Apple’s Journal app review: A simple journaling app with some smarts

Apple announced its brand new Journal app during WWDC in June this year. The app is said to help users write down their thoughts, keep a daily log, and is, as Apple says, “a new way to reflect and relive special moments”. It can also give you suggestions about what to write about, and it does this using data from your phone. Now, this sounds scary, but it really isn’t. The Journal app is currently available in iOS 17.2 public beta 2 and will be available to all compatible iPhone users when iOS 17.2 is released.

I’ve been using Apple’s Journal app for the past few weeks and this is what I think of it.

Journal App Features

I’ve never been one to write down my thoughts, but the Journal app inspired me to do so. Journaling or writing down your thoughts has been proven to be good for your mental health. For me, writing things down was and is mostly about remembering things. And I’ve mostly used the good old Notes app for all note-taking endeavors. I’ve been finding notes in my iPhone 4 ever since I first started using the Notes app.

However, journaling is different, and if you’re looking to get started but don’t want to use a pen and notebook, you can try a journal app. You’ll have it with you almost all the time, because it’s on your phone, and all you have to do is pick up your phone and type. But why not just use the Notes app, and why not Journal?

The Journal app has a simple user interface that shows your entries and suggestions

Well, Apple’s Journal app, apart from being a simple journaling app, also features some AI and machine-learning technology that makes it a little smarter than the Notes app. When you first open the app, there’s not much happening. In fact, you will only see a ‘+’ button at the bottom of the app. Tap on this button and here you will have three options. You can start writing a new journal by tapping ‘New Entry’ or you can choose to write using a topic suggested by Apple. These suggestions are sorted under ‘Recommended’ and ‘Recent’.

Apple lets you add photos, videos, voice memos, and location tags to an entry. There’s a filter that lets you choose between all your listings, listings with photos, or bookmarked listings. And that’s all.

journal app suggestions

Let’s talk about the suggestions feature in Journal because that’s what makes it different from all the other journaling apps. Suggestions can help you when you want to write a new entry. Your iPhone comes with these suggestions using on-device machine learning. It uses your photos, videos, music, health data, and more from your Apple Watch to offer journaling ideas.

In ‘Recommended’, you’ll see some suggestions for things you can write about, as well as something called ‘Reflections’. It lets you reflect on your day or life and includes questions like ‘Write about something great in your life that you don’t always think about.’

The ‘Recent’ section, on the other hand, as the name suggests, simply shows you your recent activities, which might include a trip to a nearby park or a recent walk you took.

There’s also something called Moments, which Apple says your iPhone can learn to recognize over time. After using the Journal app for a while, you will be shown these special moments or memories of your life. This would include photos or videos from one of those romantic dates, hanging out with friends, bike rides, marathons, family get-togethers, etc.

We humans live only in memories, but until someone invents a time machine, it is not realistically possible to go back. Journal app can let you take a look at those memories or moments and even let you write down things related to the memory. Using whatever data you allow Apple’s Journal app to access, it can locate the memories itself and help you write them down.

Apple is also making it available to third-party journaling apps as a suggestion API. Third-party apps can also tap into the API and show you suggestions, but they only get access to what you agree to share. The processing and machine learning will happen on your phone, which means your data will remain safe. Your journals are uploaded to iCloud for backup only, but even that is end-to-end encrypted.

You can also currently share and write in the journal from other apps. For example, I was listening to a song on Apple Music and I wanted to write something related to that song. I simply opened the share sheet and was able to add the track as an entry in the Journal app. I was also able to share a web page from Safari and add it as an entry in the app.

Journal App Settings

Since the Journal app has access to all your data, this may be a concern for some people. What if it suggests you write about something you don’t want to write about? Well, there are plenty of settings that can help the app avoid such incidents.

Journal app gives users plenty of control over their data

To access all the settings, you need to open the Settings app and scroll down to Journal. Here, you can choose which photos the app can access and what location and captions to include. You have the option to lock the app using Face ID, which is recommended, and the app can also help you maintain a schedule. In Journaling suggestions, you can choose what data is accessible by the Journal app. There are toggles for Activity, Media, Contacts, Photos, and Location. You can turn all of these off, but I wish Apple had given more granular control over things here.

Journal App – Should You Use It?

Yes, if you are someone who already keeps a journal. The Journal app lets you add media to your Moments, and it’s great. Even if you’re new to journaling, you should try the Journal app. The suggestion feature is really powerful, the app is easy to use due to the simple user interface, your data is safe, and you can secure everything with Face ID. However, it is currently only available on iPhone and iOS 17.2 public beta 2. Apple hasn’t mentioned whether it’s coming to iPad or Mac, but who knows, it could be. There is also no search option to find an entry.

However, overall, I would thoroughly recommend using the Journal app on your iPhone. It was great!

(TagstoTranslate)Apple Journal app review iOS 17.2 iPhone Journal app

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