Day One for iOS review: a simple, digital journal for life

Day One

My desk at the office is filled with notebooks of varying sizes, Post-its and scratch pads, all filled from top to bottom with notes and scribbled messages that I thought at some point needed remembering. Everything from calculations that I can’t do in my head (read: most calculations) to things I need to buy on my way home. Most of these, often illegible, ramblings have some sort of purpose and do end up being filed in other relevant notebooks, drawers or text files on my hard drive. It is in this manner that I handle the duties and responsibilities of what I am paid to do for a living, and it has worked very well for me, so far at least.

But as a large portion of my time goes to evangelizing about the benefits of digital solutions to everyday problems, I’ve started moving my work-based note storage away from the tangible world to Evernote which has helped me greatly in terms of productivity and efficiency. In other words, I’m no longer buried under a sea of little yellow squares, cursing because I can’t find my username and password for that account I opened yesterday.

The first day in

This got me thinking about my personal life and how I hardly record anything. Seriously though, I never take photos or write down thoughts or plans at all. If it doesn’t involve personal finance or important documents, I don’t record or file anything, I just never have. I decided to change that all up, and downloaded Day One while it was free during the App Store’s fifth birthday promotion.

Labelled as a simple way to journal, Day One immediately caught my attention. The beautifully designed, understated user interface is an absolute treat to look at, and the icon just begs for you to touch it and experience what lies beneath. Once I’d taken it all in, I got down to playing with it and testing out each and every feature on offer. The ultimate test though was if it could change my attitude towards personal journaling and help me become more efficient at remembering things I do outside of the office, so I setup some criteria.

First of all, I made it my mission to record at least one thing per day. Be it a thought, a photo or a summarized account of something I did during that day, it just had to be entered and saved in my new journal. Secondly, I had to stick to it. That’s all really.
And so I began.

Right off the bat I must say that Day One makes it very easy to stick to a journaling schedule. It allows you to schedule reminders on days that you need to write. Surprisingly, the tools available to you make it a real treat to actually use. I went from writing one sentence at the end of the day to having to edit and summarize my thoughts so that I didn’t end up with a full-blown autobiography. That’s probably more down to the fact that I have awakened a journaling monster inside myself but Day One definitely acted as an enabler.

What I like most about the app is the way it adds contextual data to your post; it automatically records the location of where you made the journal entry (great for travel journals) and can also add information about the weather to your entry, which (in the long run) could be used to track how the temperature affects your mood, or something like that.

Intuitive formatting options

For all you editing freaks out there (myself included), Day One allows you to add bold and italic formats, choose from various font styles, lets you create list formatted posts and even comes with the ability to tag posts with relevant keywords that can be used to group various posts around certain topics. The ability to add photos from your camera roll, as well as the Camera+ integration, adds a nice touch to your somewhat boring looking, text-based entries and I’ve made a point to include one photo for every post that I write.

Once you’re finished with a certain time-frame of journal entries (a week’s worth, for example), Day One allows you to export your entries to PDF, which could be great if you do decide to go and publish a collection of memoirs, otherwise you can just sync your posts with iCloud or DropBox, whatever works best for you. And of course, for those who like to keep their entries private, Day One does allow you to protect them with a four digit pass-code.

Day One seems pretty pricey from the onset, but once you start using it and testing out all the great features it has to offer, you’ll quickly discover that the US$4.99 is well worth it. Go ahead, download the universal app now (while it’s still free) and start recording your life.

Day One download icon

Click the icon to download Day One for iOS



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