What Is iOS 17’s Journal App and How Does It Work?


When Apple unveiled iOS 17 at its WWDC event in June, the Journal app drew a lot of attention. However, the tech giant didn’t release the app with iOS 17 on Sept. 18 or with the iPhone 15 series. Instead, Apple gave beta testers and developers a first glimpse of the app with iOS 17.2 beta 1

Journaling has been linked to many mental health benefits, including managing anxiety, reducing stress and helping cope with depression. But some people might have a difficult time remembering to journal or won’t know what to write. Apple’s Journal app makes it easy to jot down a few thoughts when you’re on your phone, and it provides you with writing prompts and other reminders about what you’ve done in a day.

Here’s what you should know about Journal and how it works. Note I tested the app on iOS 17.2 beta 1, so some features could change in the final version of the software.

What is Journal?

Journal is an app developed by Apple to write journal entries and insert pictures, videos and other content into entries. Your entries are stored locally on your iPhone, and you can have backups of your entries on iCloud.

Journal app Reflection that reads Think about something you love to do and why it brings you joy, and a few photos of a man and woman

Journal can suggest Reflections or other moments to write about.

Screenshot by Zach McAuliffe/CNET

Journal can provide you with prompts, called Reflections, that you can write about. Some Reflections the app gave me included, “Think about something you love to do and why it brings you joy,” and “Describe someone in your life who you really appreciate but forget to thank.”

The app can also access certain data and give you suggestions about what to write based on that data. For example, on my first weekend with Journal it suggested I write about a coffee shop my wife and I went to, as well as a local park that we visited. You can control what types of data and other apps Journal can access to create these suggestions. 

How secure is Journal?

According to Apple, the app has end-to-end encryption between your device and iCloud, and the app uses on-device processes to create journaling suggestions, like Reflections. That means the data your app uses stays on your iPhone.

“No one but you can access your journal — not even Apple,” the company wrote online.

Beyond that, you can require the app to ask for your FaceID or passcode after it’s been inactive for a certain amount of time. You can set the app to require your FaceID or passcode after one, five or 15 minutes of inactivity. And if you don’t want to take any chances, you can set the app to immediately lock when you switch apps or your iPhone goes to sleep; you know, in case of snooping siblings or roommates.

How do you write an entry in Journal?

On the Journal homepage, you’ll see your recent journal entries and a plus (+) sign across the bottom of your screen. Tap the plus sign and you’ll be taken to a new menu.

The date Tuesday, Oct 31 is at the top of the screen above the title card for the podcast You're Wrong About below it. Beneath the podcast is text that reads Listened to Podcasts and a blank space to type in

You can write about Podcasts you listened to earlier in the day. 

Screenshot by Zach McAuliffe/CNET

In this new menu, you’ll see your app’s suggested Reflections as well as moments from throughout your day you can write about, like a picture you took or a Podcast you listened to. Tap into any of these for a short overview of the suggestion, like when a photo was taken, and then tap Start Writing. You’ll be taken to a new page that looks similar to a new note in the Notes app, but the suggestion will show across the top of the screen. You can write your entry on this page, and you can add other content like photos, videos or voice notes to the entry from this page, too.

You can also just write an entry without a suggestion. After tapping the plus sign on the Journal homepage, there is an option across the top of the new menu that reads New Entry. Tap this, and you can jot down any thoughts or feelings you’re having at the moment, or you can add your own content here, as well.

Once you’re finished with your entry, tap Done in the top-right corner and the entry will be saved to the Journal homepage. You can also edit or update entries once they’ve been saved to the homepage. Tap the three dots () in the bottom-right corner of the entry you want to edit, then tap Edit and you can change your entry. 

What if I need help keeping a journaling schedule?

Have no fear, you can set the app to remind you to journal. You have to go to Settings > Journal > Journaling Schedule and tap the switch next to Schedule. A menu will appear below Schedule which will allow you to set a reminder for every day — or certain days — of the week at a certain time. 

The Journaling Schedule menu in the Journal app which lets you schedule what days and times to journal

You can schedule reminders to journal every day or for select days. 

Screenshot by Zach McAuliffe/CNET

However, when I tried to schedule notifications, I was prompted to turn on Notifications in Settings. I allowed notifications, but I was still told I needed to turn notifications on. I’m on iOS 17.2 beta 1, so this bug might be an issue with the beta software that’ll be resolved before launch.

When will Journal be available?

Apple’s website still says the app will launch later this year. And since Journal was included in the software for the first beta of iOS 17.2, I expect the app to be available when Apple releases iOS 17.2 to the public. Apple hasn’t announced a release date for iOS 17.2, though.

The good news is Journal was included in the download for iOS 17.2 beta 1. That means when you download iOS 17.2 after its release, Journal should automatically download with the update, so you won’t have to find the app in the App Store.

Apple already launched its Journals Suggestion API. That means third-party journaling apps, like Reflectly and Day One, can also use the journaling suggestions as well, but those third-party app developers must adopt the API first.

For more Apple news, check out my review of iOS 17 and our iOS 17 cheat sheet.


Watch this: iOS 17 Still Holds Surprises: Overheating Fix, Podcast Changes and More


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