We saw a landslide of updates, additions, and launches at WWDC 2023. Still, one of the more compelling lifestyle additions to iOS 17 is what kept me up last night.
Journal, to me, is the epitome of Apple's genius on full display, meshing everyday phone usage with wellness, creating seamless connections between apps – and perhaps, even tapping into humanity's near-desperate urge to share in our social media-driven world.
Currently, there's been no mention of the app allowing you to share or publish your Journal entries; in fact, Apple was far more interested in reassuring us of how private and personal Journal will be thanks to end-to-end encryption and on-device processing.
In my view, though, Apple has a momentous opportunity here to completely disrupt the microblogging space; if not, at least, it might inspire somebody else to.
If the shoe fits, wear it
This new Journal app also isn't a massive surprise, with rumors abuzz since April, and journaling apps are by no means unique to app stores, whether on Apple devices or some of the other best phones and best tablets.
Having an app like this built-in to the iPhone, however, may inspire more people to take up journaling as an outlet, which was found to reduce stress in a 2018 study from The Pennsylvania State University. Plus, the app genuinely does look unique, certainly in how it stands to capitalize on Apple's other applications and features. Journal, it seems, could finally marry the gap between pen-and-paper journaling and digital software alternatives.
In addition to logging your thoughts and activities per all forms of journalling, the app will use on-device machine learning to create personalized prompts, referring to recent activity on your iPhone from photos to workouts and location data – fantastic for those of us that struggle with writer's block. It's also a smart addition to Apple's growing health and wellness app library, offering the opportunity to add commentary to your well-being tracking.
With this wealth of features, a visually appealing aesthetic, and the current state of the social media landscape, it feels like the only thing missing is the ability to share content – even if only with friends and family, for now.
Sites like Twitter and Tumblr thrived in years gone by for providing people the platform to express their day-to-day thoughts, interests, and feelings, often in bite-size or multimedia posts. Much like some of the best blogging sites, the popularity of the medium has fizzled over time, and many platforms have transitioned to focusing on very specific audiences and use cases.
Whether it's nostalgia or the fact that my handwriting is too bad for pen-and-paper journaling, I miss the old days of blogging. All I could think while watching WWDC's Journal showcase was how cool it would be if someday, I could quickly pull together a shareable journal or blog entry using photos and user data visualized into beautiful graphics, express my thoughts, and then share to my Instagram story a neat little package of content.
Apple might even make it a gated service only for those using Apple devices a la iMessage, which capitalizes on software FOMO (fear of missing out) to drive up sales – though of course, my preference would be it creates something non-exclusive.
If you smell what The Fruit is cooking
There's a perfectly legitimate argument that what Apple is really doing here is another example of the "Sherlocking" phenomenon it's become pretty notorious for over the years, where Apple launches features that obviate the presence of popular third-party apps or add-ons, highlighted by the DoJ escalating an antitrust probe against the company following fears of anti-competitive behavior.
Personally, I love the fact Journal will integrate so seamlessly with other iOS apps and the Apple aesthetic, but it speaks to a potentially bleak future for apps such as Day One, which recently addressed the rumors of Apple Journal in a blog post.
The app's founder, Paul Mayne, highlights the news as an opportunity for Day One to differentiate itself – and interestingly enough, mentions shareable journals as one way the team hopes to do so.
This is the kind of competition we should be vying for, realistically; but Apple has ringfenced so many of its own apps in a way that makes it nigh-on impossible for anyone but them to do what they're doing with Journal.
It's worth mentioning Apple did say it'll be offering an API for developers that will allow them to leverage Journal's personalized writing suggestions in their own apps, but it's unclear what the scope of this is as of yet.
For better or for worst, if the key features in Journal are appealing to you, you'll be hard-pressed to find it anywhere else, and despite my better judgment and fears of anti-competition, I can see an exciting future ahead for modern-day journaling if Apple gets this right.
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Josephine Watson (@JosieWatson) is TechRadar's Managing Editor - Lifestyle. Josephine has previously written on a variety of topics, from pop culture to gaming and even the energy industry, joining TechRadar to support general site management. She is a smart home nerd, as well as an advocate for internet safety and education, and has also made a point of using her position to fight for progression in the treatment of diversity and inclusion, mental health, and neurodiversity in corporate settings. Generally, you'll find her watching Disney movies, playing on her Switch, or showing people pictures of her cats, Mr. Smith and Heady.