Keeping a journal is something many of us try to take up at the start of a new year, but it can be a hard habit to stick with. To make it a bit easier, you can keep a digital journal or diary with you wherever you go, and many are set up to encourage people to keep typing away day after day.
One interesting diary-writing app is Momento, a $1 app for iOS only. It connects to social media services like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—as well as other apps like Uber—to pull in daily activities and photos automatically. This creates an instant diary entry with almost no effort. The app also lets people make their own entries, called “moments”, and makes it easy to add photos.
You can tag photos with people’s names or a location and then browse back through the diary entries to see all the posts associated with that person or place. You can also search entries to locate a keyword.
Momento is easy to use and offers plenty of on-screen guidance to help manage its more complicated features (such as backing up diary entries to iCloud). The app can automatically prompt you to write a diary entry, and you can set up several reminders, each with its own prompt, like “Take a daily photo”.
You can share entries with family and friends by iMessage or in an email, or even share online with a bigger audience on Facebook or elsewhere.
Askt Life Journaling, which is free on Android devices via Amazon and $3 on iOS, has a slightly unusual take on keeping a journal. Each daily page in Askt’s archive is headlined with a question meant to spur your thoughts. The questions include “What have you learned from your mistakes?” and “Is this season peaceful or stressful?”
Writing an entry in Askt is straightforward: It has a large empty page where you can type and embed photographs. To look back through your writing, either swipe through the app’s pages (which are animated to resemble real pages being turned in a paper diary) or tap on the date to choose a specific day in the past. There is no search feature.
The bells and whistles in this app are limited to setting a daily reminder, choosing the colour scheme and exporting entries to a PDF file. I like this simplicity, which keeps my mind focused on the journal-writing task. Although Amazon offers the app free for Android devices, that version is supported by ads, and some features, like photo embedding, are disabled. Enabling the full set of features requires an in-app purchase.
Perhaps the best-known journal-writing app for iOS devices is Day One. Its many features and extras include weather data for your location when you write a journal entry, and the ability to add exercise data. When you have written about your day, you can choose to make the post available as a webpage. “Publishing” journal entries like this may be useful if, for example, you are keeping your family updated while travelling. Of course you can choose to keep your diary entries private and unpublished—even locked safely out of view behind a pass code if you prefer.
Day One has a clean, minimalist interface and is relatively easy to use. However, I found the app’s many features distracting as I tried to get my thoughts about the day out of my head and onto the page.
Day One also has an Apple Watch app, which lets you dictate a journal entry aloud or make a location check-in. Day One costs $1.
On Android, the free app Journey is similar to Day One. It has a sleek interface, the usual reminders and a passcode lock. Here, too, you can share entries privately or online. Two features stand out: You can see your location-tagged journal entries on a map, and you can choose among different fonts, which is a nice touch.
But it has a few quirks, such as allowing only one photo per diary entry. And while the app is free, you have to make a $6 in-app purchase if you want to export your journal.