Narrato’s user-interface is simple, uncluttered black text on white background. Don’t look for too much color from here on though. Set up your account with an email and a password for security. I know, its pretty light-weight, but it is security. On the first entry page, pressing the down arrow in the left corner opens the main menu consisting of user-customizable icons. Day-by-Day (calendar) opens to your on-going journal entries with the most recent up top (thank you!). It also shows where you are (town), the temp plus the weather, and a few navigational tips. If you had added an avatar in the account set-up your little clip art or picture would be viewable here, too. Clicking the down arrow again brings back the menu which also includes Journals (notebook), Settings (gears), the Store (ribbon) and About (question mark inside a circle). I usually hit up the Settings immediately to see just how much customization can be done, and it was adequate. Setting the temp to Fahrenheit, as opposed to Celsius or Kelvin (really?) led me on a Wikipedia chase to hunt down Kelvin and make sure it wasn’t an R&B music artist from the 70’s. But that’s just me.
By tapping the thought bubble in the row at the bottom of the screen, the app begins by adding a new entry area. The journalist is presented with two icons in upper left screen. An X to close, and a keyboard, which offers, strangely, a scrolling calendar. Tap on the blank page and begin entering text. We were instructed to tap and hold to edit the entry, but that’s not completely accurate. It’s more like tap and a little longer hold and then release. Post actions include edit, rejournal (shows you any other journals you might be keeping so you can “rejournal”), delete or cancel. Tap on an entry and it opens the date with a gradient background. There’s so much more that could be done with that. Saving an entry is a simple click on the check mark.
To encourage you to begin writing, they offer a few motivational questions like, “What are you thinking about?” More of these and not repeating them everyday would make me smile. Using photos is heavily encouraged to “add more context to the memories”. How to get to them is noted below. However, there is no landscape orientation available for either photos or your text entries. The dreaded emotion icon requests that you tell the app how you’re feeling, but it can be skipped, and I did. And the last graphic represents locations if you choose to add them. The app pulls up a map powered by FourSquare, hones in on your GPS and offers a number of “near you” businesses. I found it helpful as I’m new to my neighborhood.
The Lifestream, the actual heart of the journaling app, is an area accessed by tapping three little blue dots in the Day-to-Day feature’s upper right corner. It is the place where all “your activities come together as they happen.” It is very similar to the automated journaling movement that Everyday Timeline popularized a year ago. You can connect to social networking like Foursquare, Twitter and Instagram. FaceBook addicts, your day is coming. Narrato developers seem to think that pulling in your content from any of these social networks gives you more to write about. I seem to do just fine, thank you, without any of them. Below the social sites add-on, are all the photos from your iPhone’s Camera Roll. There is no access to your photo library.
Narroto is able to be backed up via the www.narrato.co website where you can download your data files though I couldn’t get them to open in DropBox or DocsToGo. As a secondary resource, the app claims to also back up to iCloud. Now they just need to tell us which one so it can be accessed from offline or online. Email exporting will be my backup of choice until later versions appear. There is no search feature – not by date, tag or image. Got to have that. My last complaint, I promise, is that the Help area is more to help the developers via user suggestions than to solve user issues.
I suspect that the Narrato developers are already hard at work fixing these assorted, but fairly important, concerns for the next release. I like it. Really. I do. Add some color, a search feature, better export and back up amenities and I’m there. I’m just not there yet. And Narrato isn’t quite there yet either.
Marianne Jelley is an IOS/OS staff writer for EasyJournaling.com, a college instructor, seminar facilitator, a recent divorcee´ (again), a voracious reader, the mother of three grown sons and grandmother to her 3 grand-girls. She and her Jack Russell Terrier, Tucker, live on the Long Island Sound, in Connecticut.