Apple Plans iPhone Journaling App in Expansion of Health Initiatives

Apple CEO Tim Cook  (REUTERS)
Apple CEO Tim Cook (REUTERS)


  • Daily activities log is set to compete with existing software.

Apple Inc. is planning an iPhone app to let users compile their daily activities as part of its efforts in the market for mental and physical health technology, according to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The software will compete in a category of so-called journaling apps, such as Day One, which lets users track and record their activities and thoughts. The new Apple product underscores the company's growing interest in mental health.

In one document describing the app, Apple said journaling is shown to improve mental and physical well-being. Much of Apple's push into healthcare has been centered around the Apple Watch.

The new app follows a pattern in which Apple provides a platform for developers and often competes with them, including by building apps that have similar features to existing software and sometimes offering them free to users. Some software engineers have taken to calling the practice “sherlocking." Many large companies, particularly in tech, have been accused of launching products that closely resemble those developed by smaller operators. It couldn't be determined if Apple plans to charge for the app.

The Wall Street Journal reported this past week on the experiences of more than two dozen executives, inventors, investors and lawyers who said Apple met with them about potential partnerships or integration before talks stopped and Apple launched its own, similar products.

“It's always the worst thing to have to hear that you're about to be sherlocked," said Paul Mayne, founder of the Day One app, when the Journal informed him of the company's plans.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. Apple has previously said it respects intellectual property and doesn't copy other companies' products.

The term “sherlocking" is a historical reference from about two decades ago, when Apple launched a search product called Sherlock. A third-party developer made a tool known as Watson, with more capabilities than Sherlock. Apple subsequently released an updated version of its app with many of the same features as Watson.

Apple's app will have the ability to gather much more user data than Day One, providing access to text messages and phone calls, the documents show. Once the Apple app is launched, it will be preloaded onto every iPhone with the latest operating system.

The Apple journaling app, code-named Jurassic, is designed to help users keep track of their daily lives, according to the documents describing the software. The app will analyse the users' behaviour to determine what a typical day is like, including how much time is spent at home compared with elsewhere, and whether a certain day included something outside the norm, according to the documents.

A personalization feature will highlight potential topics for users to write about, such as a workout, the documents show. The app is expected to offer “All Day People Discovery" to detect a user's physical proximity to other people, and Apple will seek to distinguish between friends outside work and colleagues.

While Apple has previously collected information about the daily lives of its users, the new app will likely heighten awareness about how data can be used.

In the documents, Apple said privacy and security will be central to the software's design. The analysis of the user's day will take place on-device, according to the documents. On-device data are generally not transmitted or shared. Journaling suggestions will remain in the system for four weeks. Afterward, they will be removed.

“Apple has a history of being more privacy-preserving, even to the point of losing competitive advantage," said Jon Callas, a former security manager at Apple who left in 2018 and is currently director of public-interest technology at the digital civil-liberties nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation. “That makes me far more likely to give Apple the benefit of the doubt."

The documents show that the app is set to work with all iPhone hardware that comes with Apple's coming operating system, iOS 17, code-named Dawn. The Jurassic app could be announced as soon as Apple's June developer conference, called the Worldwide Developers Conference. It could be announced later.

The company is expected to announce other products as well, including its first “mixed reality" headset, combining augmented and virtual reality, according to analysts. Apple might also announce a system for using third-party apps and app stores on iPhones and iPads outside the company's App Store to comply with coming European regulations.

For Mr. Mayne of Day One, the possibility of Apple entering the journaling space will mean that he will have to work to differentiate his product from the iPhone maker's. “It will definitely give us some competition," he said.

Founded in 2011, Day One focused its software primarily on Apple's iPhone and Mac. It grew largely because of Apple's support, Mr. Mayne said, being displayed on the App Store and receiving an Apple design award in 2014. He said his app has grown to more than 200,000 subscribers paying $35 a year for the premium version of the app.

About three years ago, Day One support from Apple dropped off suddenly, Mr. Mayne said. Day One wasn't featured as prominently on the App Store as it was in the past, he said. He didn't know why the support stopped but suspected it could be that Apple was building its own app.

In 2021, Mr. Mayne sold his app company to Automattic Inc., owner of the website builder He has continued to oversee Day One at Automattic.

Write to Aaron Tilley at

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