Leon Mika

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Day One and Project Jurassic

So, Day One is in danger of being sherlocked by rumor’s of Apple’s upcoming journaling app:

Mayne echoes the sentiment of several app developers who have been frustrated when Apple launched in-house competitors to the apps they have introduced to the ecosystem, often copying features those apps innovated and adding functionality that only Apple can offer, per the iPhone’s privacy and security policies and APIs.

I’m a user of Day One and I have my doubts that Apple’s app would be a drop-in replacement for my journaling needs. And I think the reasons why Day One works for me — and could be made to work better — are also opportunities for Auttomatic to differentiate Day One from project Jurassic.

The first is access to user’s data. If Apple’s going to leverage the data it has access to on the phone, then Auttomatic should go the other way, making it dead easy for services outside Apples ecosystem to add stuff to people’s journal. Have a blog? Post photos to Flickr? Track movies in Letterboxd? Wouldn’t it be nice to get this into your Day One journal, safe and secure? A public API that these services can use to add posts to user’s journal would go a long way here. These services can offer an export option straight from the app, and Day One can be the private collection of all things a user does on the web, sort of like a private blog.

And yes, I know there’s that IFTTT integration, but I found it to be pretty crummy (all the post formatting was stripped and images were not uploaded). And it would be a pretty ordinary user experience to have these services say to their users “hey, if you want the stuff you track here in your journal, you have to create an account at this other service.” I guess all these services could publish this information as RSS feeds, and I would settle for that, if the IFTTT integration is actually working.

But arguments about IFTTT aside, the point is that Day One should fully embrace other services getting user’s data into their journal, and the best way to do this is with a public API. I know it won’t work for all their journals (one’s encrypted E2E should remain so) but the user’s should have that option, and services should be empowered to allow this.

And let’s not forget the largest trump card Automattic has over Apple: an Android app and web app. I haven’t used the web app but I use the Android app all the time. I can’t imagine Apple releasing an Android version of their journalling app, particularly if they’re gearing it towards health and leveraging all the private data people have on their iPhones. Automattic should keep working on both the Android and web app, so that users not completely in Apple’s ecosystem can keep journals.

So I don’t think Auttomatic has much to fear about project Jurassic. But they can’t rest on their laurels. They should embrace the platforms outside of Apple and iOS to really differentiate Day One, and keep it a favourite of mine for journaling.

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