, non-intimidating app. But it’s not going to be a fit for advanced practitioners of mindfulness and meditation and it won’t be a solution for people looking for online therapy or one-on-one life coaching.
Alternatives for Advanced Practitioners
While Headspace does offer advanced “Pro” meditation and mindfulness courses, some may not find them challenging enough. Apps like Insight Timer may be a better fit for those with formal training or those wanting to further deepen their practice. To learn more about their vast meditation library, you can read our detailed Insight Timer Review.
Alternatives for Teletherapy
Headspace isn’t an online therapy platform, which means that those looking to work with a licensed therapist or mental health coach should look into BetterHelp or Talkspace. You can read all about what subscriptions are offered and the cost in our detailed BetterHelp review and our Talkspace review.
It is also important to note that Headspace does not offer any medical advice and should not be used during times of crisis. Some people with certain mental health diagnoses, like severe anxiety and depression, can experience negative side-effects during intense meditation practice. Those people should speak to their healthcare providers before starting a meditation practice.5
Other Reasons an Alternative May Be Best
Headspace does not offer any lifestyle tracking for activities like sleep or exercise. Those interested in tracking health data would be better served by other health apps.
Additionally, those looking for free content can’t find it in the Headspace app; all of their meditations and mindfulness exercises are locked behind a paywall. They do, however, offer a limited number of free educational materials through Headspace.com, on YouTube and Netflix.
The free articles and meditations on these other platforms give you a good sense of the content that’s offered with a paid subscription, so if you’re not thrilled about the price or want to get a taste for the content before purchasing, this could be a good option.
Headspace accounts and subscriptions are only available to those 18-years and older.
What Are Headspace Users Saying?
The Headspace app has high star ratings and reviews with both Google and Apple. They have a 4.9-star rating based on 874,000 reviews on the Apple Store and a 4.5 star rating based on 260,000 reviews on the Google Play Store. Despite the high ratings, there are some really big complaints about the Headspace app.
Bad Customer Service
Many users pointed out that the customer service was terrible. Several people remarked that they received generic responses from app developers with little to no help and an email address to contact. Customer service seemed especially bad surrounding canceling subscriptions or seeking refunds.
Personally, I received great customer service, but I went straight to emailing the company with my problems. Customer service responses were fast and they offered helpful guidance and solutions to problems I was experiencing. Headspace earned a 4 out of 5 stars in our “Customer Service” category of our scoring criteria due to their fairly quick responses to emails.
Lots of Glitches
Another big sticking point for people was the random glitches in the app which caused meditations to pause, stop or restart completely. A new update was pushed out in December 2021, and it says in the app store that the glitches were fixed. However, I did experience one or two myself, which caused my meditation to pause and my app to restart.
Mixed Personal Preference
A couple of people complained that the meditation guide’s voices were annoying, while others really loved them. There were also mixed reviews about whether there were too many meditation options or not enough. In my opinion, Headspace has a very manageable number of meditations – not too many, not too few. I also really love the guides, Andy and Eve, and have been listening to them in the app since 2017.
Others shared my opinion that this app is great for beginners and is fun for kids. One person made the excellent observation that there are no gongs, yogis, or “namastes” that happen in this app, making it feel less intimidating.
Headspace Offers NO Free Content
But the biggest, number one complaint about the Headspace app is everything is locked behind a paywall. And that is absolutely true! If you, like me, were a Headspace user back in 2017, you will be very surprised that everything is locked. There were a small number of meditations, breathing exercises, and Sleepcasts for free on the app, but that is no longer the case.
Is Headspace Worth It?
Yes, I think that signing up for a Headspace free trial and subscription is well worth it. Headspace was my first introduction to meditation and they continue to impress me with their exercises. I never feel lost, confused, or anxious when using Headspace, and I genuinely love using the app. While there is no free content available in the app, there are reasonable free trials available that will allow you to explore what the app has to offer. This is why Headspace earned a 4 out of 5 in our “Cost & Free Trials” category of our scoring criteria. You will absolutely get what you pay for with a monthly Headspace subscription.
Headspace Cost: Headspace Plus, Headspace Family Plan & Headspace Student Plan
Headspace costs $12.99 per month or $69.99 annually. They offer significant discounts for families at $19.99 per month or $99.99 annually for up to six family members, an average of $3.33 per person. They also offer a great discount for students, at just $9.99 for an annual subscription.
Is Headspace Free?
While the app technically shows up in the App Store as “free”, this merely means that you can download it and create a user account for free. You cannot access any content unless you pay for a subscription — a free app and free content are not the same things.
Headspace App Cost
Headspace’s app, Headspace Plus, costs $12.99 per month and $69.99 per year. The monthly subscription includes a seven-day free trial, and the yearly subscription includes a two-week free trial. A subscription gives you access to every mindfulness and meditation exercise in the app – over 500 sessions in Headspace’s meditation courses alone!
With dedicated and in-depth courses for beginners and advanced students of meditation, Headspace is great for those starting or maintaining their meditation practice.
It’s important to note that while signing up for Headspace through Apple or Google is more convenient, you will only be eligible for family or student discounts if you sign up through their main website. Once you sign up on the website, you can use your login information in the app.
Headspace Family Plan
Headspace’s family plan is $19.99 per month or $99.99 per year and includes the option to add five family members. They don’t offer a free trial with the family plan, since this is a great deal and a significant discount for six people. It breaks down to just about $3.33 per person monthly or about $16 per person per year. This is a great plan for large families or even a household full of roommates.
To be eligible for the family plan, the primary account holder must sign up through the website, then they can invite five people to join their plan. Only people living at the same physical address can share a Headspace family plan and will be verified by Headspace once information is submitted.
Note: Lifetime subscription holders and employer-purchased accounts are not eligible for the family plan.
Headspace Student Plan
Headspace’s student plan costs $9.99 per year, a large discount of $60. In order to receive the discount, you must provide Headspace with your full name, date of birth, college/university name, and student ID. They will send it to their third-party verification system called SheerID.
Headspace for students does not include a free trial, as you are getting a significant discount on the yearly subscription when you prove eligibility.
This is a great resource for college students struggling with anxiety or depression, who are trying to manage school stress, feelings of overwhelm or burnout, or who are looking for help with studying and test-taking.
Headspace’s Other Special Offers
Headspace is free for educators in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. It is also free for anyone who works for the National Health Services (NHS) in the UK. Headspace for Work (H4W) is a per-employee subscription that large companies and corporations can buy at cost. It includes special mediations just for office workers in addition to the app’s regular content.
All special offers must be signed up for and redeemed on Headspace’s website.
Headspace Discounts, Free Trials, and Insurance
|Free Trial of Premium App||Yes|
|Insurance Accepted||Yes, select plans only|
Does Headspace Take Insurance?
If you live in California and have Blue Shield, you may be eligible for a Headspace Plus account through their program called Wellvolution.
What If I Want to Cancel or Upgrade My Account?
You can cancel your account at any time. To manage your app subscription, you must log in to your Google Play or Apple account, go to “Manage Subscriptions”, and cancel your subscription. You will still have access to everything in the app until your paid month or year is over.
If you want to upgrade from the monthly subscription to the annual subscription, you must cancel your monthly subscription before the next billing cycle, then wait for your subscription to run its course. After your month is over, you can then upgrade to the annual subscription.
Pro-tip: If you want to upgrade from the monthly subscription to an annual subscription, make sure you email Headspace directly to ask for help. When I did this, they emailed me back directions and a discount code for the yearly subscription.
Headspace only offers refunds to those who sign up for a yearly subscription on their website, and only within the first 30 days of signing up. You must email Headspace directly for this refund. They do not offer refunds for the monthly subscription.
Any subscriptions made through Apple or Google are not eligible for refunds.
How to Get Started With the Headspace App
The Headspace app is available through the Apple or Google stores, or you can create an account on the Headspace website. I recommend signing up for Headspace on their website before downloading the app to take advantage of any special offers you may be eligible for.
Sign up for a monthly or annual plan, monthly plans have a 7-day free trial, and annual plans come with a 14-day free trial. To get started visit the Headspace website.
Select your main goal, like sleeping better or being more active. It is not required to sign-up for Headspace Plus in order to create an account, but you won’t be able to listen to any content without a subscription.
Choose which free trial of Headspace Plus you are interested in and enter your payment information. Headspace is $12.99 monthly with a one-week free trial or $69.99 annually with a two-week free trial.
Don’t forget, if you want the student plan or the family plan, you must sign up on the website, not in the app.
Pro-Tip: Set a reminder in your calendar app to cancel the day before you are scheduled to be charged if you don’t want to continue with the app.
Detailed Headspace Review
Headspace’s paid app, Headspace Plus, gives beginners the tools to build and maintain a mindfulness and meditation practice through over 50 structured meditation courses. You will have access to several professional meditation teachers as you develop your practice and you will also gain access to dedicated sleep meditations as well as exercise classes. Headspace Plus costs $12.99 per month or $69.99 annually and includes a free trial.
Feature 1: “Today” Hub
The “Today” Hub has three main sections and acts as your home base in the app. Each section allows you to practice different mindfulness or meditation activities that will help to wake up your mind, re-center or focus mid-day, and then wind down at night. The activities change daily, making you want to come back to see what’s new. While it was nice to have quick access to suggested meditations during the day, they sometimes did not match my set goals during the sign-up process.
You can also access your personal profile from this hub, where you can see how many days in a row you’ve meditated, how many sessions you’ve completed, and the total number of minutes meditated. There is also an option to add “Buddies” so you can share your progress with friends and support each other on your meditation journey. For these reasons, Headspace earned a 4 out of 5 in the “Personalization” category of our scoring criteria.
The “Today” Hub sections are:
- Start Your Day: You will find various activities to guide you throughout your morning, like a breathing exercise, a short video on mindfulness in your day, or a visualization technique. All of these activities take between 1- 20 minutes every morning and range in topics from stress at work to how to practice patience.
- Your Afternoon Lift: The afternoon section offers a wider variety of activities to help break up your day. You may do another mindfulness activity or you may do a quick exercise – it’s a nice change of pace from the set activities of the morning.
- At Night: At night, you will have either meditations or mindfulness techniques to help relax your mind and get ready for sleep.
Feature 2: “Meditate” Hub
The “Meditate” Hub is where you can access all of the meditations Headspace has to offer. There are 11 main categories to explore with meditations ranging in time from as short as 3 minutes to 20 minutes or more. There is even a “Group Meditation” option where you can practice mindfulness in a live class with others. With such a diverse and regularly updated meditation library, Headspace earned a well-deserved 5 out of 5 stars for its meditation library!
The “Meditate” Hub categories are:
- Courses and singles: These are either dedicated educational courses on specific topics or individual meditations. Individual meditations, or “singles”, are on specific topics like, boosting self-esteem, everyday gratitude, forgiveness and much more.
- New and Popular: This is a list of the most popular meditations and courses on the app. It also features top meditation picks from the Headspace team and is great to explore when you want to find a meditation you haven’t done yet.
- Beginning meditation: If you are brand new to meditation, this is the best place to start! You will be taught the fundamentals of meditation through the “Basics” course, watch introductory videos of all the teachers, and learn various mindfulness techniques like body scanning, focusing attention, and noting.
- Quick Meditations: These are short and simple meditations you can do easily on a break from work, in the middle of household chores, or anytime you need a short “me” moment.
- Courses: Courses are dedicated learning programs with around 10 meditation sessions per course. They are on a variety of topics like “Managing Anxiety” and “Self-esteem” to “Basic” and “Pro” level courses and Self-esteem.
- For stress and everyday anxiety: We often feel stress from many parts of our lives, and in this section, you can find mindfulness exercises to help manage your stress. Learn how to let go of stress, overcome anxiety before taking an exam, or even how to manage that overwhelmed feeling you get at work.
- Parents and Kids: Parents can explore this section with their children and find topics like being mindful parents, balancing emotions, and finding positivity. There are meditations for children on topics like kindness and generosity, how to switch off the body at bedtime, and how to calm and relax through breathing.
- Navigating Injustice: This section features heavy topics such as grief, injustice, and privilege. These are mindfulness exercises that ask you to note these topics and provide tools on how to navigate them.
- SOS: This is a special section where you have quick access to meditations about feeling overwhelmed, burnt out or panicked.
- Timers: Timers are a great tool for those more advanced in their meditation practice and are comfortable with self-guiding and choosing a long time. You can also choose a guided timer and have someone support you through learning how to self-guide in meditation.
- Techniques and support: If you are brand new to mindfulness and meditation, it is important to learn the basic mindfulness techniques needed for meditation. This section in the app earned Headspace 5 out of 5 stars in the “Mindfulness” category of our scoring rubric. You can watch short videos explaining what the techniques are and you can revisit them as many times as needed.
The live “Group Meditation” classes have specific start times throughout the day, but if you miss them you can always join late. The ones I attended were taught by Headspace’s founder, Andy Puddicombe, and were on topics like how kindness takes practice and signposts, which are metaphorical markers that distract you during meditation.
What I found interesting about group meditations is that there is no interaction with anyone else in the class. You are not on camera, you cannot see your meditation teacher, and there is no real sense of being in a class at all. While initially skeptical, I ended up enjoying the classes I attended and did feel some sense of community. This is another reason why Headspace earned 5 out of 5 stars in the “Extra Features & Resources” category of our scoring criteria.
Feature 3: “Sleep” Hub
The “Sleep” Hub has consistently been the biggest draw to Headspace for me personally over the years. This hub has eight different categories to explore from grown-up bedtime stories to how to unwind after a long day and white noise loops. “Sleep” is a must-visit out of all the hubs Headspace has to offer.
The “Sleep” Hub categories are:
- Sleepcasts: These bedtime stories for grown-ups are told in a wide range of soothing voices with the goal of helping you drop off to sleep. Almost all of the Sleepcasts will include a wind down, a story, and then some ambient or white noise.
- Wind downs: These are mini-meditations to do while you lay in bed and are on topics like switching off your brain, or bringing your body to a place of rest.
- Sleep music: If listening to pure white noise isn’t quite your thing, but you don’t love complete silence, sleep music might be for you. There are ambient tones, synthesizer notes, and nature sounds throughout each track and you can change the length of the tracks from 45 minutes to 500 minutes.
- Kids and parents: Headspace’s big sleep feature for kids are the Sesame Street based meditations, but there are traditional Headspace meditations available as well. These meditations last between 1 to 10 minutes and teaches them how to put their bodies and minds to sleep by visualizing their toes going to sleep all the way up to their brains.
- Eve’s guide to sleep: Eve is the director of meditation at Headspace, and she is also one of the meditation teachers. In this section, you will have access to a special, five-day course she created for learning how to get better sleep.
- Nighttime SOS: If you ever wake up at night with racing thoughts or you have nightmares, this section has guided meditations to help you calm your mind and get back to a good night’s rest. These are short meditations that last no longer than five minutes.
- Soundscapes: If you can’t sleep without white noise, this will be your new go-to section. This area has everything from rain sounds and ocean waves to cicadas singing and thunderstorms.
- Sleep Radio: This area features three “non-stop” mixes of Headspace’s most popular sleep audios. There is an all-night rain radio, an ambient tone radio, and ocean waves crashing radio.
Feature 4: “Move” Hub
“Move” is a newer area for Headspace, where you can find yoga, dance tutorials, and guided workouts with professional trainers. This section also has dedicated “Rest Day Meditations” to make sure you recover correctly from working out. This is another of many extra features that Headspace offers, which earned the app 5 out of 5 stars in the “Extra Features & Resources” category of our scoring criteria.
There are 8 areas to explore in the “Move” hub including:
- Feel-Good Yoga: You can do a yoga class for waking up, falling asleep, and for any moment in between.
- Lincoln Center Dance Breaks: Have fun exploring different types of dance from the Samba to Conga and get your heart rate up.
- Mindful Cardio: These guided audios are made to get your heart racing and are led by professional trainers or in partnership with the Nike brand. Special guest, Kevin Hart, also leads some of the “mindful cardio” sessions which is interesting, to say the least.
- Move Minis: In these short 10 to 15 minutes videos, you can work out quickly and effectively. Some of them require basic workout equipment like a yoga mat.
- Quick Workouts: Various workouts from 10 to 30 minutes that you can complete anywhere, anytime, and with little to no equipment needed.
- Get Moving with Kim: Trainer Kim Glass is a professional trainer, former indoor volleyball player, and a silver medal Olympiad. She has built a 28-day program that is geared towards beginners and will help you jump-start your fitness goals.
- Get Moving with Leon: Trainer Leon Taylor is a three-time Olympian and a yoga instructor as well as a personal trainer for over 10 years. This is also a 28-day program, much like the one with Trainer Kim.
- Rest day meditations: Resting your body so it can heal and repair is important in any fitness plan. With these rest-day meditations, you can let your body recover while your mind does the exercising.
Feature 5: “Focus” Hub
The “Focus” Hub differs from the Meditate Hub in subtle, but important ways. In this hub, you will have access to master meditation teacher Kessonga Gicombe and he will help you learn how to recenter yourself throughout your day. There are also focus music playlists from familiar musicians, and quick meditations for work or study.
The 7 areas to explore in the “Focus” hub are:
- Kessonga’s Guide to Focus: Meditation teacher Kessonga Giscombe’s goal is to help you learn how to center yourself in the here and now. In his section, he has gathered all his favorite “quick resets” which help you regain your focus, with playlists by artists like John Legend and Hans Zimmer, and meditations on how to deal with distractions and develop a healthier relationship with technology.
- Quick Focus Resets: These are either breathing exercises, a mindful walk to move your body, or nature videos. All are designed to give your mind a break and help you refocus on the tasks you still need to complete.
- Focus music: You can find great playlists from musicians like Hans Zimmer, Erykah Badu, and John Legend that will help you while you study, work or clean the house.
- Soundscapes: These are the same soundscapes found in the “Sleep” hub.
- For Work: Here you’ll find single meditations from 3 to 10 minutes about things like commuting home, working from home, and decompressing after work.
- For Study: This section has great meditations on topics like exam prep, dealing with distractions, and presentations. It’s hard to be a college student at any age and these meditations will surely help ground you as you deal with stress or feelings of burnout.
- For Movement: These 8 mini-meditations are sports-themed and will help athletes find their concentration, motivation, and recovery.
Headspace on Netflix
Headspace is available through your Netflix account in a three-show collection. There is an 8-episode show called “Headspace Guide to Meditation”, a 7-episode show called “Headspace Guide to Sleep”, and an interactive show called “Headspace Unwind Your Mind” where you select a topic to focus on: relaxation, meditation, or sleep. These are not full courses, like you will find in the Headspace app subscription, but are fine if you are curious about what Headspace is like. While some of the episodes correspond to the app, not everything does so it is worth signing up for one of the Headspace app’s free trials.
Headspace on YouTube
Headspace’s YouTube channel features free videos on a range of topics for free. There are videos for children and their caregivers, mini-meditations, which give you examples of what is in the Headspace app, and select Sleepcasts and meditations available. Some of the YouTube content can be found in the app, but it is a little bit more varied. Getting to watch Andy talk about subjects like technology, change, and loneliness is a nice change from only hearing his voice.
Headspace’s website has a plethora of educational information available for free and it’s worth spending some time exploring. There are articles on meditation, mindfulness, sleep, and stress, with most of the articles including a free meditation or video on mindfulness to watch. Much of what is on Headspace’s website can be found in one form or the other in the Headspace Plus app. However, the website is a great resource for those that might be interested in mindfulness and meditation, but are unsure of what a full meditation session is like.
Headspace vs. Calm App
Headspace’s biggest competitor is the Calm app, which earned 4 out of 5 stars overall on our scoring rubric. Calm also provides meditations, mindfulness exercises, soothing sounds, and music to aid in relaxation and sleep. Our detailed review of Calm vs Headspace showed that while the two apps have a lot in common in terms of meditation content, there are some key differences that might make one app a better fit for some users. They have similar yearly subscription fees at $60-$70, and both offer free trials of their premium content. However, Calm offers select free meditation courses whereas Headspace does not offer any free content at all.
Headspace provides more specific topics, targeting people who have narrowed down an area of their life or specific issue they are hoping to improve. Calm is more general in its content, allowing for more flexibility in how you’re able to use the app. Headspace might be better for beginners who are eager to learn more about meditation, and Calm might be better suited for more experienced meditators. To learn everything Calm has to offer, you can read our comprehensive Calm app review.
Headspace vs Insight Timer
Insight Timer is another very well-known meditation app and just like Headspace earned 4.5 out of 5 stars overall on our scoring rubric. However, Insight Timer features a much more extensive meditation library than Headspace. They offer several meditation traditions to choose from, including spiritual, religious, and philosophical practices in addition to secular meditations. The primary goal of Insight Timer is to form a deeper meditation practice. It seems to be geared more toward those who already have a solid foundation in meditation. While Insight Timer does not offer a monthly subscription, they have a 30-day free trial and their yearly subscription costs $60. Not only is this cheaper than Headspace, but it is also a longer free trial.
Another huge difference between Insight Timer and Headspace is that Insight Timer offers free content. Everything in the Headspace app is locked until you sign up for a free trial and choose a subscription. You can easily use Insight Timer for free without ever needing to upgrade to their MemberPlus subscription, their meditation library is just that big.
Headspace vs Ten Percent Happier
The Ten Percent Happier app is a smaller meditation app that seems to focus on helping those with anxiety and it earned 4 out of 5 stars overall on our scoring rubric. Much like Headspace, Ten Percent offers full meditation courses, meditation singles, and sleep meditations. However, there are a couple of unique features about Ten Percent Happier that make it stand out. All of their meditation courses have two components, a video introduction by co-founder Dan Harris and then a meditation. Ten Percent Happier also features a Podcasts Hub with four main podcasts to explore: Twenty Percent Happier, Ten Percent Happier, Childproof, and Teacher Talks.
Ten Percent Happier is more expensive than Headspace at $99 for an annual subscription, with only a one-week free trial. But the free version has select meditations, daily reminders, and some progress tracking available, whereas Headspace’s app does not have any free content. Ten Percent Happier also has a wide range of teachers, whereas Headspace uses the same three or four meditation teachers throughout. To learn even more about this meditation app, you can read our in-depth review of the Ten Percent Happier app.
Headspace History & How It’s Changed Over the Years
Headspace’s founder, Andy Puddicombe, began the company in 2010 with the intention of becoming a mindfulness and meditation consultant to those interested in the practices. Headspace’s website notes that Puddicombe practiced meditation for a decade as a Buddhist monk and carried a deep appreciation for the benefits of regular practice.
While religious experiences sparked this passion, Puddicombe marketed Headspace as non-religious, instead of selling people on the health and mental health benefits of meditation and mindfulness.
Through his consultant work, Puddicombe met Rich Pierson, an advertising exec who would later become a co-founder of Headspace. This partnership resulted in the 2012 release of the Headspace app, which became highly successful. A February 2020 article from Techcrunch notes that of the 65 million downloads, the company has 2 million paid subscribers and 600 corporate partners who offer the app’s services as a wellness benefit to employees.
When the Covid-19 pandemic initially took hold in early 2020, Headspace unlocked select meditations and Sleepcast content, making it free for those without subscriptions to use. That has since changed, and all of their content now remains behind a paywall.
Final Verdict on Headspace
The cost of Headspace Plus is absolutely worth the price tag. Headspace consistently leads in the mindfulness and meditation space, and that lead is well-earned. Not only is it successful because of its user-friendly interface, varied content, and easy-to-learn techniques, but because of how fun it makes meditation for everyone. Headspace definitely proves over and over again that it deserves its 4.5 out of 5 star rating from us. With slight updates to the user interface, personalization options, and the addition of select free content, Headspace could easily be a 5-star app at some point in the future.
Overall, there is no sense of pretentiousness with the Headspace app — you truly get the feeling that they genuinely want you to succeed in learning meditation skills and grow a meaningful, daily practice. Between the quality of Headspace’s content and the depth of knowledge shown in the app, you will surely be on the path toward a joyful and fun daily meditation practice in no time.
For Further Reading
- Breathwrk App Review
- Yoga International Review
- Mental Health America
- National Alliance on Mental Health