Oftentimes we look to the start of a new year to kick off better habits, focusing on physical health. But one of the best scientifically-backed ways to improve emotional health is by reflecting on our lives through journaling. Now, Apple is making that practice easier with its new Journal app, which launched last month, exclusively on iPhones.
As the first app that the tech giant itself has launched since Freeform in 2022, Journal provides a private space for users to record their thoughts and impressions — and can especially be an effective tool for travelers to document their adventures.
While being immersed in a new destination, travelers can capture the moment in a multitude of ways in order to create a rich memory. With the quick click of a “New Entry” tab, a blank slate opens up to start writing down any musings that come to mind. Photos and videos can be pulled in from your own phone to complement those words, or you can take a new shot or video.
One of the more unique aspects is the ability to also record just the audio — perhaps it’s the sound of the crashing waves on the California coastline or the bustling sounds of a night market in Asia that you want to hold onto. In another travel-friendly feature, each entry can be capped off with a geotag so that you have a record of precisely where you were when you made that entry.
Of course, taking the time to stop and journal can feel tedious in the midst of a trip, so Journal has made it extra simple by pre-curating for you. By pulling data from your phone, it merges together similar recent activity, including photos, workouts, podcasts, music, and news articles, and suggests entries that you can write about under its “Recommended” tab. If you’re looking for items curated together based on timing, there’s also a “Recent” tab for suggested entries that pulls together activities that happened at a similar time.
Another great use for travelers is taking a quick moment to process your adventures during a break by using one of its writing prompts under the Reflection feature. Some helpful travel prompts that popped up for us were “Make an audio recording of your surroundings. Write about what you notice.” and “Take a look around you and take a picture of something you’ve overlooked. What do you notice about it?”
The best part is that Journal is completely your own private thoughts and memories, much like an actual journal — and like locking it up like a diary, your phone keeps all the entries secure so that no one else can see them. You can even add an extra degree of security by requiring the passcode or Face ID before accessing the app. The data it pulls is all from your own device, so that it truly is a personalized way to record the meaningful moments based on your activities.
Looking back at your past entries is also just like flipping back in your diary pages by scrolling back – but there’s also an added degree of ease, with the ability to “Bookmark” certain entries or filter them by type. That can be especially useful for travelers looking ahead for their next trip inspiration — by bookmarking all the thoughts and places you come across, so that they’re all in one easy-to-access location. Similarly, while on your travels, you can also look back at those marked entries to make sure you check off all the places you had been inspired by.
The app can also help you maintain the journaling habit by sending notifications at a time you specify — whether it’s a daily morning reflection or an evening wind-down wrap-up. Since it’s pulling from the phone’s time, it will also automatically adjust as you travel through time zones.
“We are excited to bring the benefits of journaling to more people,” Bob Borchers, Apple’s Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing, said in a release obtained by Travel + Leisure. “Journal makes it easy to preserve rich and powerful memories, and practice gratitude by intelligently curating information that is personal to the user, right from their iPhone.”
Journal is automatically downloaded onto devices with the release of iOS 17.2 — and is only available on iPhones.