Headway review – The book app for busy people

Headway is a unique reading app, which summarises non-fiction books into short 15-minute reads.

It’s an ideal app for those who want an efficient method of deducing whether a book is worth reading. The app is also useful for those who wish to recall the main content of a book they’ve already read.

The app aims to help those with busy lives find a quick method of reading, or gaining knowledge. Headway makes it possible for users to gain the important knowledge from books, such as those on marketing, in 15 minutes or less.

The books are also specifically chosen by the Headway team based on their quality, as they aim provide you with only the best non-fiction books out there.

Headway review – Pricing, features & more

This niche app is great for condensing the reading experience into a more efficient one, for those who lack free time. It’s thought of as one of the best book summary apps, and is incredibly popular with multi-million users worldwide.

However, Headway isn’t perfect, and it does have its drawbacks as well. We’ll go over both the pros and cons in this review.

Free To Use

Headway is free to download and use, though the free account you get with Headway is fairly limited.

However, there is a pro version you can upgrade to. It is a subscription service, so it’s quite an investment to make.


There are three plans to choose from, with the yearly plan having the lowest price per month. You can also opt for a monthly subscription plan if you aren’t confident a premium membership will be worthwhile for you long term.

Headway does offer a free trial, but you can only access it if you subscribe to the pro version. There seems to be only one subscription plan that provides a free trial, and it’s the most costly one at £79.99 a year. This makes it a huge investment to partake in.


The app is only vaguely describes the benefits of the pro version. There is no extensive explanation, nor is there a chart that compares the pro version to the free version. This makes it difficult to know what features are locked or limited on the free version.

Most of the features seem to be available for free users. You can read and listen to books, discover books, partake in reading challenges, and more.

However, almost all the books are unavailable for free users. You get only one free book daily, and the rest of the books require a subscription to access.

This greatly limits the usability of the app for free users, and can make it difficult to gauge whether the app’s book collection is worth investing in.

Free users can’t preview any non-free books, meaning they can’t explore content of their choosing. They can only read the daily free books.


Additionally, you cannot download any content on the free version. Pressing the download option will cause a pop-up to appear, which tells you to upgrade to the pro version.


There is no way to know that the download feature is a pro feature before pressing on it. It would be better to have a symbol marking the feature as a locked one, as pop-ups can be quite disruptive.

Furthermore, as you use the free version of the app, pop-ups will appear unprompted. These pop-ups usually state the same thing – that there’s an offer available.

Pressing it will lead you to a page, which tells you to subscribe to one of their plans at a discounted price.

These pop-ups can be fairly frequent. They are very disruptive and can be quite irritating, especially since they prompt you to spend money.

Shallow Learning Curve

Headway has a very shallow learning curve. There are not too many features to learn, and the options are all simply named.

The simple UI layout is easy to navigate, and each section is clearly labelled.

Most features come with a short description, which explain how they work. The descriptions are simple and comprehendible, making the app’s features easy to learn.


However, there is no tutorial. This means that users must learn by reading the explanations, and putting the information into practice by using the app. This may be difficult for some readers, who find it hard to remember instructions.

Nonetheless, the app’s features are very easy to pick-up once you use them. Most of them are commonplace features, such as highlighting words, playing audio, bookmarking, and more.

In place of a tutorial, the app starts by showing three short descriptions for what the app does. Whilst they’re not very extensive, they do state the basics regarding the app’s purpose.

This is useful as the app is quite niche, so it can be hard to understand what it actually does at first.

Lengthy Start-Up Process

One of the drawbacks of Headway is their lengthy start-up process.

After being shown the three pages, the app immediately starts you on a survey. It doesn’t explain why this is the case either, which can make this experience quite confusing for new users.

The questions are quite personal, so it’s daunting to be asked them without knowing the app’s purpose. Fortunately, some of them can be skipped if you press ‘continue’ without picking an option.


However, the app doesn’t make this option very clear. There is no ‘skip’ option, so one would assume that they cannot skip questions.

As you go through the questions, it becomes clear that the app want to gather information about you in order to recommend books you’ll like or want. This should be made clear from the get-go.

The survey has a fair amount of questions, so it can take a while to actually start using the app.

There is no way to completely forego this step, nor is there a notice to tell you how long the survey should take. This can make the survey seem quite unpleasant and tiresome to do.

However, there is a progress bar at the top, which fills up as you answer the questions. This gives an indication as to how far along you are in the survey, and how close you are to finishing it. This allows players to better gauge how long the process will take.

Various Features

Headway offers a variety of features, including reading challenges, foreign dictionaries, and flash cards. This makes the app useful for multiple purposes, and can tailor to a wide range of audiences.

Flexible usage

Headway offers the option to listen to books as well as read them. They have audiobook versions of every book, so you have flexibility in how you can receive content. The app also allows you to listen and read books simultaneously.


Headway also offers a flashcard feature; where you can view sections you’ve highlighted, or insights you’ve saved

You can select words or phrases from books, and press the highlight option to highlight them. This adds them to your flashcard collection.

Alternatively, you can view important sections of a book by looking at their insights tab. This makes it easy to find important information in a book, and can help users determine whether a book is worth reading.

You can save an insight by pressing the ‘remember’ option. This will add the insight to another flashcard collection.


All flashcards can be found in the ‘repetition’ tab.


You can also do a daily exercise using the flashcards. Press on a flashcard, and it will ask whether you remember the content. After pressing an answer, the app will start cycling through the other flashcards.


This can help users recall or learn certain information more easily.

Unfortunately, you can also access this feature once a day. This limitation can stop users from learning as efficiently as they could. It doesn’t allow them to try again, and possibly improve their scores.

On another note, as well as highlighting words, you can look up their definitions.


This is a pretty basic feature, but Headway takes it a step further. They provide a series of different dictionaries to choose from, including some foreign ones.

This gives users some flexibility in regards to their choice of dictionary. It also caters a larger audience, as it includes dictionaries in languages other than English. Users can choose their preferred language when looking up definitions.


Headway also offers reading challenges, where you get given a series of books to read within a certain amount of time.

These challenges provide readers with some excitement, as it encourages them to beat certain goals. It also encourages users to read more.

You can track your progress as you go through each challenge. Books you’ve finished reading will get marked. This makes it easy to monitor your progress.


Customisation Options

Headway also provides a customisable reader, where users can change the page colour and text size.


Users can alter their reading interface to suit their own preferences, which allows for a more comfortable reading experience.

However, the amount of customisation options are quite limited. You only have two options for the page colour, and no text font options.

On the other hand, there is a substantial amount of options for the text size. There are ten text size options to choose from, ranging from 60% text size to 150% text size.


  • Free to download and use.
  • Shallow learning curve.
  • Simple UI.
  • Has a customisable reader.
  • Has many text size options.
  • Can listen to books, as well as read them.
  • Can listen and read books simultaneously.
  • Has a flashcard feature.
  • Provides reading challenges.
  • Can track reading progress.
  • Has a series of dictionaries to choose from.


  • Requires a subscription in order to unlock all features.
  • Must subscribe to access their free trial.
  • No tutorial.
  • Has frequent pop-ups.
  • Disruptive UX for free users.
  • Most books are locked for free users.
  • Download feature is locked for free users.
  • Limited customisation options.
  • No text font options.
  • Has an unexplained survey at the start.

Common Questions

What does the Headway app do?

Headway summaries non-fiction books into 15-minute summaries, condensing the important parts for those with little free time. It provides quality summaries of some of your favourite titles.

Is the Headway app free?

Yes, the app is free to download and use. However, most books are unavailable for free users. They get one free book daily, but the rest are unavailable unless you subscribe to the pro version. There are four subscription plans to choose from, and one of them offers a free trial. You must subscribe first in order to access the free trial.

How much is the Headway app?

There are four subscription plans:

Pay £79.99 a year, and get a 7-day free trial.
Pay £58.99 a year.
Pay £29.49 every 3 months.
Pay £12.49 a month.


In conclusion, Headway is a useful app for reading books in an efficient manner. It can help users quickly determine whether a book is worth reading, and allow those with little free time to enjoy the hobby.

The app also has flexible usage, as it allows users to listen to books as well as read them. This further supports those who have little free time, as listening to books allows users to multitask whilst using the app.

However, the app is not very friendly to free users. Most books are inaccessible to them, which makes it hard to test the app out. There are also frequent pop-ups that prompt users to spend money, which can be very disruptive and annoying to experience. This makes using the app quite difficult for free users.

Overall, the app seems to be a useful tool for efficient reading. However, it’s a difficult app to use for free users. If you wish to actually utilise the app, you should invest in it.

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I love reading, writing, drawing, and other creative pursuits. I wish to travel more and do extreme activities, such as bungee-jumping and skydiving. I'm a casual gamer with an affinity for narrative-driven games and unique art styles. I like watching a variety of different media, but I particularly enjoy animations and musicals. My favourite genre, for both books and visual media, is psychological-thriller.

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