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« Blogging: as a technology and lifestyle | Main | Integrating iOS Technology »
Tuesday
Apr192011

Day One Journal, no nonsense.

This app is cool. At $0.99 USD, it’s hard to complain about price. (The same cannot be said for the desktop version, however, at $9.99) DAY ONE (journal) for iPhone is a strong example of a straightforward app uncomplicated by features.

But what about Momento?

How can I not mention Momento? After all, I featured it on this blog. Both are currently iPhone only (as iOS devices go). The two do differ, however. Momento could do everything that Day One does, but it’s not really built for just that. Momento is about capturing feeds and tagging posts; organizing a complex weave of photos, tweets, status updates and memos. Day One doesn’t do photos. It doesn’t do tagging, either. It doesn’t have these things… on purpose. What it does, it does so well; it keeps track of lightweight journal posts and quick thoughts, timestamps them, keeps track of particular favorites, and syncs it all with Dropbox. The app syncs with the expensive desktop version (I don’t understand the ten dollar Mac app price tag — at all. Come on, $4.99 tops, more like $2.99 and it’d be a super app), for those crazy enough to buy it. Momento does offer backups and exporting, but it isn’t super clean and automatic. The (current) lack of a desktop counterpart makes the exports fairly useless, too. Momento is like a personal status archive. Day One is a journal.

What else…

DAY ONE is beautiful. Look at it; it’s stunning. It’s compelling; it makes writing easy, and it never feels clunky. I think that the app could use text markup, specifically bold, italics, strikethrough, but even without, why wouldn’t you use it. Day One journal app is perfect for beginner journal-keepers; paper journals can be daunting for newcomers and anyone who hasn’t actually finished a journal cover-to-cover, and this semi-safe little thing is a perfect tool to capture quick thoughts during downtime. To truly take advantage of its plain text self, Day One can be used with Dragon Dictation: on the go, thoughts can be verbalized, transformed to text, copied, and pasted into Day One with a few taps. Granted, a perfect integration this isn’t, but it’s not that bad. The lack of tagging and feeds is a good thing, I think… at least for some people — maybe most people. Integrating text and images from outside sources can mean clutter, and tagging just isn’t necessary for everyone. The tedium of tagging can be a turn-off; it isn’t useful if it’s only done sometimes, and to tag every single quick post just doesn’t seem (or feel) practical in the real world. Dropbox syncing is a far more practical feature. [If you don’t have a Dropbox account, make one NOW] Entries are therefore self-archiving, and the plain text can then be used wherever with simple copy/paste. Rich text would be neat, but it isn’t always better. Adding some kind of markup could mean loss of flexibility; some apps/websites/tools prefer HTML, some use Textile.

Closing thoughts; Bradtastic Approved?

My recommendation is this: BRADTASTIC APPROVED. If you aren’t currently using a journal app, get Day One (Journal). Even if you do have something else, at $0.99 for an iOS app, the risk is small. Play around with it for a while before investing in the desktop app. I was hesitant of this app at first; I thought (and still believe) that the desktop app was overpriced, that it lacked value, and that there were numerous alternatives. Now that I have it, it’s hard to regret. I see this as a replacement for the now defunct IdeaPad app by Glowfilter. [I have no idea why IdeaPad was removed from the App Store; a copyright issue, maybe, because of the name?] Day One is clean and fast; 2.4mb and four dollars cheaper than Macjournal for iPhone. It’s also better looking by far. [and I actually really like Mariner Software in general] Keeping a daily journal is one of the best simple things anyone can do. Too often, people make excuses — “I don’t have time,” • “I’m not good at writing.” Those are decent reasons not to blog, but this journal can stay private. It’s straightforward and isn’t intimidating. I’ve never had someone I’ve recommended journaling to ever tell me they’ve regretted it, or that it was a bad idea. I do hear about a lot of false starts, however, and I think Day One is a decent countermeasure. [AND: Maybe my unendorsed glowing (fair and honest) review will convince the developers to give me a copy of the desktop app to try!]

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Reader Comments (10)

I'd love to have read this post but your overuse of multiple fonts makes it too hard on the eyes. Bit like mixing 50 kinds of paint; you end up with a grey mess nobody wants to look at.

August 2, 2011 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterEdan

There are only three; I'm still fixing it. I'm sorry you don't like it. It's nowhere near a hostage letter, however.

Eventually, there will be only two.

Alternatively, you can use any RSS reader and strip out my formatting.

August 2, 2011 at 12:39 AM | Registered CommenterBradtastic

I completely agree with you. I started using Momento and in at first I loved it. But in the long run with all the feeds and tags and etc, it got to a point that i didn't need to write to keep the journal, therefore loosing the whole objective of keeping a journal (to write).

Although the desktop app is overpriced as you said, I find myself writing more often on the desktop than on the iPad. So it's a great interaction between apps. Your can write quickly on the computer and read/edit on the iPad.

There are still some things i would like to include in the app though. As in any journal you should be able to attach photos, and I'm not crazy about the blue color.

January 13, 2012 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJanus

I actually like the colors a lot. I like the markdown support, but I wish it worked more like the iA Writer desktop markdown.

I actually like the desktop app a lot as well, but I'm not able to sit up at my desk to write very often or for very long; thusly, I use the iPad version most frequently.

I would really like to see a universal version of d3i Ltd's Momento; I do like some of the organizational features and integration of that app that would make it very useful in addition to Day One. Day One is great because I can add short entries on my iPhone "otr" (on the run) and full length entries on my iPad.

@Janus have you tried Mariner's MacJournal (desktop version)? Might be closer to what you're looking for.

January 22, 2012 at 4:25 AM | Registered CommenterBradtastic

Thanks for the informative article. Although a current Momento user, I've been considering switching to Day One mainly due to the desktop/mobile syncing. My only hesitation is that I have over a years worth of journal entries in Momento. After reading your recommendation I think I'm ready to make the leap!

May 23, 2012 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack

@Jack thanks for your feedback! I used to use Momento too, but they've been sort of slow to add features, and it's got a lot of stuff I don't need (like tags… superfluous). DAY ONE is beautiful on the iPad, and with markdown, I can add nice formatting as well.

I have some other app reviews and thoughts on iOS stuff here, although a lot of it is for iPad. I hope Day One works for you! Let me know if you're considering any other apps — I have used hundreds thoroughly and own nearly 4000, so there's a good chance I've tried them.

May 24, 2012 at 9:26 AM | Registered CommenterBradtastic

You've thoroughly used hundreds? Wow... I find it difficult to use 1 thoroughly. I'm a little incredulous...

Anyways, the 2 articles I could find on a quick "Day One privacy" search both seem to say: 'privacy==password protected'... really?

I'm wishing someone could give me the low-down on how private the info is from 3rd parties. I really don't care very much AT ALL about password protection - I can lock the device. If someone gets my device, they can just get my hand-written journal too. Password protections is USELESS, almost to the point of seeming just plain dumb - a false security. What I care about is that my thoughts, when it comes to my journal, are MINE, not some 3rd party. I'd pay $20 easy for something that worked well and guaranteed to do just enough to get my data shared across devices (ie no scraping my data for anything, inlcuding geo data etc. and where any data is necessary, don't save it, don't use it advertising etc. - keep it invisible even from them selves). I'm even OK with using iCloud or Dropbox to do the sharing across devices/platforms, but I'm not OK with my data->day one server->icloud or any such variant. Just my data->a single server who's only service is to backup &/or distribute the data to my other devices as reasonably securely (un-shared) as possible.

Password protection is a joke and has virtually nothing to do with privacy for such an app. If I give my device to someone else (kids, peers), I can lock them to a specific app if I want, or simply monitor its use.

Do you know what the Day One journal app actually does with the data? Is it scraped by the company for advertising or any such thing?

Thanks for taking the time to write on the subject though. I do agree at first glance the app looks pretty rocking! I just can't even bring myself to seriously use it, yet.

Best.

August 19, 2013 at 7:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterReally?

Hey, thanks for your comments. As I'd mentioned, if you are very concerned with privacy, it may not be the app for you. As far as I know, the data is NOT stored or passed through Bloom. Their FAQ has info on syncing, encryption and privacy. So perhaps no trade secrets or details about illegal activities!

;-)

http://dayoneapp.com/support/faq/ — there they mention that Dropbox and iCloud have encryption, and a few Q&As down they mention that the data isn't shared with them and they have no way to access it. They also list where it is stored locally.

A quick check on my iPad now lists 273 apps on my mini, and between my iPhone and other iPads, over 1000 apps on the devices. I spend a lot of time testing apps and contacting devs — being disabled and dealing with chronic pain, I'm often stuck in bed or convalescing at home. I take my iPad everywhere and try basically anything cool or free — if it's decent, I'll spend at least an hour or two with it to use all of the features, even if I'm ultimately going to delete it. If an app is really cool, I might spend all day with it.

Some of my favorites (just iPad) are, in no particular order: ThinkBook, Infinite SketchPad, Noteshelf, Paper, Tayasui Sketches, Adobe Ideas, Collage, SketchBook Pro & Ink, Concepts, Fetchnotes, Puffin & Mercury Browser, YouPlayer, Blogsy, Readability & Longform, Crackle, Crunchyroll, Netflix, HBOGO, Hulu Plus, Evernote, VoodooPad, AppShopper & AppsGoneFree, InkPad, Color Lava, Sumo Paint, Remarks, Muji Notebook, PS Touch, SketchClub, Zen Brush, 123D Creature, Camera+, PhotoForge2, Color Lava, Color Splash, Over, Big Lens, Luminance, Pearltrees, Procreate, and recently, I've been having fun with Isometric. I'd recommend all of those apps, but not for everyone. Many are art/design specific and of little general interest, but the notes apps and video apps are good for all (with the exception of Crunchyroll — for anime/drama fans). There are also a few hundred games that I like, but I'll probably cover that in a full post later. Two current favorites are Breach & Clear and Poker Night 2, but I'd also recommend XCOM and Deus Ex for iPad3+ users. I also like Ace Patrol, Star Wars KOTOR, Ravensword Shadowlands, Minecraft, Heroes Call, Epoch, Minigore 2, Solar 2 and Gratuitous Space Battles. Other stuff like Infinity Blade II are very popular and well covered on major gaming blogs so I tend not to talk about those games as much (Block Fortress is another hyped game). If you like cards, Ascension and Shadow Era are fantastic, and MTG Duels of the Planeswalkers is solid.

Hope this helps a little.

August 19, 2013 at 7:49 AM | Registered CommenterBradtastic

Hey, thanks for the response!

U sound like an app-junkie, lol... some time ago I realized I actually like some apps just cuz they're so well done, not that I find them that useful for myself, yikes :). That's cool you post about your experiences - helps us all out. I find I rarely use apps to their full potential or even a fraction of it - do you find you get good use out of an app? What are the top apps you use absolutely the most & have really utilized well?

Best.

August 19, 2013 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterReally?

Hey again! The apps that I listed I get a lot of use out of, some more than others. The photo apps compliment each other — some of the photos that I edit use three or four apps' filters and settings; it's probably possible to do it all in Photoshop Touch alone, but the ease of production makes switching apps ok by me.

I write blog posts and emails in Blogsy, although WordPress users can get a lot of use out of Posts — it's a very solid app, especially for blogs updated multiple times daily.

Infinite SketchPad is an amazing brainstorming app because of its nigh-infinite zoom in/out. You could put years' worth of content/notes on (in?) one document. Only drawback — no good backup option. Sucks. I keep hounding the developer about this.

For text notes, VoodooPad and ThinkBook are great. They both work sort of like a wiki, with a hierarchal-structure, but the differences are more than visual. ThinkBook offers more specific features while VoodooPad is very straightforward, but has markdown.

Fetchnotes is also very nice for simple notes and URLs — synced between iPhone and iPad/s. It uses tags for organization; I wish it had a folder structure, too, however, and better time stamps. How much can one demand from free apps, though? It's hard to complain about it.

Because I like drawing and graphic design (it's what I used to do professionally all of the time), I love Paper by FiftyThree, Tayasui Sketches, Concepts Precision Sketching (super cool now with Copic colors, free), and Autodesk apps. The first three are freemium — great basic features for free, advanced features for $2-7.

For written composition, I like iA Writer (they gave me the iOS & Mac apps) as well as Byword, Daedalus and Phraseology. Phraseology is neat because you can easily rearrange sentences and paragraphs without cut/paste. Evernote also has a built-in rich text editor.

What kind of stuff are you into, and what device do you have? Perhaps I'll write a new post covering some of it — I don't know how many other people will read these comments... lol. Yes, perhaps app junkie — I wasn't exaggerating about "hundreds."

The one commonality with iOS apps — especially the ones I really like — is communication with the developers. Most are friendly and responsive, receptive to criticism and feedback, and always looking to improve their apps. That's what I like about Mac software in general. It's nice when users can request a feature in an app, and have it in a few months for FREE.

August 19, 2013 at 2:20 PM | Registered CommenterBradtastic

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