Online Journaling Apps: Diaro and Day One

I have taken to journaling lately and I have found it a great way to work out thoughts and ideas in private. You can say many things to yourself in your own head, but something more magical happens when you write it down. Many would say the ultimate of writing it down is to use a pen and paper, but I prefer to type. I have always had trouble writing with a pen and I can certainly type faster which helps in keeping up with the fast firing brain.  I have been searching for a long time for a journaling application I liked, and only recently have found one I have fallen in love with.

My requirements are my own, so take the review with a grain of salt depending on your own needs. For the past year, I have moved nearly all of my application needs to The Cloud. I tend to change my platforms at will and don’t want to be tied down to any particular piece of hardware. I use a desktop Mac at home, but use a PC at work and I have an Android phone and tablet. Last year, however, I had an iPhone. Any application I use has to be available on multiple platforms and sync data between them for this reason. My note taking app, Evernote is the ultimate example of such an app. It has native Mac and PC versions as well as being available on Android, iOS and the web. Data sync between all these platforms is flawless.

Side note: Why do you think Netflix is winning right now? Because they put their app on so many platforms. There is literally nowhere you can’t run Netflix. Sure, House of Cards is great too.

With all this said, I came down to two apps for journaling, really only one because the other technically breaks the rules. I have a hard time not mentioning Day One from Bloom simply because it’s such a fantastic app. It does break the rules, however, because it’s only available on Mac and iOS. It kills me they didn’t do a web version because that would have been enough for me even without an Android app.

But if you are all Mac and plan to stay that way, I would absolutely go with Day One. It’s one of the most beautiful apps I have ever seen. It has a simple design and yet is packed with features. Steve Jobs would have loved it. My journaling is very simple, so I don’t use many of the other features, but it Day One has the essentials, namely great syncing to either Dropbox or iCloud, passcode lock and a great reminders feature to remind you when it’s time to journal. Day One also supports photos, weather and GPS location for each journal entry. What makes Day One really stand out though is the user interface. It’s really easy and so beautiful it’s a pleasure to use. I also love the full screen, no distractions writing mode.

When I switched my phone to an Android phone, however, Day One became less useful and I was on the hunt for a replacement. Fortunately I found an app called Diaro. I don’t know if it’s on purpose, but Diaro shamelessly copies the user interface of Day One. It’s not exactly the same and not as beautiful, but it’s close enough and was exciting for me because I was so in love with the UI of Day One. So Diaro looks great and works well too. Like Day One it has the basics that I need: great syncing using Dropbox, password lock and reminders. Diaro also supports photos and location data. It also counts your words and characters, which I like, and you can organize your posts in folders or with tags. I especially like the tags support as you can refer back to all your posts that mention something particular.

Diaro does not have a Mac or PC version at this time. It supports Android and the web. That’s not many platforms, right? But Diaro gets away with it because of it’s outstanding web version. I use the web version daily on a Mac, PC and even a Chromebook and it works perfectly. The native Android app is also great. Like Evernote, data sync between everything is perfect. If Day One had a web version this good, I would probably go back.

You can’t go wrong with either Day One or Diaro. The real question is do you need support outside of the Apple ecosystem? If no, go with Day One. If so, you’ll love Diaro.