How many diary-worthy moments are there in your day?
Life may not have so many highlight moments that can be compared to outsiders. Writing a diary is a self-oriented work, a history book written for oneself, finding order from chaos, salvaging difference from mediocrity, and confronting Ebbinghao. The forgetting curve.
In June this year, Apple officially announced a new native app: Journal at the Developer Conference. As the name suggests, this is a digital diary that uses your phone as pen and paper.
▲ Picture from: Apple
At the end of October, Journal finally appeared in the iOS 17.2 developer beta. Just after updating the system, it appears on the home screen, waiting for the user to unblock it.
Paper notes, social media, and third-party diary software can all be used to record life, but Apple's own "digital diary" is still a little different.
Intuitive three-dimensional canvas, a life manual of casual thoughts
When I opened Journal for the first time, my impression of it was that it was "intuitive". The "+" sign at the bottom is a silent reminder that it's time to break the blank canvas and start writing something.
What makes me insist on using it for several days without interruption is actually the simplicity of Journal – not many functions but enough, and the workload is not much different from writing in Moments or Weibo.
You can only enter text in your notes. If there are fragments that you want to save while reading, you can also scan the text and save it. At most, you can adjust a few formats such as bold and underline.
Compared with paper diaries, digital diaries contain richer details and present three-dimensional dimensions that cannot be conveyed on paper. Locate a location, select album photos, take photos or record in real time… These features of Journal are practical and easy to use, and what you see is what you get.
In addition, Journal currently does not have any templates, tagging and other functions of third-party diary applications. In doing so, it also lowers my mental threshold, like another handy memo.
Most of my life consists of journals. I am used to using Journal to record three meals a day, evening exercises, weekend outings and gatherings with friends, and even just fleeting moods. The focus is on eating, drinking, having fun, food, clothing, housing, and transportation, and doing whatever you want without breaking the rules.
It doesn't necessarily mean anything. As long as it's something that really happened in a day, you can actually write it down for yourself. These are personal experiences that cannot be replicated, stitch by stitch, weaving the texture of life.
Diaries are personal histories, and time is an indispensable element. The default time of the diary is the day when the diary is created, but you can also change the date to the time when the event occurred, or completely customize it, even if it is a day in the future.
The time of photos, videos and other content will not change accordingly. Clicking on a certain memo to recall the past and seeing the shooting time is equivalent to stamping the memory.
However, notes do not have to be drawn from offline life. When using other apps, as long as the page has a "share sheet" function, you can share it in Journal.
For example, after sharing a certain report by Ai Faner to Journal, the link and title will appear by default, which is very suitable for writing a few sentences after reading the article.
An exercise completed in keep, an inspiration typed in a memo, and a song listened to on Apple Music can also be recorded in the book.
At this time, the Journal has become my journal record, a manual for working and fishing, and a collection box for fragmented information. There is neither the careful consideration of words in the circle of friends nor the hard work of long articles. Random thoughts are the basis of life.
Similar to taking notes, looking through the notes is also simple and intuitive.
Compared with third-party diary applications, Journal does not have "today of that year", cannot search by a custom label, and cannot select a certain day to review in the calendar view.
The only way to browse the Journal is to scroll through it in chronological order, and use the simple filter function. If you think a note is particularly important, just swipe right to add a "bookmark" and dream back to the middle school days when you put sticky notes in your notebook.
Fragmented important moments, understand your digital diary
"What should I write?"
The "blank document phobia" of being unable to type the first line of words may discourage many people from writing a diary. But I have not encountered this problem when using Journal.
It’s not that my life is particularly interesting, but that Journal’s most powerful and interesting function—“Note Suggestions”—automatically sorts out certain important moments, which means you have a first draft when you start writing, so you don’t have to worry about writing a diary. Become a burden to rack your brains.
I like to look through the "Recently Visited" page the most, because Journal will give very specific personalized suggestions here based on recent activities, and even integrate materials, such as the music and podcasts I listened to yesterday, and the content I completed this morning. The walk and the song I was listening to at the time.
Once the materials are ready, click the "Pen" in the lower right corner to start editing, or directly generate notes as they are, or delete, delete, and subtract to avoid duplication detection with 100% accuracy.
The "Recommended" page next to it is somewhat similar to "Recent Visits" and can also automatically review a certain period in the past when taking photos, listening to music, making phone calls, etc. If you set up a schedule in the iPhone's "Calendar" app and use the "Maps" app to navigate, the places you've visited and your location may also appear here.
Apple has not made the operating mechanism of "recommendation" public, but from actual experience, frequent use of other Apple native apps will generally attract Journal's attention. To a certain extent, Journal is like our "daily note" for using the iOS system, providing algorithm-based integration.
In addition, "Recommendations" will also initiate some positive "review" topics, and each topic card can be refreshed several times. There is always something that can open up writing ideas, but the tone is a bit like ChatGPT.
The above personalized recommendations will continue to accumulate and update over time. When we start using Journal, it will start to generate tailored recommendations based on the user's recent activities through device-side machine learning.
Journal is so smart that the secret is hidden in "Settings". We can control what data it uses (exercises, music, photos, locations, contacts, etc.), or turn off all these switches and do it exactly as we want.
Not only is it suitable for native apps, Apple also provides a note suggestion API for developers of third-party diary applications, so that these applications can also introduce personalized suggestions from Journal.
The recommendation of Journal actually reminded me that life is a fragmented, three-dimensional, and multi-media collection, and people may do many things at the same time.
For example, when we were walking in the park wearing an Apple Watch and listening to podcasts, a cat walking towards us made us turn on the camera. Afterwards, Journal suggested that we process photos, positioning, podcasts and other content into a note, and only need to add additional text.
▲ Picture from: Apple
If mobile phones are the personal devices that know us best, then Journal may be the diary app that knows us best. It knows where we have been, who we have called, how many photos we have taken, how much exercise we have done, and what music we have listened to. and infer which parts we might want to revisit.
The same is true for third-party digital diaries such as Day One, which record not a single abstract person, but our interactions with the things around us. Scroll down a Day One article and you will find other things that are happening while writing the diary – the place you are, the song you are listening to, the status of your activities, the number of steps you count, and even the weather and moon phases.
▲ Picture from: Day One screenshot
Automatically recording the details of the environment in every detail best reflects the advantages of "digital diary". A good diary application should make it more convenient for users to record at any time, and at the same time establish a personalized coordinate system that is inaccessible to paper diaries.
While teaching you how to write a diary, Journal follows Apple's long-standing principles, with special emphasis on privacy and security. Note recommendations are generated on the iPhone through device-side processing technology, and we control what type of data is included. Notes can also be synchronized with iCloud, ensuring end-to-end encryption. Your notes are only in your hands, not even Apple can read them.
Apple also knows that diaries are personal privacy, and what they fear most is being viewed at will by others. Diaries with password locks were popular in elementary school. Journal, a digital diary, can be locked with a device password or face ID. No matter what form it is, a diary should be like the title of Woolf's book, "a room that belongs only to oneself."
Simplicity is also a choice, making journaling easier to become a habit
When third-party diary applications have matured, why would Apple launch a diary app that seems to be insignificant?
Health is an area that Apple attaches great importance to, and it is also a promising market. Apple Watch and apps such as "Fitness" and "Health" actually help users detect, track and manage all aspects of daily life.
I often use Apple’s “Health” app to record momentary emotions and daily moods, and fill in relevant influencing factors, as if writing a minimalist diary.
If you extend the dimension to a month, you will find that emotions are like a pendulum. Due to the effects of "external forces" such as weather, sleep, and exercise, they swing between "somewhat unpleasant", "neither sad nor happy", and "somewhat happy", and the overall balance is maintained. "Conservation of energy".
▲ Picture from: "Health" screenshot
Knowing how and why emotions fluctuate gives you a sense of more control over your life. The same is true for writing a diary. Journal, which emerged halfway, is more like contributing to Apple's health business, learning user-authorized data, and making us more aware of the dynamics of daily life.
Of course, the songs you listen to cannot represent you. They only reflect a certain state at a certain moment. Just like Journal cannot cover all the important moments you think, it only gives possible judgments based on data. People are still the protagonists of diaries, and the point of writing diaries is to express and reflect on oneself.
Currently, Journal is only an iPhone app and cannot be used on Mac and iPad. There is no guarantee of what the future will bring. Since the iPhone is a personal device that we live with day and night, perhaps we can understand Apple's start with Journal.
I often jot down notes on my iPhone while commuting or while eating, fearing that a sudden idea will suddenly disappear.
The lightweight Journal is also easy to use and combats the degradation of memory capabilities. The collection of photos, videos, music and other content allows us to relive certain precious moments, just like the "Memory" function in Apple's photo album, which creates a sense of ritual for ordinary life.
▲ Picture from: Album "Memories"
Compared with mature third-party diary applications such as Day One, Journal currently does not have many basic functions and has even less room for customization. But simplicity is also an option. Journal already has the core functions of taking pictures, recording, positioning, etc. Moreover, it is free, unlike some applications that require a premium version subscription to add voice, video and other content.
If compared with social media, Journal is a better "emotional trash can". I haven’t posted much in my WeChat Moments since I graduated. It’s easy to make mistakes in grouping, and I have to wear the mask of tranquility over time. After using Journal, I am less likely to "go crazy" on social media. Emo literature is certainly pretentious, and Weibo's "visitor records" are even more suffocating.
As the saying goes, "I reflect on myself three times a day," a short diary that is easier to stick to may be better than a long diary that takes three days to fish and two days to surf the web. If you feel that your memory is not good, you can "set" a timer and let Journal remind you to record the current moment.
Fixed push reminders can interrupt chaotic thoughts at a certain moment, force our minds to quiet down, get used to thinking about the people and things we have experienced in a day, and understand what kind of life we are living.
Journal is simple, convenient, and smart, but it is only in its primary form and still has a long way to go. If you have never had the habit of writing a diary, you might as well spend a few more minutes every day and try to use Journal to open the door to a new world.
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