These days, it seems like people want to share just about every little detail of their life with others online. In a world where few brunches go un-instagramed and few complaints about the DMV go un-tweeted, its nice to see personal journaling experiencing something of a resurgence.
I’ve kept a paper journal for about ten years, and while it will always store entries about the more important events of my life, I recently started keeping a daily digital journal for recording the less momentous ones. I’ve spent a few days playing around with Memories from Juicy Cocktail. Can it handle my digital journalling needs?
When you first load the app, you are presented with an entry that serves as a simple tutorial slide. The main window uses a dual pane interface, with a listing of your entries in the sidebar and your main journal entry in the main body. Across the top bar are controls to show and hide the sidebar, add and remove entries, add pictures and video, controls for color and font, and the search field. The color and font controls are the standard Mac popups that most people will already be familiar with. While Memories can go fullscreen, I found the app to be rather efficient with its layout and therefore was happy using it as a small window.
Hitting the “new” button gives you a blank entry to work with. You can name your entries, though I wasn’t particularly interested in coming up with a title as if each one was a blog post. Oddly, when you click in the title field, the placeholder text doesn’t disappear, so you have to manually delete it (which is a frustration). Next to the title entry box, you’ll find a cloud icon. If you grant Memories access to your location, it will tag each entry with the local weather at the time of your writing. Clicking on the cloud won’t give you any new controls, but will display what weather information is getting tagged to your entry.
Next you’ll find an arrow icon, which has become the standard mark of location services for apps. Clicking on it displays a map that pinpoints your location using your WiFi connection. Next is a small emoticon. Click it, and you get four options for which there are no titles, but I would describe them as ecstatic, happy, indifferent, and “what a terrible day I’ve had.” It’s an interesting touch, if not a bit gimmicky. Lastly, there is the date display, which you can control if you need to record an entry for a day that you missed.
Anyone who ever grew up with a nosy sibling knows how important it is to keep your secrets hidden from others. Memories allows you to password protect your journal, and set it to automatically lock at user-defined intervals.
If you are hoping to get into keeping the journal regularly, you may need to be reminded to write. Memories integrates with Mountain Lion’s Notification Center to alert you when you need to fire up the app. You can set whatever time you want, and choose the frequency (as frequently as every 15 minutes to weekly). I found that the alerts work well.
For those who are a bit too lazy to type – or perhaps a bit narcissistic – you can record video for your journal. Clicking on the camera icon activates your iSight camera. After you’re done, the video gets embedded directly into the entry with playback controls available. Having the controls isolated within the app means you won’t open up Quicktime and leave a potentially embarrassing trail for others to uncover. This is good for privacy, but also means you can’t access the video elsewhere for your own use (such as iMovie for editing).
The search feature works well, and you can also use the calendar icon to filter which entries are displayed based on a time frame you specify.
For me, Day One for Mac and iOS has become the gold standard of journaling apps thanks to its clean design, expansive features, and quick syncing between devices. It is hard to try out an app like Memories without comparing it to Day One.
Perhaps the most glaring disadvantage for Memories in such a comparison is the lack of companion apps for you iDevices. My laptop stays at home while I bring my iPad out with me all day. I like being able to make a quick entry about a meeting I just had or phone call I just made. With an app that exists only on your Mac, your options for entry-creation are limited.
The lack of companion apps also illustrates another limitation: A lack of cloud syncing. Even without apps for iPhone or iPad, it would be nice to have access to backups. Apps like 1Password let you change the location of the library in a cloud-connected folder like Dropbox, while maintaining privacy. Even if iDevice support never comes, it would be nice to be able to change the library location, if only for syncing between Macs.
Day One offers tagging of your entries. As this is a personal journal, you aren’t using tags the way you would for something like Twitter, but instead for your own organization. If you take a trip to Hawaii, you can tag those entries to help you easily find them again later. Memories’ search function works well, but having tagging enabled would make finding a specific entry much easier.
Overall, Day One is a cleaner looking, more fully featured app. Having access to iCloud-synced companion apps for iDevices is a huge plus. However, the ability to add video directly into an entry in Memories makes it more attractive to anyone interested in keeping a video journal.
Memories currently goes for $9, which is a buck cheaper than Day One. I think the extra dollar is worth the sync-capabilities and cleaner layout, but if you want dead-simple video recording, Memories will serve you well.