Day One originally launched in March 2011 and it has been on every iPhone and Mac I have owned since then. When you talk about "the best apps on iOS" the conversation has to include this delightful little app. It's been a world class app since it's debut almost 5 full years ago. There are certainly apps that I use more than Day One and ones that are more "essential" to my daily work on my phone, but none evoke such as strong emotional response as the one I have to Day One.
So why do I feel this strongly towards an app? A journaling app, no less! I don't know if I can fully explain it, but I'll give it a go.
A Memory Vault
Day One has a leg up on many other utilitarian and "time killer" apps in that its contents is made up of the most important moments in my life. That's a sappy thing to say, but it's true. I share a lot of my life on Twitter and Facebook, and there are plenty of things I don't share publicly. I want to keep my "social" persona fun and positive, but I'm a real person, and that means I have a wide range of emotions, weird feelings1, and personal moments that aren't fit to be shared with everyone who stumbles upon twitter.com.
These memories are what I put in Day One. Half of my posts are just saying what my favorite thing I did today was, and the other half are just silly pictures with captions. Then there are the random shower thoughts that are totally stupid and not fit to share, but I actually love recording in Day One.
With all of this content in Day One, it's no wonder I am so attached to this app. I launch it and am immediately greeted with some of my favorite memories from the last few days. I flick the list down and suddenly I'm looking at memories from months/years ago, reminded of what I was doing then, how far I've come, and how fast life moves.
The Best Journal...
Now all of the above could be said about any journaling system. A paper notebook could do the same (although sans images) and there are other apps for the iPhone that let you keep a journal. What sets Day One apart is what a pure joy it is to use.
Most journals have the first couple pages filled out and then it's nothing but blank page after page after that. This is how I was for the first 25 years of my life. I told myself I was going to record my life and look back on it many years later, and it just never happened. The first time I ever stuck with it at all was with the first Day One app. It was a good-looking app that made it nice and easy for me to quickly write something and hop right back out.
...Has Some New Tricks
Now with version 2.0 I think the UI has taken a confident step forward and is an even better app that the one it's replacing. The changes begin right when you launch the app, as the interface is more inviting. It's brighter and puts a stronger focus on content first. The giant buttons to start a new entry return and are as convenient as ever, but the big change is in replacing the list of options along the bottom with a timeline of your latest exploits. All other parts of the app are found by tapping into the navigation bar along the bottom edge of the screen or the few icons hovering at the top. Adding the timeline to the main screen is a good move, as I find myself scrolling through it more frequently since it's right there in front of me and not hidden behind a menu.
But what's behind those menus is also improved. my favorite addition is the map, which (as you're probably guessed) shows you a map of all your entries and is a really fun way to remind yourself of certain events.
You also now have the ability to strip all the text away and just view your entries based on the image attached to them. You can tap into a photo to see the entire entry if you want. Also new to version 2 is the ability to add multiple photos to a single entry. It's a small for me, as I don't find myself using this a lot, but it's nice to have when you need it.
But it doesn't stop there. I really like Day One's chosen color scheme, but that blue may not appeal to everyone. You now have the option to change the base color of the app to your choice of 12 pastel colors.
The selection of colors on offer should mean you find something that's perfect for you. You might think the purple one would appeal to me, but I've found I really like the green. Looking good.
There's tons of new stuff in Day One 2 and I would cover them in a more typical app review, but I'm not going to dive deep into those details here. There's great (free) online sync built out by the Day One team2 that works incredibly fast, support for multiple journals, bulk updating, custom daily reminders to write, search filters, and more. There s lot here to dive into. Day One 2 isn't lacking for features.
Buying the iOS version of Day One 2 also nets you an iPad version which is 100% the same app, just modified to display nicely on the larger screens. There is a Mac update as well, but I honestly don't use Day One on my Mac all that much, so I don't have a lot to say about it. All I can say with certainty is that it seems to bring along all the features of the iOS version, so all the apps work together seamlessly.
If it's not clear now, Day One 2 gets my highest recommendation. It already stood as one of my favorite apps I've ever used, and the changes made to version 2.0 are all for the better in my opinion. I wracked my brain to think of something, anything to criticize the app for, and the only thing I can think of is the removal of Dropbox sync, which I hope will never be a problem for me. Day One remains one of the best apps you can buy for your iPhone and it's absolutely worth a look if you haven't used it before.
- But like, normal weird, not weird weird. Does that make sense? I'll stop talking now... ↩
- Dropbox and iCloud sync have been removed, so you need to switch over. This could be cause for concern if the Day One team goes under and this syncing stops working. Odds are Dropbox will be around longer than they will, so this is something to consider. ↩