Jan
9
2014

Capturing The Now with Kennedy

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Kennedy

Developed by Brendan Dawes, Kennedy is an interesting new take on mobile journaling focused on “capturing the now” with a $1.99 iPhone app.

Kennedy is a data-oriented journaling app that can save your current location, date and time, weather conditions, what music you're listening to, and even headlines from the news in individual collections of personal data points called Captures. When you open the app, you're presented with a beautifully animated “Now” button that, once tapped, will start gathering data from built-in iOS services for location, time, and music; after a few seconds, the “Now” will become a list showing the data points that were captured by the app, such as “Ten past three, on a slighly cloudy Thursday afternoon in Viterbo”. When saved, Captures can be accessed by tapping a list button in the lower portion of the main screen; you can search for specific text in your Captures, as well as edit them at any time.

You can customize the amount and kind of data that's captured by Kennedy: in the Settings app, you can change the default RSS feed for news headlines from Yahoo News to something else; unfortunately, you can't add multiple RSS feeds or import your favorite news sources from an RSS service or Twitter lists, which somewhat limits the number of headline choices you'll have. For locations, you can tap on a location's name to open a built-in Maps view, but you can also edit a Capture, tap the location's name, and choose manually from a subset of alternative venues fetched through Foursquare (the same can be done for headlines if you don't like the one that gets picked by default).

Kennedy

In spite of the possibility to also add notes and photos to a Capture, I don't see Kennedy as an alternative to the personal journaling experience offered by Day One. While there's certainly some overlap between the two – especially in how both apps feature support for weather and location information – I see Kennedy as more of a record button for your context than a diary. Day One is where I write down my thoughts and memories and save personal photos; Kennedy is a contextual data-capturing tool that resembles a journal.

Kennedy can be used as a journal to relive past moments, but I'm more interested in the app's data-oriented approach. The developer is aware of this, and Kennedy comes with built-in continuous Dropbox backup for your Captures, which are archived in Dropbox as a compressed JSON file. Captures can also be exported directly within the app as JSON or CSV files via email. I like this idea, as JSON is a format that's easy enough to parse with scripting languages like Python, which could pose some interesting automation and inter-app communication possibilities in the future. I feel comfortable knowing that Kennedy doesn't use a proprietary data format that would be impossible for me to read years from now.

Kennedy is not a full-featured journaling app and is no replacement for Day One. However, I'm intrigued by the app's simple interaction of pressing a button to capture your context, and I think it's an especially relevant topic now, as our devices have access to a variety of sensors and data sources with information about our surroundings and ourselves. Kennedy could use better integration with the iPhone 5s' M7 motion data, and, aside from extended support for RSS and music playback (only the Music.app is supported now), I'd also like to see data visualizations for patterns over time built into the app, without relying on manual CSV or JSON parsing to create charts for Captures.

Kennedy is an interesting take on contextual journaling and has potential for the future. You can get it at $1.99 on the App Store.

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