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 this year, now appears in iOS 17.2 Developer Beta. This means it could arrive as a public beta and then be fully released within weeks.
Journal is exactly what it sounds like: a simple app (yes, it gets its own icon) that lets you record your daily thoughts as text, photos, videos, or even audio. However, Apple takes the art of journaling one step further, making entry ideas an inherent part of your iPhone.
With iOS 17.2, the iPhone will suggest journal entries, which are basically photos, videos, and other details based on your iPhone’s activities. This includes, but is not exclusive to, conversations, training, travel, shopping and locations. Many of the things that happen on your phone could be in these suggestions.
Interestingly enough, the suggestion screen is not part of Journal. Suggestions don’t become part of the Journal app until you add them. Apple’s idea here is apparently to make Journal a rather tightly controlled information experience. The suggestions are not in Journal and so do not accidentally become part of your journal.
A diary API
Putting suggestions outside the app creates another interesting wrinkle. Starting today, Apple announced that it’s launching a Journal Suggestions API, which means third-party journal apps (e.g. 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 anyone who has access to your phone can’t also access your Journal. When the phone is backed up to iCloud, the Journal is completely encrypted and inaccessible even to Apple.
Apple wants to make journaling as easy as possible, which is why the interface is so clear, but also why you can set reminders so that keeping a diary becomes a habit. To that end, Apple is also adding Journal to Share sheets, so you can share the image or web page directly with a new Journal item in Safari or Photos, for example. Interestingly, the shared photos and videos create content duplicates. Any edits you make to the original photos and videos will not be reflected in the corresponding journal entry.
Journal doesn’t sound like the most searchable platform. There’s no keyword search, just a rough set of filters that let you see, for example, all your journal entries that you’ve bookmarked. Even the audio recordings aren’t transcribed, so you can’t search them. I’m guessing you spend most of the time scrolling through your Apple Journal entries in chronological order, in much the same way you flip back through your old journal.
And if you can’t find a good Journal entry, Journal can prime the pump with quick prompts. Now try that with an old-fashioned paper diary.
We don’t have a timetable for when Journal and iOS 17.2 will arrive on iPhone, but if you’re keen to see it now, you can install the developer beta on your iPhone 15 (although we’d recommend waiting for the release at least). public beta, when it arrives).