AJournal isn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I downloaded it because a “journal” could mean many things, one of which being a “notebook used to record thoughts and observations over time”. This app seems to eschew the free association in favor of hardcore time tracking, though, which means it’s better suited to someone who needs scheduling and project management features.
A Calendar App on Steroids
AJournal offers a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and project-level view of whatever it is you need to track. When the app first starts, it asks which of the device’s registered calendars it should incorporate, and multiple can be selected. Nice touch! Unlike Penbook, AJournal does allow for the adding or editing of a new calendar event, which makes this app pretty useful as a Calendar replacement.
There are a lot of nice views in this app. The Day view has sections for priorities, tasks, and a schedule, along with a free drawing section at the bottom of the screen. Week provides a pretty common view of the work week, which can be modified in the settings if you want to also track weekends. The Month view shows…a calendar! Not very novel, but important. I don’t quite understand the Year view, as it doesn’t feature any labeling, and there aren’t enough sections for an entire year. Half a year, perhaps?
And finally, there’s the Project view. Since I do take a lot of notes for personal and professional projects, this would be a very-nice-to-have, although I don’t know that I agree with the design of this particular page. It seems a bit too free form to be useful, but this might be some standard project management layout that I don’t know anything about.
I couldn’t add pages to the calendar views, but I could for the Project view, and there seem to be a generous number of templates that can be applied. There is a “ruled” template, among other “generic” templates, and then we segue into daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly templates, followed by several project template. AJournal offers “meal” template category for tracking weekly meals and shopping lists. Finally, the “other” category offers list-based templates such as a reading list, shopping list, and vision boards.
AJournal offers a few perks, like stickers, and the ability to insert a photo from the device’s photo library. There are a few lettered and colorized folders at the top of the screen which appear to be the app’s ode to organization. I can’t really test this as the free version only allows one page of each type per date; I don’t know if the app is going to seize up tomorrow, seeing as how I added content associated with today, but I don’t think I’ll keep the app around long enough to find out.
The Secret Weapon
I guess all of this would be nice if calendars and tracking templates were all that AJournal had to offer, but the app does offer one killer feature that I don’t think I’ve seen in many other apps like this: the ability to design your own template.
Through the “Manage Template” menu, I found the custom template UI. Here, you can either customize an existing template (saving a copy) or start with a blank slate. Either way, individual widgets can be added to the canvas from a (fairly anemic) library of boxes, lines, and minor features.
Each element on the canvas can be resized, and they can be dragged into position where you want them to be. There are limited customization options for each widget, such as the color scheme and how many elements or how large or small the elements should be. Note that these images are from the version I am testing — the free version — which means that you don’t have to pay to get this functionality. However, since it seems that changing templates is only available in the Project category for the free version, designing templates, no matter how awesome, isn’t going to be overly useful.
I don’t think the free version is very useful if I can only see one day at a time, although I guess adding new pages for the same or different days before or after I encounter them is like violating the laws of physics or something. $26.99 a year is OK in my book if I were using AJournal for professional scheduling, but for home use it’s kind of steep.
Were I in the market for a Calendar replacement, I could easily see how AJournal would be a pretty good contender. It offers several calendar views and allows me to add content to the available Calendar systems using the Pencil. For work and personal projects, the Project view is a welcome addition. The selection of templates seems pretty generous, but the designs are entirely functional without whimsey. I consider customization-anything to be worth its weight in gold, so the option to create custom templates from scratch is a fantastic feature. Overall, this could be a very good calendar-based journal app, which unfortunately is not what I am after at this time.