I recently started a journal to keep track of my thoughts and life events. It’s been too long since I’ve used pen and paper to write, so I decided to do it in a more modern way. As an Android app enthusiast, I scoured the Play Store for the most appealing note-taking app. I soon found out there were only a few apps that met my standards, and Flava won me over almost instantly. In addition to having a new approach to note-taking, it’s the ideal journal app that blends nicely with the phone’s Holo interface. It’s not just a digital version of the old fashioned notebook, it’s that and so much more.
Your Memories in a Visual Feed
Flava does not look like the usual note-taking/journal app — it doesn’t file away your notes like pages in a book. Instead, it shows your content in a timeline. It looks very similar to Path, especially with the dates popping up when you scroll through the timeline. The minimalist menu bar is on top, showing your avatar and name on the top left and doubling as a drop down menu for more viewing options. A little red + button sits on the top right corner, ready for adding a new entry.
Journal entries are shown individually as they are added. Depending on the type of content, an icon or image is used. Photos show the image thumbnails, sound clips show a mic icon, and media files like songs and books show thumbnails taken from the web. These appear in the order that they were added, regardless of the time and date indicated on the entry.
Your Life in Multimedia
One of the things I really like with Flava is the variety of objects you can insert in your entries. This is not just a journal for writing, it’s also a place for keeping images, music, books, sound clips, and even moods. In a way, it reminds me of that box or tin can where we keep our most precious souvenirs, like tickets to our first concert, or birthday cards from loved ones. Almost all life experiences that can be captured, digitized and immortalized can be kept within this app.
When adding a new entry, you will see a row of tag icons on the bottom for extra content. You can add photos or videos from your camera, sound clips, music, movies, books, a location or a website link. The last two icons to the right are for moods and tags.
Note that adding music, movies and books requires internet access, as these connect to Amazon and iTunes for track or book information. Adding a location also needs a network connection, and either GPS or Wi-Fi, for accessing locations through Foursquare.
Although adding tags and media content on an entry is a great feature, it still comes down to whether Flava is a good app for writing and recording your thoughts. Surprisingly, it is. I found myself typing away, letting my thoughts flow freely without getting distracted by anything in the app’s interface. The objects/tags row is way below the text field, which gives you plenty of room to type and focus on your text.
Recall Feelings, Not Dates
Inserting objects and tags in your entries might seem like a random thing to do, but Flava’s sorting feature makes it all come together in a seamless way. Sliding the screen to the left reveals the Sort menu, where you can tap on an icon to filter your timeline. You can select more than one tag or icon for a more specific search.
For a faster search, you can swipe to the right (from the main menu) and use the Search bar that appears on top.
Journals are generally private, and Flava recognizes that. There is an option to assign a four-digit password to the app, and it will always prompt the user to enter it once activated.
Other settings include Sync Modes, which can be changed from Auto, Wi-Fi only or Manual. The app allows free syncing to its own cloud servers. Unfortunately for now, Flava provides a meager 310 MB storage space. Syncing into the cloud would require you to sign up for a free Flava account. It also has multi-platform support with a web and iOS version of the app.
There are a great number of things to like in Flava, but there are also some minor flaws in the app’s beta design. For one, the timeline may not be as accurate as one might hope. The app shows journal entries in the order they were added, even if you edited them to reflect an earlier time or date. This seems like a contradiction to the whole timeline concept, so I hope it gets fixed in future updates.
Although Flava is in its infancy, I already find the app fresh and different from all others. Going to its main screen is like viewing a Facebook news feed, only it’s not of my friends, but my own private thoughts and memories. This, for me, is more interesting than flipping page after page of random content. Despite some of its downfalls, I consider Flava to be one of the most interesting journal apps so far.