The Apple Journal app was a disappointment, but with the new features announced at WWDC 2024 I may be tempted back (2024)

The Apple Journal app was a disappointment, but with the new features announced at WWDC 2024 I may be tempted back (1)

A few months ago I spent a week with the Apple Journal app trying to get a feel for it and test out whether this software beats out physical diary-keeping. As someone who’s maintained a diary since I was 12-years-old, I had high expectations for the app, but sadly they weren’t met. In reality, I found it to be a basic, boring diary app. However, at WWDC 2024 Apple announced a handful of new features coming to Journal that might actually get me using the app.

If you missed the various revelations at WWDC 2024, Apple announced a whole load of new features for iOS 18, as well as macOS 15 Sequoia, and introduced Apple Intelligence. Amongst the bigger news like an updated Siri, Apple snuck in a few minutes to talk about a new Journal app and a refreshed interface, which piqued my interest and actually got me excited.

What new features am I keen to try out? First off, there’s that brand-new user interface, moving away from the dreary timeline-esque layout to a more modern app look. This includes insights that track your writing streaks, how many words you’ve written in total in Journal, and a cool little graph to let you know how many entries you’ve done during the year.

Separating from the pack

You can also keep a tab of how many restaurants you’ve visited each year, with all the information displayed neatly in one place. This is a very welcome change from the current Journal layout that just opens on your most recent entry, with a single drop-down menu and not much insight available.

If you cast your mind back to my first experience with the rather boring Journal app, one of my main complaints was the fact that the application was kind of lackluster. I observed that there are plenty of better journaling clients on the App Store that can offer so much more, and for a journaling app on your phone you would think you’d get access to better features than just: ‘Here's some recommended photos from your trip today - write about them!’

One of the new features announced at WWDC that I feel adds to the user experience is the ability to log your state of mind. It may seem like a small thing to log how you feel with a sliding bar, but it allows the Journal app to distance itself from being just another note-taking app on your phone.

I mean, I can do that on the Notes app no problem, but as someone who journals for their mental health and to track how I’m feeling, having a nice clear log of the different headspaces and mood shifts throughout the week (or month, or even year) is a great insight, and one I think many people could benefit from. No more color-coding or shuffling through multiple entries to find how you felt, instead you can have a clear overview that automatically saves and categorizes the data you put in.

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A massive improvement with search

Finally, and I think most importantly, the one change that will tempt me to give Journal another go will be the ability to search. Apple touched on this very quickly before moving on, which is a little odd as I consider it to be the most important change!

Right now, when you’ve got a plentiful amount of entries and you don’t want to keep having to scroll down for ages to find something specific, you have limited filter options to pinpoint what you might be looking for. This includes categories like Bookmarked posts, entries with photos, Reflections, and logged places.

But that isn’t really specific enough to narrow things down. I’m an emotional girlie, and with the length and depth of my entries, these categories are simply not helpful enough for me to find some long dramatic paragraph where I was deep in my feels - or a collection of photos or notes from places that are either very old or quite personal.

However, we’re finally getting search capabilities! With all the features discussed above, actual search functionality feels like the bow on top. With better insights and mood tracking, I can already see myself reaching for the Journal app more, but now that I can effectively search for people, places, keywords, moods, and whatever else I may be looking for, I can actually see myself using the app for a lot longer.

Search may seem like a relatively minor change to be excited about, but as I said already, the way the app is laid out right now makes it feel like your older posts just kind of get lost in the abyss. But, as someone who uses their diary as a best friend and confidant as well as a shopping list, thought dump, and just a place to be a little raw with feelings, it’ll be an absolute game-changer to be able to weed out the mess and get to what I’m looking for.

Overall, the Journal app may have only taken up a few minutes of the WWDC 2024 keynote, but I’m buzzing and can’t wait to see the new refreshed version. Plus, Apple Intelligence improves your writing skills and offers suggestions, and I can see a lot of people not only using the app more, but perhaps even using it to store project ideas or scripts, logs, and other material besides.

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The Apple Journal app was a disappointment, but with the new features announced at WWDC 2024 I may be tempted back (2)

Muskaan Saxena

Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines.Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison.Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place. Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).

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The Apple Journal app was a disappointment, but with the new features announced at WWDC 2024 I may be tempted back (2024)


What is the Apple journal app? ›

Journal is a new app that you see on your iPhone after you update to iOS 17.2. Journal makes it easy to get into the habit of journaling. Journaling suggestions intelligently group outings, photos, workouts, and more to help you remember and reflect on your experiences.

Who owns the app journal? ›

Journal is a personal journaling app developed by Apple Inc. for iPhones, first revealed during the 2023 Worldwide Developers Conference before officially being released on December 11, 2023, alongside iOS 17.2.

How safe is an Apple journal? ›

When your phone is locked with a passcode, entries in the Journal app are encrypted. If you have default two-factor authentication and a passcode, all Journal entries are end-to-end encrypted when stored in iCloud, so even Apple can't read them.

Does journal sync to iCloud? ›

With Journal Sync, you can back up your journals to iCloud and sync your content between your iOS devices.

Can I use my iPad as a journal? ›

Because handwriting on the iPad is possible with the Apple Pencil, journaling on the iPad allows you to get a lot out of the experience of writing longhand like you would in an analog, paper journal.

Why did Apple release Journal? ›

While Apple didn't release the app with iOS 17 in September or with the iPhone 15 series, the tech giant did release the app with iOS 17.2 in December. Journaling has been linked with many mental health benefits, including helping manage anxiety, reducing stress and coping with depression.

Is there a free journal app? ›

Day One is the original digital journal app. A decade of updates and feature additions make it the most private, trusted, and easiest-to-use journaling app in the world. *Day One is FREE to use forever with unlimited entries.

Why isn't the journal app on iPad? ›

By digging into iOS 17.2 code, 9to5Mac can confirm that the Journal app is only compatible with the iPhone at this point, and it seems unlikely that it will be made available for other devices in the near future.

Is the Apple journal backed up? ›

Store your entries safely in iCloud so they're automatically backed up. Your suggestions are private and only what you select will be shared with the app. Set a schedule and receive notifications to keep a consistent journaling practice.

Are Apple notes safe from hackers? ›

Secure notes

The note and all of its attachments are encrypted using AES with Galois/Counter Mode (AES-GCM).

Can I use my iPhone as a journal? ›

The Journal app (iOS 17.2 or later) makes it easy to capture your thoughts on everyday moments and special events.

What is the new journaling app for Apple? ›

If you've downloaded iOS 17.2, you're probably wondering why there's a new app on your home screen. It's the Journal app, and it's exactly what it sounds like: a place to reflect and record your thoughts and memories. Before you rush to delete it, I recommend giving it a chance.

Does Apple look at your iCloud files? ›

No one else can access your end-to-end encrypted data — not even Apple — and this data remains secure even in the case of a data breach in the cloud. If you lose access to your account, only you can recover this data, using your device passcode or password, recovery contact, or recovery key.

Can you lock an Apple Journal? ›

Lock your journal

Protect your journal so only you can access it with with Face ID, Touch ID, or your passcode. Go to Settings > Journal > Lock Journal, then turn on Lock.

What is the impact factor of iOS journal? ›

Its Impact Factor has gone from 2.224 to 3.524, which lead to an increase in ranking from Q2 to Q1 in the Computer Science, Information Systems category.

What is the best free journal app for iPad? ›

Day One is the original digital journal app. A decade of updates and feature additions make it the most private, trusted, and easiest-to-use journaling app in the world. *Day One is FREE to use forever with unlimited entries.

What is Apple writing app? ›

Pages is a powerful word processor that lets you create stunning documents, and comes included with most Apple devices.

Can you print from the Apple journal app? ›

Unfortunately, the native Journal app on iPhones (available on iOS 17.2 and later) doesn't currently offer a way to directly copy or print entries.


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