On Monday, Apple introduced a new journal app for iPhones as part of the iOS 17.2 update. This app, called Journal, uses Apple’s Siri to smartly recommend topics for you to write about. For instance, it could suggest writing about the music you listened to or logging your appointments and workouts for the day.
This Journal app shows how Apple keeps adding fresh features to iPhones each year. They do this to safeguard their iPhone brand from competition, especially from Google’s Android and other phone manufacturers.
The iPhone remains Apple’s most crucial product, contributing $205 billion to its sales in fiscal 2023, making up around 52% of the company’s total sales. As Apple continues to integrate everyday features like its credit card, app store, and iMessage service, it becomes increasingly challenging for users to switch to a different phone brand or operating system.
The Journal app exemplifies Apple’s AI strategy. Apple’s AI technology, like the one powering the Journal app, operates on the device itself rather than on an external server in the cloud. This approach enhances privacy, especially for sensitive information like health data or travel plans, in contrast to Google’s and Microsoft’s cloud-based methods. Apple also prefers the term “machine learning” over “AI” in its marketing.
How the Journal App Works
The Journal app from Apple is straightforward. I’ve been trying it out on a beta version of iOS for a month. When you open the app protected by Apple’s FaceID you’ll see a screen displaying your entries and a single “+” button.
Clicking the plus button allows you to create a new entry. Initially, it appears as a regular text box, similar to Apple’s Notes. You can jot down your thoughts, include a photo or images you’ve captured, record audio, or even mark your location using Apple Maps. The app automatically adds a timestamp to each post.
Once you’ve added multiple entries, the main page of the app displays your past entries, allowing you to review and edit them. You can sort your previous entries based on whether they include a photo, an activity, or are tagged with a specific location. It’s important to note that journal entries are kept solely within your Journal app and are not shared publicly.
The machine learning aspect comes into play under the magic wand icon, also known as the “moments menu.” When you select the magic wand icon, it suggests topics to write about based on the information it gathers from your phone, such as the music you were listening to or your location at a specific time.
As an illustration, when I clicked on the moments tab on Monday, it recommended that I write about a recent vacation. It displayed a map of my location, details about the hikes I took during the trip, the music I listened to, and photos I captured while there. In one entry, I recorded the sound of crashing waves to capture the moment. However, the app didn’t recognize that I had already thoroughly documented that vacation within the Journal app.
Improving Apple’s Journal App, Features and Future Plans
The Journal app utilizes push notifications to encourage users. It frequently sends notifications when it detects that you’ve engaged in an activity worth reflecting on. For instance, I recently had to hurry to catch a ferry. My watch recorded it as a walking workout, and I was listening to music at the time. Journaling about workouts could be particularly beneficial for individuals training for marathons or other athletic goals.
Additionally, the Journal app prompted me with notifications, asking if I wanted to write about the experience. On some days, the app’s notifications simply invite you to reflect on your day. Apple has also incorporated various prompts intended to inspire reflection, like “Make an audio recording of your surroundings” or “Write about what you notice.”
Currently, Apple’s Journal app is simple. Everything it offers, aside from suggestions, could be accomplished with a traditional paper journal or even a page in Apple’s Notes app. However, the unique suggestions and integration with Apple’s other services distinguish it from less technologically advanced methods. This underscores how Apple’s combination of hardware and software enables it to understand what matters in your life without storing your data on its servers.
Apple is extending its machine learning model, which predicts user preferences, to other apps through a programming interface. This implies that other apps could leverage Apple’s AI capabilities.
To become a staple in most people’s daily routines, Apple must enhance the Journal app. It would be more beneficial if the app could automatically populate more details in an entry, particularly those based on photos or other activities. Presently, there’s no export function, limiting the Journal app’s potential as a comprehensive platform for gathering thoughts and ideas that might be published in the future.
How to Get the Journal App on Your iPhone
The Journal app is accessible in iOS 17.2, and you can install it on recent iPhones. Follow these steps:
- Open Settings.
- Tap General.
- Select Software Update
In iOS 17.2, you might discover additional features. The update allows you to change the default alert sound, introduces sticker reactions in iMessage, and incorporates a machine learning feature that blurs potentially explicit content, such as nudity, in photos and other shared material.
Apple’s new Journal app in iOS 17.2 aims to make daily reflections easy. Though it’s basic now, there’s room for improvement. If Apple adds features like automatic entry completion and an export function, the app could become a go-to for organizing thoughts. Its unique features and privacy-focused AI make it stand out. Continuous innovation is key for Apple to stay on top in the smartphone market.”