Journaling has, to some, become a relic; an item of the past which is no longer relevant. With children of the Facebook age growing farther apart from textile books, writing a diary has become a lost art. People now prefer to use Facebook (or Twitter) as their journal of everything that takes place in their life. It’s understandable since you can share all of the activity there with your friends, but what about all those private things and thoughts you’ve had throughout the day? What, are you going to Tweet them or something? No, I have a better idea.
iPads are great for almost anything and, if you’re comfortable with typing on one, why not use it for journaling as well? Bloom Built’s Day One is by far the best solution to this. Our own Nathaniel Mott reviewed this app last November, giving it a 9/10 for outstanding design and the many handy features. Now, nearly a year later, the developer has added some great new key features like photos, geotagging, weather and Foursquare check-ins. I’m going to take a look at the new features after the break, so why don’t you join me?
Add Photos to Your Journal
Most people take photos with their iPhone or iPad and save them to Photo Stream or merely forget about their existence in the camera roll. After that, the photographer forgets that he took said pictures and ends up finding them weeks, or even months, later, buried under the rest of his videos, screenshots and other rubbish. IPhoto for iOS brought a good way to keep things organized with photo journals however, and it seemed like Day One was pushed down to a new low since there was no way to add a photo to an entry.
I found one minor annoyance in the iPad app: there’s a multi-second lag between entering your passcode and being granted access to the main interface. This only happens if you use a passcode lock.
That can be said no more thanks to version 1.8 of Day One. Released August 2nd, this update brings full support for photo journaling. Now, instead of just having one + button in the main screen, the app has a photo button as well. Tap it and you’ll be asked whether you’d like to take a picture or choose one that’s already in your library.
The photo feature is limited to one per entry, which can be a disappointment to some. I’ve found it to be sufficient, however.
My favorite feature about photo journaling in Day One is that you can add old images and it will ask you if you’d like to use the date it was created for the entry. This was a nifty thing to include as it gives you the ability to add older photos that you’ve taken on notable trips without the need for time travel. I used it to add a bunch of old holidays to my timeline, bringing back a few memories here and there.
Before I leave the photo section, I’d like to note that there are no filters to spice things up. That means those of you who want to use this as a private alternative to Instagram will have to get a third-party editor to tweak things first. I suggest Snapseed — it’s my favorite app for this sort of thing and it offers more than average filters. Hopefully the developer of Day One will include a filtering/editing function in the next update to simplify things.
What’s that? You’re breaking up — are you traveling? I suggest telling your journal all about it, including the actual location. In the latest version of Day One, you can log the exact location that you are writing the entry. I’m personally not big on sharing my location over Facebook or Twitter, but it’s a great idea for Day One. Then I don’t have to mention where I am, unless the actual location is an insignificant landmark like the local coffee shop.
Ay Matey, What Be the Weather?
One could induce that he is drinking hot chocolate whilst writing a journal entry because of the cold, but would that be entirely true? Well, not really, since I personally drink it a few days a week and it gets near 90º fahrenheit. To avoid confusion, you can now add the current outdoor conditions to your entry. Just tap the little weather icon next to the location on the toolbar to add weather from your particular spot. To make sure things are current, you can always tap it again and then tap Get Weather. Alternatively, Remove Weather will detach all climate information from your entry.
Other Iotas of Interest
Day One 1.8 adds a bunch of new features, but many of them are minor compared to the ones that I’ve already mentioned. Markdown support, for instance, has been greatly improved. The developer added an Edit Bar to maximize the on-screen buttons when writing an entry. It functions much like Byword and, for users who dislike typing code and enjoy rich text with buttons, works much better than needing to type the Markdown syntax.
On that note, the Edit Bar also includes a word and character count if you swipe it to the left twice. I’m not so sure basic users need this so much as it’s just a fun thing to have. I, for one, will not be using it at all since there’s really no reason to monitor how long my journal entires are. They’re arbitrary notes of my cerebral cortex; nothing special at that. Why would I care how long they end up?
Dropbox sync is much faster and more stable than it was before, so give it a try as an alternative to iCloud.
Moving on to other insignificant features mentioned in the official list of changes, a handy one is the swipe-over-entry gesture. You remember Twitter for iPhone, right? Everyone that’s ever used it loves the Tweet swipe-over feature that presents options such as reply, retweet, etc. It’s useful for those who want to quickly perform an action, as opposed to tapping the Tweet to do so. Day One has adopted this gesture for journal entries. You can now swipe over one to reveal a five-option menu including a favorite button, the date picker, an edit button, a delete button and a share sheet for distributing your listing to various destinations ‘round The Web.
Lastly, there’s a little indicator for an entry that’s currently uploading or downloading. It’ll let you know how many new entries are being uploaded/downloaded and also appears while you’re writing one. I’ve found this helpful as an alternative to the spinning WiFi indicator in the status bar.
I’m Using This Instead of Twitter
In past months, I’ve been trying to limit my Twitter usage. To do that, I had to find somewhere else to put my thoughts. “Why not Day One?” I mused. After a few weeks of getting used to the routine and turning on the menu bar functionality on my Mac, I started journaling daily — hourly, at that. It’s been good for me and I urge anyone else who talks too much on any social network to do the same. Then, read those older entries and find out what’s going on in that head of yours.
Whether you journal daily or on occasion, Day One is the best app to do so with. My one suggestion is alphanumerical passcode support for better security against nosy siblings and coworkers.