Journal and diary writing have a long rich history, and now thanks to very crafty software developers, there are digital shelves of seductively rich apps that inspire you to write down your memories and daily activities, and preserve them like cherished photo albums.
I’ve reviewed a few online journal websites (Penzu and 280Daily), but if you’re an always-on-the-go-mobile-device-in-your-hand kind of person, you might want to use one of the iPhone journal apps described below.
iDo Notepad is the best diary/journal on the free download side. While it’s not as elegant in design as paid apps in this genre, it does include features that some diarists look for – namely the ability to password protect the entire contents of the application.
iDo also allows you to change font styles and sizes, and use it for other forms of writing like note taking, shopping lists, and idea mining. Different categories of writing can be assigned an icon for easier navigation.
The app also supports importing and exporting text files, but in my test the results were not good. When I imported a text file from Evernote into iDo, it was littered with miscellaneous characters that rendered the file nearly unusable.
Another drawback to this free app are the obtrusive ads, especially on the iPad optimized version. You can however write in full screen mode which hides the ads and menu items.
If you find yourself journaling a lot in iDo, you might consider upgrading to the $2.99 ad-free version.
For a very Zen-like simple journal/diary, My Wonderful Days Lite is a beautiful place to house your memories. All you have to do is launch the app, tap on a day in the monthly calendar, and finally tap the + button in the menubar to start typing.
You can also password protect your diary entries, add photos to a note, mark them as favorites, and attach stickers. There’s also an emotions slider to indicate how you felt on that particular day.
All your entries are indexed with the assigned marking so you can go easily go back and read them. The app contains a search function and a statistical breakdown of your entries. The full paid version of My Wonderful Days ($1.99) allows you to add multiple photos to every note and is an all-in-1 universal app for all three iOS 5 devices. In the most recent update, iCloud sync support was added, which syncs your page entries in the background.
I’ve been using iDoneThis for a couple of weeks now, because it’s a seductively simple way to jot down what you accomplish from day to day. Daily entries can be written both in your iDoneThis web account and in the iPhone version.
There are no bells and whistles with iDoneThis. It’s a simple text-based application which you can use for any type of journaling or note-taking that you want. You can even add entries to future dates.
You can also enable iDoneThis to send you an email reminder each day at a specified time (probably in the evening) to add a new entry. Each email also includes the last “what you got done” entry you wrote.
As of now there’s no premium version of iDoneThis, so use it for free and fill your calendar with your inspiring thoughts and highlights of your day.
Pad & Quill is not a free app, but I have to admit that I bought it simply because of its retro, old-school notebook design and font style.
As with similar mobile journal apps, Pad & Quill syncs your entries to all your iDevices, and it includes 10 well designed book covers to choose from.
I find the user interface a little cumbersome to use, but if it becomes your daily journal app you will eventually learn what different taps and swiping gestures are needed to navigate to its various features.
I don’t use Pad & Quill that much — mainly because it doesn’t have a web client support, but I enjoy writing in it when I do.
Do you do any form of online journaling? If so, let us know which app(s) you use, and why.