Rumours of a new journaling app in iOS

According to the WSJ, Apple is planning on releasing a journaling app that competes with existing apps:

The software will compete in a category of so-called journaling apps, such as Day One, which lets users track and record their activities and thoughts. The new Apple product underscores the company’s growing interest in mental health.

The Apple journaling app, code-named Jurassic, is designed to help users keep track of their daily lives, according to the documents describing the software. The app will analyze the users’ behavior to determine what a typical day is like, including how much time is spent at home compared with elsewhere, and whether a certain day included something outside the norm, according to the documents.

I’m genuinely interested to discover what this will look and work like.

I’ve used the excellent journaling app called Day One for several years. I like and use it because of its simplicity, syncing, and availability on iPhone, Mac and iPad. However, because of the poor support for the specificities of the iPad, I think Apple has an opportunity to provide the basics and go beyond what Day One delivers. The iPad is a pencil-supporting device; in this respect, I think Day One has consistently missed something. It offers basic Scribble and drawing support but leaves you wanting more.1

When you look at journaling as a practice, there is much worth in writing by hand. Studies that look at learning show that people tend to remember more and for longer when they have written their notes using pen and paper.2 There is just something connecting the brain and the information through the writing process.3

Apple should Implement something akin to current functionality in Notes or Freeform, although less clunky, please. What is needed is an unencumbered combination of digital text, handwriting, drawings, and scribbles, all free from constraint and really easy to use. Some of the most personal journals include handwriting, doodles and other markings that can signify something to the writer and possibly the posthumous reader of the future. Limiting a journal to markdown or rich text is too reductive for journaling.

I’d love the Apple app to have the ability to do either, or more precisely, both. There are days I’d like to handwrite and days I’m happy sitting at my desk writing through the keyboard. With this setup, it would be easier to journal when not at the office or possessing only an iPad —the typing experience of the on-screen keyboard on an iPad is less than optimal, and I’m being very charitable.

Microsoft produced a demo of something similar to this idea over ten years ago called Courier.4 Microsoft’s concept goes way beyond what is needed and wanted. But it gives you an idea of an entirely open-ended journal, just like paper, only digital, replicated, backed up and encrypted for privacy.

3 May 2023 — French West Indies

  3. Incidentally, handwriting on a tablet, whilst better than typing, performed slightly worse than pen and paper.