Apple has a new iOS Journal app to improve your well-being

journal app icon

Apple has unveiled a new tool to support your well-being in iOS 17. More specifically, it’s meant to bolster your mental health. Enter Apple’s new Journal app.

The Cupertino tech giant first teased the Journal app at WWDC 2023 earlier this year and launched it in the first beta version of iOS 17.2 in early November. It’s set to roll out publicly on all user devices when iOS 17.2 launches later this year.


But why should you use the Apple Journal app on your iPhone? And how do you use it? Here’s everything you need to know about the iOS 17 Journal app.

What is Apple’s Journal app?

journal app

Think of the Apple Journal app as a digital version of your favorite pen-and-paper journal. It’s a way for you to write and chronicle your day-to-day life directly on your smartphone.

At its core, Journal functions like similar journaling apps on iOS. You can create an entry per day, and fill it with details, text, photos, videos, voice memos, and other content to help you remember your life. You’ll be able to revisit old journal entries like any other app.

What differentiates Journal from competitors is that the app can intelligently access your everyday tasks on iPhone. For example, Journal can offer suggestions based on:

  • The music you listened to
  • The outings you had
  • The photos that you’ve taken
  • The places that you’ve visited
  • The people that you’ve texted or called

The app also gives you some writing prompts based on these intelligent suggestions, in case you’re struggling to write something.

Of course, an app knowing all of these intimate details of your life might be a bit concerning, but since it’s an Apple product, it’s privacy-forward. Apple says that the app’s suggestions are private, and only the items you select will actually be shared to the app.

How does Apple’s Journal app work?

journal suggestions
Examples of the content Journal will suggest.

When you open the Apple Journal app, you’ll be greeted with a blank slate and suggestions to help you get started. To offer intelligent suggestions, the app will analyze several different data sources from:

  • Contacts
  • Location
  • Music
  • Photos
  • Podcasts
  • Workouts

From there, it will give you a guided writing prompt, such as “What was the highlight of your trip?”

writing on journal
Journal entries are rich with text, photos, and more.

Of course, you can also enrich all of your Journal entries with rich content, such as photos, videos, and more. The app will even intelligently suggest content for you to use so that you don’t have to search for it. When you finish a journal entry, you can view it in a beautiful full-screen view.

Once you complete a Journal entry, it will display in chronological order within the app. Think of it like a news feed on a timeline. In fact, using the app feels a bit like using a social networking app. You can bookmark significant entries in your Journal for easier retrieval later, and it lets you filter entries by photos, places, and other metrics.

You can also set the Journal app to send you a notification as a reminder to journal about your day. The app can send you notifications at a specific time of day or send you an alert when there are new journaling suggestions ready.

journal notification
Notifications can remind you to stay consistent!

As mentioned earlier, the Journal app is secure and private, and you can lock the app using Face ID for an added layer of security. The entries themselves are safely stored in iCloud, so all of your hard work documenting your life is secure, even if you happen to lose or break your device.

How does the Journal app compare to other apps?

day one
While Journal is iPhone-only, alternatives like Day One are cross-platform.

As mentioned earlier, the Journal app stands out in a crowded field because of its intelligent suggestions. That might make it a great choice for those who want to document their life through the songs they hear, the podcasts they listen to, and the people they spend time with.

However, the app is still in its beta form and is relatively barebones. For example, the app lacks a robust search option and doesn’t let you view entries in a calendar format.

Additionally, the app is currently iPhone-only. That means there isn’t a version available for iPad or Mac — two platforms that are arguably better suited to writing. Other apps, like Day One, are cross-platform.

It’s worth noting that Apple is opening up its suggestion API to other developers, meaning apps like Day One will get access to the same intelligent suggestions as Journal. Although the app is still in its infancy, there may be more reason to use a dedicated and long-standing journal app over Apple’s when similar capabilities are rolled out to third-party platforms.

Benefits of using the iOS Journal app


Journaling, of course, isn’t just a way to remember the details of your day-to-day life. There’s a growing body of science indicating that journaling — whether done on pen-and-paper or using a smartphone app — can have profound positive effects on your mental and physical well-being.

For example, a 2006 study showed that consistent journaling was just as effective as more clinical therapeutic methods when it came to reducing depression risk in young adults. Another study from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that journaling could help people manage anxiety.

There are also surprising studies showing that journaling can have a positive effect on your physical health, too. One research study found that those who journaled for 20 minutes per day had a host of physical benefits, including reduced blood pressure, fewer stress-related visits to the doctor, and improved immune system, lung, and liver function.

More than that, journaling is also a great way to practice gratitude, which has its own plethora of benefits for your physical and mental well-being.

Here are just a few other science-backed benefits of journaling.

  • Improves mental health
  • Increases self-confidence
  • Boosts emotional intelligence
  • Helps with goal-setting
  • Boosts creativity
  • Improves memory
  • Enhances critical thinking skills

When will Apple Journal become available?

Journal app

The Apple Journal app is a simple and barebones way to track and document your life in a streamlined, beautiful, and private way. Although it’s pretty simple at this point, Apple could continue to improve and iterate on the platform in the future.

Apple Journal should be released to the public with the launch of iOS 17.2 later this year.


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