Apple’s Journal App Has Both Intelligence and Simplicity

Leveraging all your phone’s data to assist you in documenting your life is a captivating (albeit somewhat unsettling) concept. It’s important to note that this is just the initial version.

Apple's Journal App Has Both Intelligence and Simplicity
Apple’s Journal App Has Both Intelligence and Simplicity

Apple’s Journal App Has Both Intelligence and Simplicity

The Apple Journal app’s simplicity initially gave me the impression that I might be overlooking something. The entire app consists of just one screen: a timeline of journal entries in reverse chronological order, featuring a prominent plus button at the bottom. When I tapped the plus button, an overlay with some options appeared: I could choose to start a “new entry” at the top or respond to one of Journal’s “reflection” prompts. For example, one prompt asks, “What could you do to make someone’s day better this week?” while another suggests, “Write about a time you found an unexpected solution to a challenging problem.

While crafting a journal entry, you have the option to include photos, videos, record a voice memo, or tag a location related to the entry. As you browse the timeline, you can apply filters to view entries with photos or ones you’ve marked as special. Additionally, the app can send you daily reminders to journal. In essence, I didn’t have overly high expectations for an Apple-designed journaling app, and it turns out it’s primarily a straightforward journaling app, quite basic in nature.

To the best of my understanding, there are two main reasons for the existence of the Journal app, currently available to iPhone users in iOS 17.2 and accessible in public beta. Firstly, it aligns with Apple’s commitment to health and wellness, with substantial evidence supporting the benefits of regular journaling. Secondly, your phone serves as an ideal platform for maintaining a journal in many respects, as it can automate certain aspects of the process.

Unlocking Memories: How Apple Journal Leverages Your Phone’s Insights

The central concept behind Apple Journal is that your phone has the capability to identify what Apple terms “moments.” It can analyze factors such as your location, the people you FaceTimed, the number of videos you captured, and various unique signals only accessible to your phone. Based on these details, it can be intelligently deduced that these are moments worth remembering and revisiting.

Your phone is the sole device aware of events like an hour-long phone call with your boyfriend followed by 11 consecutive Dashboard Confessional songs. It’s known that you achieved a personal marathon training record today and completed the run with a stunning view from a mountain’s summit.

With access to this wealth of information, Journal has the potential to connect the dots and encourage you not only to add these moments to your personal timeline but also to take a moment for reflection.

Apple remains somewhat secretive about its precise inner workings, which signals hold significance, and how it all comes together.

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