Calm vs Waking Up: Which Meditation App Should You Use

We need peace of mind more than ever in this fast-paced world where everything and everyone is connected online, all the time. What better way to attain it than sit in silence and meditate daily for some time? There are a few meditation apps that we have covered in the past that may help but today, we will be looking at Calm and Waking Up specifically.

Calm vs Waking Up comparison

Calm has been around for past few years and has a loyal userbase. Meanwhile, Waking Up arrived recently and continues to climb the popularity charts. Let’s understand how these two meditation apps differ and which one you should use.

Let’s begin.

Platform Availability

Both Calm and Waking Up are supported on Android and iOS. Neither of them has any app for the desktops.

User Interface

Calm will ask you to choose your purpose for meditating before continuing with the lessons. You can select more than one goal or none and tap on Continue. The app will then ask some basic questions to tailor content, but you have the freedom to skip that.

Calm vs Waking Up comparison 1
Calm vs Waking Up comparison 2

To start off, Google or Facebook accounts can help you sign up with Calm quickly. The UI is divided into 5 tabs at the bottom for easy reach. A nice touch is the background wallpaper (some are live) with a sound that you can update by tapping the triangle button at the top.

Calm vs Waking Up comparison 3
Calm vs Waking Up comparison 4

Waking Up will ask about your experience level instead of goals which can be useful for those who are just starting with meditation and don’t know what they want to achieve with these exercises.

Calm vs Waking Up comparison 5
Calm vs Waking Up comparison 6

Meanwhile, the Waking Up app offers four tabs at the bottom. The app’s interface appears more functional for the lessons are easy to find.

That said, Calm takes the lead with customizable live wallpapers and sounds along with a colorful interface.

Meditation Sessions in Calm

Tamara Levitt leads Calm and voices several lessons that are available in the app. Apart from that, Calm invites popular figures from different fields, including music (Shawn Mendes) and sports (LeBron James), to deliver lessons with their unique stories and perspective. The Sleep tab also carries several stories voiced by famous personalities on several topics.

Calm vs Waking Up comparison 7
Calm vs Waking Up comparison 8

Don’t like stories? How about some instrumental music, so you don’t get lost in the lyrics? There is no shortage of choice either, as you will notice music ranging from guitar to famous Disney tunes. Some people prefer sounds of nature, but Calm also has Office ‘Soundscapes’ listed.

Calm vs Waking Up comparison 9
Calm vs Waking Up comparison 10

A 7-day course with 7 meditation lessons is freely available. While the first lesson is free to give an idea of the content type, you can pay to unlock other lessons.

Calm vs Waking Up comparison 11
Calm vs Waking Up comparison 12

Theory vs Practice in Waking Up

Waking Up was founded by Sam Harris, who wrote a best seller book with the same name. Where Calm has invited artists and athletes, Waking Up has experts like Leo Babuta of Zen Habits fame and Laurie Santos, a cognitive scientist and Professor of Psychology at Yale University. This makes more sense as it may help users fix problems and understand the root cause or identify patterns and habits.

Like Calm, there is an introductory course that’s free but most of the content will require a subscription.

Calm vs Waking Up comparison 13
Calm vs Waking Up comparison 14

The Theory tab in Waking Up is further divided into three parts. Lessons are where you will learn the fundamentals of meditation, why it matters, the importance of gratitude, and more. Conversations are like podcasts where they invite a guest and then talk, at length, about topics related to meditation. Finally, there is a Questions & Answers section where they answer some common user queries.

The Theory tab can be useful for beginners who aren’t sure what they are doing or cannot make sense of it all. It will teach and answer most of your doubts.

Calm vs Waking Up comparison 15
Calm vs Waking Up comparison 16

The Practice tab gives access to guided lessons on meditation. You receive one Daily Meditation plus access to other courses on various niche topics to explore.

Calm vs Waking Up comparison 17
Calm vs Waking Up comparison 18


Calm has a 7-day free trial, after which you pay $69.99 annually or $399.99 for a lifetime. On the other hand, the Waking Up yearly plan begins at $79.99 per year. While the annual plan is pretty competitive, Waking Up offers no one-time payment option.

Keep Calm and Meditate

Both Calm and Waking Up are good for guided meditation and cover various topics for beginners and pros alike. It depends on what you want to explore like stoicism is covered in Waking Up but not explored in Calm. We suggest you download both the meditation apps, explore topics and voiceover to get a feel of the flow. But these two aren’t the only meditation app out there. There are plenty of choices, and most of them offer a lesson for free to try out.

Next up: Here is an in-depth comparison of Headspace and Insight Timer. Learn what each meditation app has to offer in terms of content and which one should you use.

Last updated on 07 February, 2022

The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.