Graham's Blog

Apple's Journal App: First Impressions

Nov 12th, 2023

With the upcoming iOS 17.2 update, we’ll finally get our hands on the new Journal app Apple announced at WWDC earlier this year. I decided to be brave and install the public beta so I could take a look and get some first impressions. As someone with mental health struggles, I appreciate the recent efforts Apple has put into making these kinds of features available, so I was really excited to take a look at this latest addition.

First off, I like the simplicity of the interface. It doesn’t have much going on, and I think that’s a point in its favor. You can open the app and get journalling right away. It even offers you journalling prompt which is excellent for those like me who are not always sure what to write about. 1

It doesn’t have the bells and whistles an app like Day One has, but when it comes to writing a journal entry you’re given the option to add photos, location, and even an audio recording. It’s pretty barebones, but I think that’s ok. The one thing I would like is the ability to tie into the mood tracking on Apple Watch and either be able to set your current mood from the app, or tie mood tracking into the Journaling Suggestions feature.

Speaking of, I actually don’t have much to say about the Journaling Suggestions feature. At the moment it can only suggest journaling based on your workouts, music and podcasts, messages and calls you make, your photos, and significant locations. That’s not at all how I like to journal, so I actually have those turned off. Apparently there’s an API that 3rd party apps can use, but we won’t see what that will bring until iOS 17.2 officially comes out later this year.

Some other things I like are the ability to lock your journal with its own password, which I think is an absolute must for this kind of app, and the ability to set a journal schedule, which is nice for helping to build – or rebuild – a regular journaling habit.

The one thing I do not like, and this could be the dealbreaker for me, is that, at the moment, Journal is iPhone only. No iPad, no Mac, just iPhone. This severely limits its usability for me, I generally do not like writing anything more than a sentence or 2 on an iPhone. It really needs to be available on all Apple’s platforms and I’m puzzled that it isn’t. Even just making it available on iPad would be acceptable, but as it stands now I don’t think I can make use of it.

Footnotes

  1. Shameless plug: I built a webpage to solve this very problem.

Apps Mental Health Tech