Apple's Journal app moves closer to capturing all your musings and now has its own API

Apple Journal
(Image credit: Future / Apple)

Apple is one step closer to turning your best iPhone into your favorite journaling tool or digital diary. The long-awaited Journal app, which Apple announced at WWDC 2023 in June of this year is now showing up in iOS 17.2 Developer Beta. This means it could arrive as a public beta and then full release in a matter of weeks.

Journal is exactly what it sounds like, a simple app (yes, it gets its own icon), that lets you record your everyday thoughts as text, photos, videos, or even audio. However, Apple is taking the art of journaling a bit further, making entry ideation intrinsic to your iPhone.

With iOS 17.2, the iPhone will suggest Journal entries, basically, photos, videos, and other details that are based on activities from your iPhone. This can include but is not exclusive to calls, workouts, travel, shopping, and locations. Many of the things that happen on your phone can appear in these suggestions.

Interestingly, the suggestion screen is not part of Journal. Suggestions only become part of the Journal app when you add them. Apple's idea here, apparently, is to make Journal a rather tightly controlled information experience. The suggestions don't live in Journal so they do not inadvertently become part of your journal.

Screenshot showing the features available through Journal

(Image credit: Apple)

A Journal API

Putting suggestions outside the app adds another interesting wrinkle. As of today, Apple announced that it's launching a Journal Suggestions API, which will mean third-party journal apps (say, Day One or Daylio) can let you use suggestions to add journal entries to their apps.

Everything about Apple's Journal app screams privacy. The app can be locked separately from the phone using all your usual security strategies (Face ID, Touch ID, passcode) so that someone who has access to your phone cannot also access your Journal. When the phone is backed up to iCloud, the Journal is fully encrypted and inaccessible to even Apple.

Apple wants to make it as easy as possible to Journal, which is why the interface is so spare, but also why you can set up reminders so journaling becomes a habit. To that end, Apple is also adding Journal to Share sheets so when in, say, Safari or Photos, you can share the image or web page directly to a new Journal entry. Interestingly, the photo and video shares create content duplicates. Any edits you make to the original photos and video will not show up in the associated journal entry.

Finding thoughts

Journal does not sound like the most searchable platform. There's no keyword search, just a rough set of filters that can let you see, for instance, all your bookmarked Journal entries. Even the audio recordings aren't transcribed so you can't search inside them. My guess is that most of the time you'll be scrolling through your Apple Journal entries in chronological order in much the same way you might page back through your old diary.

And if you're stuck for a good Journal entry, Journal can prime the pump with quick prompts. Now try that with an old-school paper journal.

We don't have a timetable for when Journal and iOS 17.2 will arrive on the iPhone but if you're desperate to see it now, you can install the developer beta on your iPhone 15 (though we'd recommend at least waiting for the public beta, whenever that arrives).

Lance Ulanoff
Editor At Large

A 38-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.