App of the Week: Chat Journal is a beautiful diary, mood log and social media alternative

chat journal

In our series App of the Week, we showcase our favourite organised lines of code from the world of mobile and desktop computing. This week, we take a look at a social media replacement app that doubles up as a nifty diary — Chat Journal.

Keeping a journal is a therapeutic way to offload the world’s stresses from your shoulders, remember the important things in life, or to simply create something new. But building a blog or writing in a spotless book can be intimidating.

Chatting to your journal

Averting these issues entirely, Chat Journal takes the habit-creating traits of social media and neatly stuffs it into a journal app.

The app is a beautifully simple take on Material Design. Although not quite embracing Google’s design language, you’ll still find plenty of flat elements, multiple themes (including an AMOLED option), and accent colours to choose from.

chat journal

On initial setup, Chat Journal will ask you which facets of your life you wish to record. You can select more than one or none at all, but the app does highlight its usefulness here.

Chat Journal’s strengths

I have separate journals for work, the general happenings in my life, and any random ideas I may have. The apps’s clear to differentiate which journal you’re currently using in the heading bar, making it difficult to get confused. And separating your ideas prevents that feeling of trepidation associated with keeping a journal.

But if you’re a more advanced journal user, you may find Chat Journal’s entry system a bit too rudimentary.

chat journal

Inspired by social media and apps like WhatsApp, Chat Journal lets users input text into their journals in a chat-like, bite-sized format. This includes links and pictures too, which can be snapped in realtime or added from a gallery.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Never stop starting

While it is, I found using Chat Journal notably therapeutic. For writers (speaking from experience here), the worst part of starting any new project is actually starting. Chat Journal makes this step a lot less daunting.

But, if you still can’t find the courage to start, Chat Journal has a “Questionnaire Bot” — a rudimentary chat bot that asks questions about your day. The developer notes that the ultimate goal is to graduate the Bot into “an actual chatbot that can chat with you like your friend”.

Mood and activity tracking

Initially, the app lacked a mood tracking mechanic, but the newer versions let you plot your mood progression under the “daily” tab. You can then view it on your “timeline” alongside every other entry you made that day (you can also exclude pages from your timeline).

You can also assign labels to entries, which allows you to chart the activities you’ve enjoyed on that day with entered text. Chat Journal also asks you questions about your day, and these you can tweak or delete or add additional queries. There’s a mood tracking feature too, which doesn’t neccessarily correlate with diary entries. But, iot does allow users to view and chart mood progression over time.

  chat journal

Chat Journal also features redundancy for data backup nuts. Make a local backup, or upload your data to Google Drive to keep it safe. Chats you’re not longer maintaining can be archived, which turns it into a more detailed note taking app.

Additionally, the app also features access protection by way of a PIN number or your fingerprint. It’s perfect for the prying eyes of a little brother or nosey friend.

Hits, misses and absences

No app is perfect, and Chat Journal does have its glaring issues.

There are only two typeface options within the customisation section and it’s a choice between the default and Roboto mono. There’s no option to use your phone’s default font for UI elements.

For people who prefer taking notes via audio snippets, there’s no option for that unfortunately. Video would also be a welcome option and cement it as a true Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook repacement.

The developer

Chat Journal receives updates at a fairly brisk pace. The developer, Agile Telescope based in Bengaluru, India, first posted the app to Reddit about 100 days ago. It’s new, it’s fresh, and it does have its issues.

But it’s current set of features gives it a familiarity and uniqueness that I’ve been looking for in a diary/mood tracking/note tacking app.

TL;DR: Chat Journal is the perfect way to wean yourself off social media through its unique chat entry system. Although it’s a diary app, it’s also a mood logger, idea recorder and note taker. That alone may overwhelm those looking for a simple text journal, but the app’s definitely worth a download for those serious about their ideas.

Feature image: Andy Walker/Memeburn

Andy Walker
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