Introduction: Journal – AI Powered Note Taking App
It has been a little over a year since the launch of Journal – an AI-powered note-taking app built by Microsoft Garage . The app is now becoming a full-fledged Microsoft Windows app instead of an experimental project. Microsoft this week announced the new note-taking app will now be called “Microsoft Journal” and allow users to create drawings and capture their thoughts on Windows tablets, 2-in-1s, and other devices with a pen.
In the beginning, journal was designed to offer users an alternative to grabbing a pen and paper when inspiration strikes, while still allowing them to express themselves through writing.
At the time, the company explained that it had launched an ink-focused application called Journal in 2002 and continued to provide the “ink” functionality across apps including Whiteboard, OneNote, PowerPoint and more.
Journal wanted to take the concept further by combining the digital ink input with AI.
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As a result, the application’s AI was trained to automatically recognize and categorize the things users write, including headings, starred items, keywords, and even drawings.
Users can tap the cue on the side of the page for some drawings and headings to select content and take other actions like “move” or “copy”.
In addition, AI enhanced the search capabilities of the app, so you could view your old notes, lists, sketches, and other content based on the AI’s understanding of your handwriting. Furthermore, artificial intelligence powered new gestures, like scratch out and instant lasso, that let you switch between tools more easily without having to switch modes.
In addition to its AI focus, Journal included drag-and-drop capabilities for moving content from one page to another; ability to markup PDFs; keyword search with filters; and Microsoft 365 integration for meeting notes. Users could scroll through pages or select text using their fingers.
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“We are entering an age of computer-aided reasoning, where AI accelerates the tasks that people do, and makes us all more productive,” said Stevie Bathiche, technical fellow and leader of Microsoft’s Applied Sciences, speaking about the app’s exit from Garage. “Journal shows just how powerful an experience can be when software anticipates your intentions. This is just the beginning.”
When the project was a Garage project, the team learned that users have individual preferences for how they interact with content when using touch and a digital pen, yet one method wasn’t clearly preferred. Journal’s users also found that annotating documents was one of its biggest uses, with PDF imports accounting for more than half of its pages created.
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As part of Journal’s official launch, it has been updated to look and feel like Windows 11, with new colors and materials. In the near term, the team says it will focus on user feedback and a backlog of new features. During the week of April 5-8 , the app will be available for download directly from the Microsoft Store . The app will work on Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices.