App Reviews /

Daylio: A Professional Review

Mood Disorders
Daylio Screenshots

Pros

  • Easy to customize
  • The app is free and many features available without purchase of the premium version of the app
  • App provides support for interpretation of data, making the statistics easy to understand

Cons

  • Must purchase the app for more sophisticated, in-depth statistics
  • Limited guidance on how to utilize app content
  • No direct research supporting the use of Daylio itself


Reviewed on: November 18, 2020

About this Professional

Morgan Hubbell, M.A., AMFT

Reading Time: 4 minutes Morgan Hubbell is a registered associate marriage and family therapist who works as a school-based mental health professional in Southern California. She is particularly interested in social-emotional apps for children and helping parents integrate these apps into their children’s technology use.

Product Description

Daylio is a micro-diary that tracks users’ moods, activities, habits, and goals. Users begin by choosing the mood (e.g, rad, good, meh, okay, awful) they feel at that time followed by the activities they did that day (e.g., exercise, work, time with friends, etc.). The app’s moods and activities are pre-set, but are easily changed to best fit the user’s own emotions and daily life. After choosing activities, users can type extra thoughts or feelings they have during the check-in in a small space under the activities. The frequency of check-ins is decided by the user, although screenshots in advertisements show check-ins once per day. After check-in, users can use the calendar to see the moods chosen throughout the month or use the statistics page to see more detailed patterns.

The app provides statistics to show patterns in mood over time with weekly, monthly, and yearly reports. The statistics can be manipulated to show activities that frequently occur during specific moods or how often a user selects a particular mood or activity. Users are greeted by data in a variety of different formats, such as a line graph, bar graph, or pie chart. Users can also export the information in the app to an excel spreadsheet or PDF format for further exploration of personal habits and trends in mood. Daylio is intended for long-term use by the general public to provide insight into the user’s patterns moods, activities, and daily habits. Daylio facilitates this by unlocking achievements, such as, “going strong” after many entries and “complex person” when users identify many different moods.

Recommendations for Use

This app is intended for use by the general public, particularly those who are curious to track their moods or habits. The app is helpful for those attempting to increase insight and self-awareness. 

Users with mild-to-moderate mental health issues may benefit from the app in the same way: increased insight and self-awareness of mood and daily activities. However, the app is not advertised for people with mental health issues and this population may find general tracking to be limited if they have unique needs. For example, some people with mental health issues may need an app that encourages check-ins several times per day (Malik, Goodwin, & Holmes, 2012). Users are able to check-in as often as they want, but can only set one daily reminder in the free version of the app. Multiple daily reminders are available only in the premium version. Users may decide to create their own reminders outside of the app. 

Some achievements in the app may also be inappropriate (or give a good laugh) for those with mental health conditions, such as the achievement called “Complex Person: Things are getting emotional.” 

Daylio’s reporting functions are basic and best understood with a lot of data collected over time. Users may not fully understand their mood or activity patterns until nearly one month of data is collected. The app does not provide suggestions on how to best use these reporting functions. The app presents the same data in several different ways, so users are able to frequently return to the graphics that they best understand. Knowledge of higher-level statistics is not necessary to understand the analysis in the app.

Content

 The content of the app reflects basic emotions and activities. Users can edit and write in their moods and activities and completely erase Daylio’s examples if they choose. Daylio advertises itself as a micro-diary and to this effect, it fulfills the purpose that it states it is for. Users completely customize and write in the app in the same way a traditional diary or journal is written into. 

Generally, mood-tracking apps have not been thoroughly researched, but it is known that self-monitoring and mood-tracking can lead to increased insight into one’s emotional well-being (Caldeira, Chen, Chan, Pham, Chen, & Zheng, 2018). The app also utilizes graphs and charts to demonstrate patterns over time, which research has shown to be helpful for mood-tracking participants (Walsh, Golden, & Priebe, 2016). Daylio has not been evaluated for effectiveness and does not claim any of its features are supported by research. It is important to note that although mood-tracking is important for mental health conditions, Daylio does not provide any education or additional support for those with mental health issues who use the app. 

Ease of Use and User Experience 

The navigation of the app is very simple. Several features are found on multiple pages (e.g., users can add new moods and activities during check-in or on a separate page within the app). The primary features are clearly labeled for ease of navigation between the calendar, statistics, and entry pages. However, some of the secondary features are simply marked with an arrow. Many of the secondary features lead to eye-opening statistics, but some users may rarely utilize the feature because the arrow label is not noticeable on the page.

The app’s mood and activity features are simple to learn, however, the app’s statistics page presents many different graphics, statistics, and alternate ways to view data which may take time for the user to learn and utilize. There are no prompts that explain the statistics or examples of how to utilize them, which may delay user learning. 

Visual Design and User Interface

The app heavily relies on a simple design of boxes or rectangles to contain small bits of information, particularly to label each individual check-in and communicate the statistics. Each clickable item in the app is bordered in a rectangle. This is patterned throughout every page except the calendar, which uses circles to define each clickable item. The app also uses color to highlight moods, leading mood to be the defining feature of check-ins. Activities are always purple, which may be confusing to some users because purple is also used as a mood color. 

The basic design makes it easier to absorb the statistics and data. Each graphic is its own defined box so the user’s attention is drawn to a single graphic before moving onto the next one. Each data graphic is colorful and unique in its presentation of the data. For example, the monthly mood chart is a line graph while the “days in a row” graphic is simply a chain of green circles with a checkmark in the middle to designate a check-in that was made that day.

Overall Impression

I found my experience with Daylio to be both enjoyable and easy. The easy customization of the app made it feel very “me” when checking in because I could use my own language to describe how I felt and tailor my activities to be as specific or as broad as I wanted. I increased my insight about my mood, particularly how my mood was affected by certain activities in my day. 

I believe users who are curious about their moods over time may benefit from the insight this app attempts to generate with its reporting features including graphs and statistics. Users with serious mental health issues or difficulty functioning due to frequent mood changes may find this app limiting compared to their more specific needs.

References

Caldeira, C., Chen, Y., Chan, L., Pham, V., Chen, Y., & Zheng, K. (2018). Mobile apps for mood tracking: an analysis of features and user reviews. AMIA … Annual Symposium proceedings. AMIA Symposium, 2017, 495–504.

Malik, A., Goodwin, G. M., & Holmes, E. A. (2012). Contemporary Approaches to Frequent Mood Monitoring in Bipolar Disorder. Journal of experimental psychopathology, 3(4), 572–581. 

Walsh, S., Golden, E., & Priebe, S. (2016). Systematic review of patients’ participation in and experiences of technology-based monitoring of mental health symptoms in the community. BMJ open, 6(6), e008362.

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