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The New Year has started and with it, your resolutions. For many of us, every year begins with a promise to write more. Diaries are a great for this but that can itself be a hard habit to keep. But what if your iOS device made things easier for you? What if there were an easy, fun way to digitally document your life? Here are three apps we found that can help make keeping a diary not only a little easier, but a whole lot more fun.
With social media, people write diary entries every day -- they just don't call it that. Momento from d3i Ltd puts your daily documentation back into the mix by adding in your social media whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Foursquare, Gowalla, Digg, YouTube, or even the RSS feed to your favorite site (your blog, for instance).
What you share it can import
Suddenly, the reluctant diarist has a long history of recording daily events. Each service provides limitations on this (Twitter only coughs up your last 3,200 tweets), though this can be enough to get you writing more. The app starts you out with the option of importing from these online places, but you can skip it and get right to the app.
Calendar of things you've done and where
Four buttons cross the app's bottom. Days gives you an itinerary-like view of your updates. Calendar shows you a monthly view with days sporting updates marked with dots. Tap a dotted day to be taken to that day's entries. The Tags button allows you to quickly search your information that you create in the app (as opposed to imported socially). And Feeds shows off the list of where you're importing from.
Writing and tagging all right here
To create a moment in the app, simply tap on the Writing button in the upper right hand corner of any page of the app. You can write a note or take or upload photos from your camera roll, and you can tag days based on people involved, places, events, or your own custom tags. Have a good day? Momento lets you give it a star rating.
Tap the gear in the upper left corner for settings where you can manage your feeds, turn off sounds, modify the appearance, and lock Momento with a passcode. There is also the option to export your Momento data as a text file that does or does not include photos and feed data or to create backups that you can reimport to the app at another time.
Twitter jokes, etc. all can be imported
Momento is slick, helpful, and makes journaling fun. We had a problem with the dates of some of our imported tweets (the app post-dated them by about 20 years), which reimporting did not resolve, though this was a very small bug in our tests.
The developers 9 Square Workshop have taken the route of making diary entries easy as well with their semi-eponymously named 9 Square Diary DX (a free version sans DX is available too). You are presented, upon opening the app with nine tiles making up the vast majority of the screen while five control buttons run across the app's bottom.
That's a breakfast of champions there
These nine tiles are broken out into pre-set categories, though you can change them. The center tile is date and weather (which you can set to your location but not remove), while the other are eight sections of your life. Do you not care for "Happy Event" as something to log on a daily basis? Tap the Setting gear, then tap Subtitles to change each category to something you care for.
While in settings, you can set a background image for your diary, change the name from "My diary" to something else, link to social networks, choose from several font options, backup your diary data, and even change the layout from nine squares to six or four.
Pick your own eight
Back on the main screen, tap a square to enter the entry screen. Here you can type the information for that day and that category. It's like eight journals in one. Track your weight and your food, log dreams, trace your emotions over time, whatever you want to document. From this screen you can even swipe your finger up and down a square to read it in its entirety. Swipe sideways across the app to move through days.
Type it up; how are you doing, anyway?
The buttons on the bottom allow you to add photos to your day or attach a specific song (though the song appears to attach to the diary as a whole, not the date when you added it). Tap the Mail button to send today's entry to someone (great if you use the app for itineraries or want a day-to-day backup). All the entries are searchable which is also a good way to get a quick, stripped down overview of your diary entries. And up top there's a record button that can allow you to make audio recordings for each day.
Record a note each day, but just one.
9 Square DX is a decent app for the novice diarist who doesn't necessarily have pages and pages to share, but still wants to record their daily doings. At the same time, it's also flexible enough that even experienced writers can find its easy to fill in boxes a helpful prompt to daily writing. While we'd like to see a little more functionality, the app is simple enough to get you started.
Flava, from Greenmonster, Inc. also breaks your life down into categories, though it has seven predefined categories to start from. Again, simplicity in design hides a very well developed app for capturing all the different kinds of things you do and want to record in your life.
To get started recording the flava of the day, tap the + in the upper right corner. This brings up the Add New overlay with the seven buttons for adding content. Do you just want to work the straight text angle? Of course, Flava can do that, and you can make multiple entries each day. But what else does this app have?
Grab your life by the flava, yo.
See something beautiful or your friends clowning? Grab a snap of that -- but wait, once you've done that, slap some stickers on your pix, like hearts or flowers or mustaches. The stickers are rather juvenile and we'd have liked to see the option of adding text within the picture itself, but overall it was pretty cute.
There were also options for tagging a place and posting a map to the location, logging a song on a day, noting which book we're reading (Flava searches Google Books and pulls up cover and data just from entering the title), logging websites we'd been to, and recording voice notes. Songs we'd tagged on a day left their cover art even after we'd removed the actual mp3 files, but a small YouTube icon next to the song took us -- in app -- directly to a video for that song.
Nice way to keep track of earworms and more
Each piece of flava that you add to your journal also has four ghostly icons next to it for tagging purposes. Add a heart, a smiley, a star, or a piece of buttery toast to an entry. Later, back at the home page, tap the calendar icon at the screen's bottom to find only those entries you hearted or toasted. And each entry can be individually passcode locked.
Down in settings, of course, you can passcode lock the whole shooting match, as well as back up your Flava to Dropbox or Evernote. Here's also where you sign in to social media, to share your diary-life through Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. This will add to the string of metadata hearts and smiley icons, and while it's not currently possible to search for just shared content, that remains a possibility.
This book should have been tagged "toasty"
Because what shows real foresight by the developers is the room they've left for Flava to grow. While the Add New screen offers seven options, two spaces are blank, allowing the app the possibility of content management growth without a complete redesign. Flava is fun, addictive, just the thing to get you started -- and it's free.
We're torn seriously in half here. While we like 9 Square's division of our day into different aspects we want to focus on, Flava lets us journal our life in a far more pleasing manner and its interface is light years ahead. Flava also didn't set us back a penny and was dead fun to use. Missing from its interface, however, is a search function of some kind. Just limiting our results to certain tags like hearts only works up to a certain point.
Momento captures those moments we're sharing out there in the rest of the online world and puts them into context with other, more private things we want to document. At the same time, the app relies heavily on other services to do the heavy lifting and doesn't add much more than text and photos to the mix.
In all honesty, we'd really like to see one of these apps totally crib the features the other lacks so we could keep our diary action down to a single point of entry, but for the moment, we're going to keep them both ourselves, just to see what each pulls out of their bag of developer tricks.