With iOS 17.2, Apple added a journaling app called “Journal”. I was so excited about it that I jumped on the first beta that had it. Now it’s released for everyone to use, and I absolutely hate it. Here’s why, and what you should use instead.
Why does it suck so bad? Because it is only available on iOS — the iPhone. It’s not available on iPadOS (getting Weather app vibes), nor is it available on macOS. This means that while it is free and included with the iPhone’s OS, it’s extremely limited not just by its features but also in that you can only add entries from your phone.
Yes, you can add a bluetooth keyboard to your phone to create longer journal entries but how many people realistically do this? This is extremely limiting because for writing, I like to use a real keyboard, not rattle off paragraphs on a virtual one.
For writing, I like to sit in front of my computer or even my iPad (which has a keyboard). Hopefully this will change, but for right now this isn’t a journaling app I can use nor recommend to anyone.
I don’t usually journal, but I did start playing around with the idea back in 2016 with an app called Day One. I should say, I just wrote one entry and then ignored it. Then in 2018 I downloaded it again and wrote several entries before abandoning the app once again. But while I was back on board the journaling kick, I ponied up for the paid version of the Day One app. I became a Day One “Plus” user (which doesn’t exist anymore).
Since then, they’ve changed ownership and went to a subscription model (like everyone else). They now charge $35/year. But that’s for advanced features most people aren’t going to even use. The app is free to use if you just want to journal on one device (say your Mac). While the app is available on iPadOS and iOS, your entries won’t sync unless you pay for it. Since my 2018-self sprung for the upgrade 5 years ago I am grandfathered into that one key feature. So, yay me.
This the only journaling app I recommend if you’re part of the Apple ecosystem. Why? Well, in an effort to find a better app I downloaded and tried about a dozen other journaling apps. Some free, some I paid for, and some had a subscription model. They all sucked, at least from my perspective. I either didn’t like the UI, it was too expensive, they added unnecessary and distracting features, or didn’t have multi-platform support.
I went back to Day One. It has an every simple user interface, it covers Mac, iPhone and iPad, and syncs very quickly between all 3. That means you can start a post on your phone, then continue on your tablet or computer. The only downside is the monthly or yearly subscription model if you do want to sync between devices. Boo–they got you there. But it’s worth it. There’s a reason why it has 4.8 rating in the App Store with nearly 100,000 reviews.
Use a journal app like this for your personal diary, or use it for organizing your thoughts for work. One thing I’ve really learned to love about Day One is a reminder push notification at a time of day you choose. From that push notification I can start writing an entry, or write something short and hit submit — all without even touching the app. It’s brilliant!
I started writing a bunch of new journal entries, including a few that started looking like a blog entry. Then I thought, why not just blog about it instead of journaling about it? My last blog post was that. I decided to leave only personal information in my journal, or things that nobody in the world would care about but me. Kind of like a second brain for remembering what I did on a certain day or how I was feeling. Everything else is fodder for this blog.
With that said, one of my 2024 New Year’s resolutions is to write more. More in my journal for personal health and general life notes, and more public-safe information in my blog. The first feeds the second, so that’s why (for me), a journaling app is important. As I get older I’m constantly finding myself wanting to remember more (ok, maybe forgetting more as well) and having a searchable journal is becoming more important.
On a final note, I thought it would be interesting if I could begin a post in Day One and then turn it into a WordPress post. After a quick Google search, I found out that the parent company of WordPress (Automattic) acquired Day One in 2021. One of their stated goals at the time was to make it easy for people to push a journal post to a WordPress blog post. “Day One will allow users to choose to publish select journal entries to WordPress.com and Tumblr, and, soon, import content from either platform back into Day One, too.” Two years late it hasn’t happened and they stated it’s not on their roadmap. So for now, it’s old school copy and paste.
So what about you? What’s your favorite way to journal or keep track of your life? Please comment down below.