When I met Siqi Chen, founder and CEO of the startup behind a new journaling app called Heyday, a few weeks ago, he said he’d built an app that offered a “more holistic” approach to tracking your life on your iPhone. Well, the app launched on Thursday, and since then, I’ve been testing it out to see whether Chen was right.
My initial conclusion? First, this is a journaling app that I’m actually going to stick with. Second, I need to get out more.
It helps, I suppose, that I got to hear Chen lay out his case for using the app. He said it’s meant for people who have wanted to keep a physical journal but never managed to find the time or motivation to do so consistently — and I’m guilty as charged.
With Heyday, that journal gets created automatically from the data and content that’s on your phone — that’s your location and your camera roll for now, but Chen said he plans to add other data sources, and eventually to build “the ultimate artifact and story of your life.”
There are other apps like Rove and Saga that automatically track your location and allow you to add photos, but Chen argued that Heyday is less location focused and, as mentioned above, more holistic. One example is the fact that Heyday, unlike the other apps, doesn’t really track when you’re going from place-to-place — it only cares about where you are when you’re not in transit. (That reflects a different focus but also helps Heyday save battery power.)
AWhen we talk about using the content on your phone, Heyday can even reveal your activity before you installed the app, based on the photos in your photo roll. Of course, that means you need to have stored old photos on your phone, and I haven’t (I usually upload mine to Facebook or Twitter and delete them after a couple of weeks). It also means random photos (the selfie that can out blurry, perhaps, or the receipt that you photographed for your expense report) will show up as well, but it’s easy to delete them. And obviously it’s more useful if you take plenty of photos — when I was out with friends on Saturday (which, along with Saturday night, is basically the only time with interesting content, because it’s the only time I did something interesting) I found myself reminding myself to take more photos than I normally would have.
Which brings up the point that Heyday isn’t going to have much to say if you’re not really doing anything. For most of last week, for example, I was just at home or at the office, and today, I lazed around my apartment, so my Heyday journal for those periods is pretty much blank. But maybe the fact that the app makes me feel vaguely guilty about staying in is a good thing?
Chen also emphasized Heyday’s approach to privacy — basically, there’s no sharing within the app itself, but you can choose to share individual updates on Facebook, Twitter, and email. In contrast, Saga has been adding social features.)
(There was a snafu on the privacy front after the launch, when Heyday accidentally emailed everyone on its waiting list but failed to bcc them, which meant, in the company’s words, that “the email address you used to sign up *on our waiting list* was exposed to all 997 emails on our waiting list.” However, Heyday noted that no accounts were compromised and that it would be implementing “a two-person rule on all future newsletter sends.”)
Just to be clear, when I say that I’ve been using the app for the last few days, I basically turned it on and left it alone, and then I opened it today to find that, yes, there was a pretty accurate representation of what I’ve been up to. So by that standard, it works pretty darn well.
I should also mention that Hey, the startup behind the app, has raised $2 million in funding from Google Ventures, Spark Capital, CrunchFund (which, like TechCrunch, was founded by Michael Arrington), SV Angel, and others.