iOS 17.2 brings Journal to the iPhone and reminds me I am terrible at journaling

journaling
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I tried, I swear I tried to become a journaler, but despite having access to Apple's new Journal App for almost two months, I could only muster a handful of entries. I failed, but perhaps you'll have better luck when you update to iOS 17.2 on your best iPhone and open Apple's inviting journaling app.

My four entries, which I'll share below, are all the evidence you need to understand how ill-equipped I am to become a journaler. There is nothing wrong with keeping a journal. For some, it's a necessary outlet, a way to digest a hectic day and find peace and calm.

One of my good friends has been journaling since he was a teen and still does it every single day. It's one of the reasons he has an almost photographic memory of his life. Meanwhile, I've been a writer – a journalist – for just as long and yet I find journaling unnatural and performative. Every time I start writing an entry I feel completely self-conscious.

Still, with all of Apple's new Journal tools at my disposal, I thought I might feel different, maybe even inspired. The power of journaling on an iPhone is that it has access to everything else you were doing on the phone, which means Journal entries can be far richer, offering a more complete view of your life at that moment.

Right now, for instance, Journal knows I listened to the SmartLess podcast. I liked the Emma Stone interview. Don't I have thoughts about it?

Of course, I do, but I don't see a need to write them down.

Maybe I want to write something brief about the lovely walk I took with my wife on November 25. But we said everything we wanted to say to each other. Do I need to chronicle that or add something that's just for me?

This photo of a sunflower that I took a few months ago should inspire some missive about the beauty and frailty of life ... alas, it does not.

I must have thoughts about my functional training workout on November 21. But I don't, nothing more than, "I really don't want to do this again". Is that worthy of an entry? Surely not.

Apple Journal screens

A look at my Journal entries and some of Apple's Journal's screens. (Image credit: Future)

Journal tries hard with prompts like "Write about someone from your childhood you wish you could go back and thank." This one gave me a private chuckle since 99% of the people I knew when I was a kid were bullies. I offer them no thanks and have nothing I want to write about any of them.

Not being able to Journal makes me feel like a bit of a failure (perhaps I could journal about that). I'm a writer for God's sake, it should be easy to just spit something out every day.

When I was 18, I decided to start journaling because I thought it would help me achieve my goal of becoming a journalist. I lasted less than a week. That didn't stop me from having a 37-year career as a writer and editor, but that early defeat always makes me wonder about my commitment. I bet 'real' writers can journal with ease.

For now, Apple's new Journal app is a reminder of my failure but it shouldn't stop you. There are, I am certain, many potential journalers out there just waiting for the right platform. Apple's Journal App may be it. I can imagine worse places to put your private thoughts.

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Lance Ulanoff
US Editor in Chief

A 35-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 PCMag.com 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, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.