As the name suggests, Calm is an app that helps its users to stay better relaxed and sleep more restfully. The service is available as an app on the App Store and Google Playstore.
It mainly offers meditation lessons, sleep stories and lullabies, therapeutic music and soundtracks, a mindful physical exercise regimen, accompanying nature sceneries, daily calming sessions, and regular updates.
Over the years, Calm has been so good in what it was created to do that Apple Inc named it as the best app in 2017. It has also been recognized as an Editors’ Choice on Google Playstore. Among other upsides, users generally commend Calm for its richness of content.
Then, as you may know, the app has its drawbacks too. For example,
- Some users have issues with Calm’s user interface being unsightly and difficult to navigate. To them, this is a deal-breaker for an app that is supposed to help you relax better.
- Some other users are not happy that they can’t turn off the audio notification. Again, imagine that jerking you up in the middle of what should have been a restful time of deep sleep.
- There are many desirable features said to be lacking in the free plan of Calm. Some of them are a playlist, playback speed control for audio/video content, looping functionality, and more. Think about it – if you can’t control the speed of an audio meditation, the pace cannot be personalized. So, it ceases to be of much help to your unique circumstances.
- Most of the content that used to be free on Calm is now locked behind the premium membership paywall.
One of these or any other may be your reason for wanting to get acquainted with some quality alternatives to the app. Are there other apps like Calm that are free? Here are some of the best of them that you will come across.
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Although this app is similar to Calm in many respects, it is also better than Calm in many other aspects.
For example, just like Calm, MyLife is only available as a downloadable app on iOS and Android devices.
If you care about space economics, you are likely to prefer MyLife to Calm. That is because the MyLife app occupies only 11 MB on your Android device while Calm takes over seven times that space (77 MB!).
I thought about that because I found that space issues around our devices are one of those little acknowledged causes of emotional upheaval in our lives.
Well, remember we are looking for apps that do as good a job as Calm does – or better. So you definitely don’t want to get mad at an app occupying too much of your cherished space. Not when you seek to address emotional issues at least.
MyLife is a Google Play Editors’ Choice as much as Calm is. But, while Calm has been downloaded more than 5 million times, MyLife’s tallies are 5 times less (about 1 million times).
I believe it has more to do with the one that came on board first (or the one that hooked users’ interest first) than with flat-out user preferences. I say so because recent user reviews don’t seem to reflect such preference.
Meanwhile, in case you were wondering, Calm was released in May 2012 while MyLife came some two years later (June 2014).
The app is essentially free but includes in-app purchases that may become necessary only in extreme need cases.
Does MyLife do the job of calming your nerves as well as Calm?
Based on the recent user opinions I sampled, my verdict is that MyLife does that job even better despite being free.
Let’s see how.
To start with, MyLife lays a lot of stress on the unique situation of a candidate seeking emotional calm. As a result, the MyLife system is configured to customize and personalize the experience.
To assist you in understanding this point better, this is how a typical meditation session on MyLife goes:
- You are prompted to take deep breaths in and out for about 10 seconds.
- The system then asks you how you feel at the moment both physically and emotionally. You choose from a line of options displayed after the question.
- You select as many options as match how you honestly feel at the moment.
- MyLife bots bring up a menu of meditations customized just for your present situation. Some come up with a fixed duration (maybe 3 – 5 minutes, or a little more). Other cases allow you to choose the duration yourself.
- Apart from this instantaneous configuration to meet your present need, MyLife also uses the information provided in your profile to tailor recommendations for you.
Here are other reasons why I think that the MyLife meditation app is like, or better than, Calm:
- It offers a broad range and variety of meditations and expert guides.
- Many users commend the MyLife guides for sounding thoroughly genuine rather than cosmic (no gimmicks). For instance, users report that the MyLife guides generally come across as exceptionally warm and conversational in tone. This helps a lot with getting you thoroughly grounded.
- Many user opinions sampled also show that the MyLife user interface is far more intuitive and easy to navigate than the Calm user interface.
- MyLife programs are characterized by flexible lengths.
- Unlike Calm, MyLife is bilingual. It is offered in English and Spanish.
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Many user opinions indicate that Insight Timer is one of the best overall free alternatives to the Calm app.
For one reason, the platform has an open web version and is also available as an Android or iPhone app – unlike Calm that is provided only as a downloadable app.
There are many other ways that Insight Timer is just like Calm, or even much better.
To start with, the service gets its name from a feature that has been there from the beginning. The feature enables you to set a timer and meditate to timed chimes, ambient white noise and sound effects, guided thoughts, and more.
The name of Insight Timer may well be misleading because the platform does far more than just timing you. In a real sense, it is more like a caring community of meditators and experienced meditation guides.
Amid a social media-like atmosphere, IT (Insight Timer) offers over 75,000 free guided meditations provided by more than 10,000 guides to up to 18 million members.
When you finish with any content, you can see the number of people who had been consuming it with you across the big world. If you set your location, you can even see the number of those of your co-meditators who are from your region of the world.
You can follow any guide that turns out to be your favorite. This way, you are not going to miss their content whenever they publish.
Here are some of the audio titles I found when I visited the browser version of Insight Timer:
- Returning To Who We Are (Guide: Lama Rod Owens). It was originally delivered at a Duke University event.
- The Secret Journey (Guide: Gisele Bundchen)
- Signaling A New Timeline (Guide: Lalah Deliah)
- Keep Your MindUP With Gratitude (Guide: Goldie Hawn)
- Finding Calm And Serenity (Guide: Russell Brand)
Now, that gives you a fair idea of what you can get from Insight Timer in terms of audio content. You have the option to scroll through and make your choice or you can use the search function (search by topic or by guide).
You can listen to the recordings free of charge either online or offline. But, to listen offline, you must download the app.
Also, the Insight Timer community is never in short supply of live events. You can see an array of them displayed together with the scheduled day and time as well as the anchors and the number of people who have shown interest to attend.
Again, here are just a few live event titles displayed when I visited (to give you a fair idea of what to expect):
- International Yoga Day: Pranayama for Energy
- Compassion, Conversations, and Meditation
- Music for Your Mind
- Living With Purpose
- Spiritual Insights: Exploring Past Lives
Another feature of Insight Timer that gives it a huge edge over Calm is the ability of members to join closed groups and circles. There you can meet many caring, like-minded souls from across the world and share meditations with them. You can even create your own circle and invite people to join.
The platform also has an extensive library of soothing music and soundtracks. You can build long playlists with many options. You also have unlimited access to the items free of charge.
Insight Timer does have a paid plan, but it gives you access to only some of the most exclusive content you can get – such as full-circle classified courses with the topmost guides. But the free version is so rich that some users seem to think that membership is all free.
There are far more things to expect from Insight Timer. Indeed, I might not be lying if I said that the things you can do on the meditators’ social media (IT) are endless. It ultimately boils down to how much capacity you have to take in what is offered.
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This app is a great alternative to Calm for a few but strong reasons. First, it’s a free mindfulness app. This is to say that it has no subscription plans, no trials, no in-app purchases, and no ads whatsoever.
The ‘no ads’ part is special because it means that you won’t be getting distracted by pop-ups in the middle of any session.
Some users are also satisfied with the content offered on Let’s Meditate. But, while most users are happy with the quality of content, some users think they could do with bigger content libraries.
There are other reasons why this app qualifies to be on this list of the best Calm-like apps in the world right now:
- You can download the voice meditations and listen to them offline.
- The space requirement is extremely minimal. The Android version, for example, takes only 4.1 MB of your storage space.
- Most user opinions I sampled about the app were positive.
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Medito is like a discovery to me. To say that it’s like Calm would be a great understatement because it actually stands shoulder high above the latter. Below are some of my reasons for saying so:
- Medito is 100% free and does not run ads. It indicates that it has in-app purchases though.
- It doesn’t occupy much of your storage space. It takes only 8.5 MB on Android devices for example. Compare this with Calm’s 77 MB and you’d see why it’s far from just being like Calm but a lot better.
- Medito sports an elegant user interface that is intuitive and easy to use.
- Many users indicate that they are satisfied with the Medito content coverage. The content is classified according to different need types.
- The support team is full of kind, responsive, and warm people going by what many users say.
- Medito allows you many customization options. For instance, you can choose between voices. You can also change the background sound to what you prefer.
- The platform offers free guided courses. It starts with a free 30-day course for beginners as soon as you sign up.
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On the surface, Smiling Mind Spaces is an app that is downloadable on the Google Play Store and App Store, but in a real sense, it is far more than just an app.
Instead, it is a broad-based program that is specially targeted at helping young people to develop healthy minds.
As an app, Smiling Mind Spaces is not only like Calm but also better for the following reasons:
- It is a hundred percent not-for-profit tool. So, as they would say, we can trust them more than we trust Calm because they’re out to make an impact rather than to make a profit.
- They have no in-app purchases. It further supports their claim that the program is designed with absolutely no profit in mind. That’s important because if you must entrust your emotion to someone, you need to have enough reasons to do so.
- The owners of the app run exclusive, free programs for teachers. It is aimed at enhancing mindfulness in teaching and learning while making classrooms more engaging.
- They also have special learning materials for parents.
- The app consumes far less storage space than Calm – only 13 MB on Android.
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UCLA Mindful is an app that is based on the work of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). The app can be downloaded either on the Google Play store or on iTunes.
Here are the reasons why I know that UCLA Mindful is not just like Calm but also better in many ways:
- It has rich content that is research-based.
- It is not for profit. So, you have more reasons to trust it than many of its contemporaries.
- Unlike Calm that is available only as a downloadable app, UCLA Mindful is available both as a downloadable app and on the open web.
- It is multilingual and covers about 13 international languages.
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Like Calm, Healthy Minds Program App is available for download on Google Play Store and also on the App Store. But unlike Calm, it is totally free with no ads and no subscription plans of any kind.
Here are other features that make this app like Calm or even better:
- It doesn’t take up much space on your device (only 22 MB on Android).
- It is backed by quality support despite being free.
- It combines meditation with a detailed learning program.
- In case you are a secular-minded person like me, the Healthy Minds Program is purely based on science and has nothing to do with mythical poses as with many other meditation apps.
- It provides you with features to help you to be accountable to yourself.
- It allows you a lot of choices. For instance, you can choose active or sitting meditation, the length of the session, or the voice (whether male or female).
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Mindfulness Meditations is another app I found to be like Calm in many ways but also better than Calm in others. Here are my reasons for saying so:
- The voices sound thoroughly natural.
- The user interface is elegant, intuitive, and easy to use.
- It has a huge amount of content that is classified and rich.
- It offers a lot of options in terms of length, bells, and voices.
- It includes features for journaling and metrics. With these, you can easily track your progress.
- It also includes features for notification, milestones, and motivation. With this, many users say they are no longer forgetting to be consistent with the meditations. The starred points also encourage you not to give up.
- It includes a supportive community of meditators where you can create and/or join groups.
- You can also create or customize your own meditation.
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Lojong is a free app that is available on Google Play Store and App Store just like Calm. Here are the reasons why I think that Lojong is one of the best of these apps:
- Many users agree as to the richness of content on the Lojong App.
- The app also includes quality user support.
- It also offers free introductory video guides and other training materials.
- It includes customizable timers and reminders.
- It doesn’t take much storage space on your device (only 26 MB on Android for example).
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According to the owners of ThinkRight.me, the app was founded with one thing in mind: to help users make positive thoughts and emotions the ‘normal’ of their lives. But, how is this app like Calm?
- First, I already told you that it helps you to think and feel better. Of course, that sounds like what Calm does.
- Again, just like Calm, ThinkRight.me offers great quality and quantity of content. It’s all geared towards making you think and feel better.
- It’s got a great user interface.
- ThinkRight.me is free – unlike Calm.
A few words for you if you are Indian – this app was made in India by an Indian (BK Shivani). It was probably made for Indians too. At least that’s what I think because, in late 2019, a source rated it as India’s best.
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Accordingly, there was also an increase in business interest in the field. All sorts of apps have been springing up often with the aim to take people’s hard-earned dollars. So, it was difficult to select the best of them that are like Calm or better, but free.
At last, the above alternatives should help you if you need something other than Calm. And you may wonder which one I picked among all 10 of them?
It’s hard to decide actually, but based on the gut-level assessment of user experiences that I sampled, I give it to Medito and I’m sure that most Redditors also agree with me on this.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.