Day One for iOS Review

Day One Review: Journaling with labeled buttons.

This review is for the Day One app for iPhone. I have never been the best at the actual practice of journaling. Yet I find myself drawn to a lot of the apps that claim they can capture your life as you live it in various ways. Mainly because I like to see how Voiceover, or NVDA works with them. I have found more mobile apps than ones for PC; mobile is a faster way to record instant thoughts than a laptop I suppose. I will review others in future, but Day One is often regarded as the best of the iPhone apps.

I first encountered Day One when it was fairly new, in the version that they have now designated “Day One Classic,” before version 2.0 which completely redesigned the interface. Much like Evernote (which I am planning a lengthy review of), my fellow productivity nerds were in love with Day One’s graphics and ease of use. So, I downloaded it. I’ll admit I don’t remember all the specifics, but I do remember being very disapointed that the buttons were not labeled well at all. Voiceover at the time (iOS 7 or 8 I think) didn’t have the ability to read what the alt-text of a button might be the way it does now. So I was left just to click on the buttons and see what happened. It was a frustrating experience and I managed to put a few entries in. But the app was sluggish and I gave it up pretty quickly.

Fast forward to the release of Day One 2.0. I read about it on a blog or saw it in a tweet, I can’t remember which. It was supposed to be completely redesigned and streamlined. Ok, I could try to wipe the disdainful look off my face and download it.

Usually when I see the words “completely redesigned UI,” I immediately get worried, because that usually means accelerated and expanded graphical support, support for some strange drag-and-drop feature, or other visual enhancements. Rarely does it mean that the accessibility will be improved, if the app’s UI wasn’t very accessible to begin with. Luckily, Day One was an exception to the rule. I opened up the “new” version and was very pleasantly surprised. They re-labeled seemingly every button and gave them popup hints that Voiceover could read (the iPhone equivalent of tooltips I guess you could say).

So eagerly I started journaling in February of last year. And then life happened and I slowed down. Fast forward though to May when I lost my wife Priscilla, and there were definitely good reasons to journal. So I re-opened Day One, and they had made even more improvements. I could put tags in easier and just write until I was done. I do write in my personal journal frequently and have my Facebook statuses put there thanks to IFTTT. I also do my best to keep a food log, that one could be better handled I’ll admit.

There are only a few issues with the navigation on the journal entry’s screen itself. The step count, weather, and location are all recorded, if you want them to be, but the order they are presented is not so speech-friendly. It lists the numbers first, then the labels for what they are. I’m sure it’s perfectly fine visually, but I did have to do a few checks to see what numbers lined up with which thing. Sometimes I feel like the order of things changes, but I could be wrong about that. After awhile, reading the numbers and trying to line them up in my mind gets a bit cumbersome. Luckily, there is a slight fix. At the top of the Entry window, is a button. The button, however, does Not have a label that Voiceover recognizes, it says, “button, button.” This is the usual way screen readers tell you that they see the button but it’s graphical. There is no tooltip either on this button. So, I double tap it, and discover a popup menu that tells me, at least, the character and word counts and the date and time of the entry with various options to edit and share and things like that.

There is a similarly unlabeled button at the bottom of the entry’s screen that is a selection toggle. I am guessing it’s for starring the entry? I have no idea, because the star doesn’t really help me since I don’t have a ton of entries to look back at.

Those two things are really the only things I can find wrong with Day One. I am very impressed with the button labeling and, for the most part, the layout really lets me switch journals and entries. At least that top unlabeled button gives me the data of the entry if I do have a problem figuring out when I wrote it.

So, I hope you got something from the review here, let me know by a comment or an email. This is my second attempt at this, so suggestions/feedback are welcome.

Thanks, Dave