Been hankering to start (and keep up with) a journal or diary lately? Twitter and Facebook just not seeming to cut it anymore? Skip the pen and paper for the Momento, the best journaling app we found that will give you a beautiful, simplistic, and incredibly new-age journal and that you’ll never want to throw out.
The developers over at d3i released Momento in December, and because it was released at the tail end of the year, we’re betting this could be considered one of the best apps of both 2009 and 2010, for the app’s great starting list of features that continues to grow and expand. Not only can you document private moments you need to scribble (er, type) out, but you can also keep track of your social activity online that you import from sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Last.fm.
Check out our breakdown and full review of Momento after the jump
Creating a Moment
Momento refers to a journal entry as a “moment,” of which there are two different kinds. If you choose to import your social feeds into the app (from Twitter, for example [more on this in a moment, pun intended]), entries created from the feeds are considered your “social moments,” and entries written from scratch within the app are referred to as your “private moments.” The calendars you view also indicate which moments you had on a particular day (also, more on this momentarily).
A moment can be as simple as a few words of text or as detailed as hundreds of words of text, along with “tags” for people/places/things and even photo uploads. The great thing about the overall setup of Momento is that it’s designed for both lengthy, end-of-the-day (or even end-of-the-week) entries and short snippets that you write throughout a day or week that might take up a little less energy (and possibly be more enjoyable to read later on, not to mention allow you to write about events as they happen or soon thereafter). When you’re inputting a new entry, you simply tap the Compose button in the upper right corner (it’s stationery there in any tab you’re working/viewing in) and begin typing or tagging.
Let’s say you’re creating a moment about an event or special place you visited, with or without friends. After you’ve written the text of your entry, you can begin adding tags to remember exactly where you went and who you were with. For people, you can add a tag by either creating a tag for a specific person in the app or just pull from your iPhone contacts list. For places, you just type in the location and the tag will be created and can be referred to again in a future entry. An appropriate example of tagging that shows just how much potential this has is the SXSW festival going on now in Austin, Texas. Someone using Momento could create a moment to document a specific show or panel attended at the festival. They could tag people they attended with and also create an event tag for SXSW (as well as a custom tag for anything other way they’d like to document the event, like “laughs” or “good music”). Now, let’s say this user has the Momento app for years afterward and has journaled in Momento every time they attended SXSW. They can now view all of the entries that are tagged “SXSW” to see what they did years previous or what they thought of a previous event at the festival.
The tags feature in Momento is a perfect example of how the Momento app isn’t simply a novelty journaling app. In a time when written diaries and journals are slowly fading away, Momento gives iPhone users an opportunity to filter and sift through very specific events or moments that happened with specific people or in specific places. The “tags” tab at the bottom of the screen lets you view all of the tags you have created for people/places/events/custom in list form, then view all entries associated with them. This feature alone has me about 99 percent convinced and determined to journal on a daily basis (at the very least) by using the Momento app. And, thus far, it’s been glitch-free and easier than I could have imagined to use.
With any moment created, you have the option of attaching photos that will show up as small thumbnails within your entry later when you view it. Photos can either be taken while in the app and added to the entry, or simply chosen from your camera roll on your iPhone. When you view your entry after you’ve saved and finished, the photo(s) will show up in a smaller thumbnail format, but you can tap the photo to enlarge to full-screen. There is currently a limit of eight photos per entry, and I’m all for having this. After all, it is a journaling app, so photos should probably not be the focus here. It’s a great feature to have, though, especially if you’re creating a moment about something or someone you saw randomly. Also, it’s an app on the iPhone—it’s kind of expected that photos would be a necessary option here.
Earlier I mentioned “social moments,” which are created from importing feeds from your social networks into your Momento journal. Though this may not be ideal for the very-frequent Tweeter or Facebook status updater, this is quite the hidden gem in a journaling app. Why? A) Because when you allow Momento to import your Twitter feed, for example, it will go back in your Tweet history farther than you could imagine was possible. B) Not only can you view these social moments in calendar form, but you can view just a list of all of your tweets that Momento was able to import, and it’s actually much more satisfying than viewing your tweet history or profile in any Twitter client or even on Twitter.com itself.
You can import feeds from networks like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Last.fm. This gives you quite the satisfying little group of social moments that involve social media, photographs, and music, all in one place. See what songs you were “loving” on Last.fm in March of 2009 (my feed pulled these all the way back from 2008, shockingly enough), check out when you uploaded a set of photos from that picnic a few summers ago, or just find that moment when you changed your relationship status to “engaged” on Facebook. It’s an excellent way of skirting around searching those sometimes difficult-to-search social networking sites, and in a much more visually-appealing way, I might add.
There are basically two ways to view your journal entries, maybe three, if you count the tags feature detailed above. If you view in the “Days” listing, your entries will display as rows with just a bit of text from the entry showing, as well as indicators on the right-hand side for any tags you created in that post and a symbol for social moments (if you tweeted that day and are importing your feed, you’ll see Twitter’s “t” symbol, along with the number of tweets you posted that day). Each day will be labeled with how many private moments you had, indicated in red, and how many social moments you had, indicated in blue.
A somewhat hidden feature in the “Days” viewing is the search feature, which allows you to search through entries for particular words of phrases. Get your search bar to show by grabbing and pulling down the list view.
In the calendar view, you can see your entries listed by month. Though you can’t see any text from this view, you can see if you had a private moment, indicated with a red dot, or a social moment, indicated with a blue dot. This seems like the easier viewing option if you’re searching through past moments created or imported from your feeds, as you can quickly flip through the months.
Also, speaking of viewing, Momento has also included a privacy feature that allows you to password-protect the app. This can be turned on or off, but seeing as this is supposed to serve as a real journal of sorts, I’m guessing you’re going to want to take this extra step. Every time you open the app, Momento will ask you for the four-digit passcode you selected in your settings. Some would argue that a passcode should be asked for every time you create a new moment or try to access a different feature in the app, but I’m thinking this would put a serious damper on the journaling experience as a whole that Momento is aiming for.
At the moment, Momento is also not able to export your moments to social networks like Twitter or Facebook, though, according to the FAQ, the developers are considering this for the future. What you can do, however, is export your moments via e-mail. This isn’t a bad idea for backing up your moments in the case of a stolen, lost, or damaged phone, and I actually hope this stays the only exporting option for Momento. The entire idea behind Momento is to simulate a very real diary-like environment on your iPhone. Would you have photocopied the pages of your diary and handed them out to friends at school? Nah. Let’s keep this simple, please.
I saved the best feature of the app, in my opinion, for last here. Though I absolutely love the tags option in Momento, the thing that really makes Momento go above and beyond other journaling apps available is the design and usability of it. Take a look at what the final product of journal entries looks like:
I really appreciate the thought and detail that went into the interface and simplistic design of these journal entries. There are some fun touches like the spine and guidelines of a notebook, but the focus is really on your writing. The design only enhances the experience and simulation of writing in a real diary, and it honestly helped me take this entire idea of journaling as an adult on my phone a little more seriously. I’ve said it before, but the app really doesn’t go the novelty route of designing a lock and key or pink stars to go with entries, like some apps tend to do.
Recap & Conclusion
Released: December 2009
Our Grade: A+
Though I realize I’m going out on a major limb with this statement, I’m fairly confident in it: Momento is definitely one of my top five favorite apps I’ve ever used or even looked at. The design is flawless, the interface is glitch-free and easy to use, and the concept is an amazing accomplishment (and nod to the iPhone). Forgive me for getting a little sensitive here, but I imagine that this is the sort of app that Steve Jobs had in mind when he thought of apps that could really enhance the iPhone user’s experience. Momento really took this seriously, and if you take the plunge of starting to journal with it on your iPhone, I think you’ll probably take it just as seriously.