Being someone with a 2 -in-1 pc that supports a pen, I’ve always been tempted to use my laptop as a full-on replacement for my notebook as I can even write my notes with the included pen like I would in an actual book. Except I noticed that dream of completely replacing paper notes was a bit of a ways off, not just because of the myriad of ergonomic and tactile differences between paper and the touchscreens most of us use today, but also because the software Windows serves up for note-taking with a pen, namely OneNote, is clearly tot optimized for that. Well Microsoft’s Garage lab might finally have something to solve that : say hello to Journal.
Now in case the video above didn’t give enough info, Journal is simply an inking/pen focused note-taking and management app made by Microsoft’s Garage Team. This means it’s technically more of a beta-test project at the moment, but considering how Garage projects usually end up either as official Microsoft apps or integrated into their Office suite, I would put my money on Journal or it’s feature set becoming Official pretty soon. And that’s simply because so far, it’s pretty great. I’ve been using it for about two days now and honestly I love it. I used OneNote for years and while I love it, it always felt clunky when it came to managing inking and text. Journals instead allows a much more hybrid approach to how it implements both pen input as well as text, allowing the two to essentially coexist without weird “blocks” segmenting them in inconvenient ways like OneNote does. It’s easily the biggest fix I needed to actually integrate the two forms of text and with the way Journal segments the sections, it’s easier to take the bits you want and move them somewhere else as well. The AI and smart features aren’t a ruse either you actually can copy text and paste it in a word document. This does require an internet connection when the text has just been entered, but it’s definitely a nice to have. The syncing with your Office 365 account as well is just the kind of extra perk you don’t know you need until you have it. Journal, essentially is the app that Microsoft has needed in order to fully utilize devices that have pen input, and to be fair it could probably be useful on other platforms like iOS and Android as well as note taking apps aren’t as widespread as you would think. In fact it’s Journal is the type of app that feels right at home on not only Microsoft’s Surface devices and other 2-in-1’s like my Lenovo Yoga, but it seems even more built for Microsoft’s still upcoming Surface Neo as well. Microsoft Wants that device to be a book of sorts after all and Lenovo’s X1 Fold can probably benefit as well. And while those devices are $2000+ halo devices that most of us would gawk at, the good thing is Journal is great even on a typical Windows device with touch and pen support too.
So should you check it out? Definitely! After all it’s free as a beta test right now yet it performs near perfectly. And while I know I’m appealing to a niche group of people here as windows tablets or 2 in 1s with pen support aren’t exactly common, this app definitely brings out their full potential. You can download it here and tell me what you think of it in the comments or on our socials. Have fun!