Microsoft new ink-first app Journal

If you’re a Surface tablet owner or just someone who prefers to use ink over a keyboard, you might be looking for an app that prioritises the pen. There is a new Microsoft app for that: Journal. Journal is Microsoft new ink-first app.

Journal isn’t just a new Microsoft app, it’s a new Windows app. This week Microsoft released Microsoft Journal in Windows 11 style with all new colours and materials. This new release will roll out between April 5 and April 8, according to Microsoft. You can download it from the Microsoft Store.

How does MS Journal work

Journal is important for two reasons. Firstly Microsoft tries to offer everything pen and paper does, plus more. And secondly Microsoft tends to migrate features that it develops within individual apps to the larger Windows and app environment. Journal may represent a future version of Windows.

Technically Microsoft Journal is part of the Microsoft Garage, an app incubator that sometimes (but not always) produces a full-fledged application. Journal is notable because Microsoft designed it as an ink-first application. That means eliminating certain conventions: erasing e-ink by, for example, turning the pen or pressing a button. Journal’s user interface is also page-based. Finally, Journal looks at what you write, tries to figure out what you’re writing and offers suggestions for manipulating that text.

That’s the difference between MS Journal and for example OneNote, which relies on typed text and supplements it with inked notes and drawings. Journal recognises what you write, much like the updated Microsoft Lens app that was recently introduced, and can translate it into text behind the scenes. Since Journal is connected to Microsoft 365, a block of text can then be copied to Word. Journal is also integrated into the Calendar app so you can scribble notes during meetings.

Microsoft new ink-first app Journal

Other MS Journal functionality

Using Journal seems to be slightly different from Microsoft’s other apps. First, there is no pan and zoom- Journal provides you with a page and you can only scroll up and down.

More important however are the new gestures. Circle or lasso a block of text and Journal knows you’re selecting it. Errors are scrawled out, not erased, and Journal will then remove the eliminated characters. Put dots in front of a list and Journal knows it’s bulleted text. It also appears that Journal can also import PDF files.

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