Memoir: A Social Diary App

Like many people, I’ve been saying for a while that iOS 7 really opens up the floodgates for old app categories to be reinvigorated with smartly-designed new contenders. That being said, I hadn’t really thought about the diary app. I’m a huge fan of Day One, but see opportunities for other apps to do something really unique.

This is one of the reasons I immediately signed up for the queue to get access to Memoir, a really unique diary and memories app that’s at once private and incredibly social. This is a diary app built on social networks you already use, and it’s got some cool tricks up its sleeves. Read on to find out whether or not Memoir is worth investing in.Like the article? You should subscribe and follow us on twitter.

What Memoir Is

I’ve heard Memoir described as a diary with Google Now-like features, and I think that’s a pretty good way to describe how it works. To get the full functionality of the app, you really have to log into it with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram. You can also connect it to Memoir for Mac to get a peak at images on your Mac — particularly useful if you take a lot of pictures with a DSLR (or any non-iPhone camera) like I do. (The Mac app lives in your menubar and doesn’t take up a lot of space at all.)

Memoir is all about finding memories you might have otherwise forgotten about.

Memoir is all about finding memories you might have otherwise forgotten about.

You’ll note that there are some services you can’t sync the app with — App.net, Tumblr, and Vine all come to mind off the top of my head. If you’re extensive users of any of those platforms, you might feel like you’ve been left in the dark.

The app also displays memories from today as well, so it's easy to keep track of everything.

The app also displays memories from today as well, so it’s easy to keep track of everything.

What the app does at this point is actually kind of magical. It attempts to display relevant data from your social history, with an emphasis on photos. You’ll catch on pretty quick that it’s simply searching “this date in history” and pulls up where you were a year ago, which doesn’t seem magical, but it’s the effect of suddenly seeing this information. I wish that Day One had a similar effect. Diaries are incredibly useful, but in bringing up your past so frequently, Memoir adds value to both using your app and using social networks. The app will become more valuable to you over time. I think it’s brilliant.

Of course, you can add posts within the app as well. You don’t have to rely on exterior services to get anything out of Memoir. Adding a post is as easy as tapping the Compose button. You can add a photo or location and adjust when you’re adding the item in question to your diary. Memoir also has a title field, which separates it further form the likes of Day One.

You can add posts from within the app as well.

You can add posts from within the app as well.

When all of the information is compiled, it also becomes searchable. You can search by date or keyword, but most notable, you can search by person. This is because Memoir isn’t just about drafting memories, but also about sharing them.

If your Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare friends sign up for the service, you can search their names to see all the times you’ve interacted with them or events you were both at. If you both checked in to the same restaurant on Foursquare, for example, Memoir will tell you.

For example, one of my friends is using the service, and when we were catching up over poutines and beer at a bar a couple months ago, we both signed into Foursquare. She took a couple pictures, which I never received. Memoir knew that she took pictures and has her pictures stored in the Memoir cloud, so I was able to request them from her with the tap of a button. Honestly, how cool is that?

You can even request photos from friends if you've both attended the same event.

You can even request photos from friends if you’ve both attended the same event.

In fact, the more your friends use the service with you, the more useful the information Memoir provides will become. If you check in with your partner on Foursquare a lot, Memoir will note that and try to provide interesting memories afterwards of you and your significant other from earlier events. If friends of yours have photos from a couple years earlier, the app tells you. And it does all this in a single feed, making it easy to scroll through a list of information and photos.

It’s all a very seamless end-to-end user experience, but I have to admit that I feel a slight disconnect. Although it’s very cool, I’m worried that one service has access to all of this information. Memoir approaches Google levels of creepiness, and in some ways exceeds that. If you’re like me, despite Memoir’s awesome feature set, you might not be comfortable giving away your information like that. It’s a free service, and I have no idea how Memoir intends to make money down the road, but I worry that my information is (or will end up being) at risk. Although Memoir’s website includes copy insisting Memoir is 100% private, there’s no real assurances that won’t change in the future.

The Design

Despite my qualms, though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the app’s design. Memoir is beautiful. It’s an app I want to pop open and check and use on a daily basis, and it’s honestly kind of addictive. Memoir plays with the iOS 7 interface with some unique twists.

I think the design is really nice. I love the blurred background.

I think the design is really nice. I love the blurred background.

Scrolling down through posts gives you a quick glance at your history. You can search for specific days or just tap on any day to see everything from the past few years. There’s a little bit of a lag as Memoir queries all the different services, but that’s to be expected with a huge database like this (especially if you’re logged into everything).

What I like most are the little touches. The entire app is transparent in the same way that Control Centre is transparent, and the app’s background is customizable. I’ve got a picture of my dog as the background, and while the fogged glass effect Memoir’s using for transparency means I can’t make out the dog’s details, I do feel like the app is a little more unique to me than it otherwise would be.

My Thoughts

I really like Memoir. I think the app is really smartly designed. I love the little touches, like the transparent and customizable background images. I love the experience, and the way it takes me on a trip through memory lane every time I open it. I also think that investing in Memoir is going to be a really rewarding experience for both you and any friends of yours that are using it.

All that being said, I can’t help but feel clammy about giving any one service my information. Although Memoir is a beautiful way to look through my memories and share new ones, I don’t think it’s a replacement for private diary apps like Day One. Think of this like another social media tool. Whether or not Memoir is for you is going to depend on whether or not you’re comfortable sharing this much content with friends or an online service. I plan on keeping the app for the time being. I think it’s gorgeous and a really cool idea. I recommend it now, but suggest cautious optimism. If Memoir can respect our privacy, we might have a real winner on our hands.


Summary

Memoir is a beautiful loaded with some really cool functionality, but I do have some privacy concerns.

8