Penzu Goes HTML5 Mobile

Awhile ago we took a look at Digital Journaling with Penzu and since then the Penzu team has been hard at work making their app even more outstanding and feature rich. The biggest changes, however, have been the addition of mobile support using the power of HTML5—including offline support.

With well rounded support for all the major mobile platforms, Penzu is certainly a web app showing others how its done. We’ll take a quick look at a few of the new features in the desktop app then check out what they’re offering for mobile devices.

Penzu has also offered to give 1 Year Free Pro accounts to a few lucky readers! Read on for more info.

Previous Review

If you haven’t had a chance to reader our review of Penzu back in March, it’s a great place to start for a more in-depth initial look. A Private Web: Digital Journal with Penzu

To summarize our last review, we were very pleased with the Penzu app. It functioned very well, looked great and filled a void where not everyone may want to share everything they blog. However, it lacked a few features we would’ve liked to see and, like all new web apps, needed to do some more maturing. Seven months later and it’s clear they’ve been doing exactly that—maturing and developing the app.

New Features

Custom Backgrounds

As I mentioned in our last review, Penzu needed the ability to upload custom backgrounds. While they have some nice backgrounds to choose from, it’s hard to beat offering users the ability to upload something they really want. I’m very happy to report that users can now upload custom backgrounds!

Custom Backgrounds

Custom Backgrounds

As you can see, the ability to upload a custom background is now available. I’ve uploaded a small repeating image I liked, which has the delete button at the top of the thumbnail.

Custom backgrounds are only available to Pro users and are limited to 5MB.

Journal via Email

You are now able to create posts via email, including attaching photos. You’re also able to forward emails to add full conversations to your journal, a nifty feature for sure!

Journal via Email

Journal via Email

The desktop web app has certainly had some great improvements, but let’s get on to the awesome new mobile app!

See more of the great features Penzu Pro offers here.

Penzu Mobile

The best new “feature” Penzu has added is mobile journaling, which takes advantage of HTML5′s killer capabilities, including offline support. There’s no app to download, no updates to hassle with, just go to http://penzu.com and login to start journaling.

Penzu Mobile on the iPhone

Penzu Mobile on the iPhone

I was happy to see Penzu provided a fun video explaining the advantages of their app along with rocking a fantastic mobile design interface, which was to be expected since their desktop interface is quite sexy itself. Adding the app to the home screen offered a pleasant surprise with a high quality app icon (lower right of the screen). Too many web apps miss this little detail but it all counts!

Penzu Mobile Pad

Penzu Mobile Pad

Once you’ve logged in you can jump straight to your pad and get to writing, view your entries or change the app lock settings. As you can see, the app doesn’t use the typical native iPhone app design but rather follows in suite with the desktop app’s design (which I actually like). From the entries page you can create new, tag, delete or search posts.

An important feature to note here is the ability for the app to lock after a specified number of minutes (changeable via settings page). You can unlock the app with your chosen 4-digit PIN. Penzu keeps your privacy in mind at all times!

Penzu iPhone Posting

Penzu iPhone Posting

Writing a post was quick and easy and even auto-saved the post so you never loose what you write. It’s also synced online so you can jump from platform to platform and immediately pick up where you left off last. From the post page you can quickly add tags, share or even password protect the post.

An important feature to note is the mobile version of Penzu uses the same high security 128-bit SSL as the desktop version. You’re always secure, no matter which platform you’re using.

Available Platforms

For a web app, I must admit that I’m impressed with the number of supported platforms. Not many web apps support such a diverse selection of mobile devices. Penzu supports the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android devices and even BlackBerry devices (often forgotten).

Available Platforms

Available Platforms

Penzu also has an even more robust iPad app in the works!

Performance

While a web app can come close to feeling like a native app, none I’ve tried really make it there. That being said, Penzu’s mobile web app is actually pretty impressive. It doesn’t feel like a native app, but it’s certainly among the fastest I’ve used lately. I have to hand it to the Penzu team, they’ve done an incredible job with new mobile app!

Final Thoughts

Penzu is clearly a killer web app on all fronts, it’s as simple as that. From the desktop through all the major mobile platforms, Penzu steals the show with a fantastic and consistently designed UI, amazing web app performance and top notch usability.

I’m aware that overly praising reviews tend to come off as paid reviews. I can assure you this is not one of them. If there was something I didn’t like about the app, you’d know about it. Having said that, I encourage you to go try the app (it’s free, you have nothing to loose) and if you find something you don’t like, let us know in the comments below or let Penzu know directly. I can assure you they take constructive criticism very well and user feedback is what they use to make their app even better.

Great work Penzu team, I look forward to seeing new features down the road!

Five 1-Year Free Penzu Pro Accounts

The Penzu team has offered a few lucky AppStorm readers free Pro accounts for a year. For a chance to win one, leave a comment below with a like or dislike (constructive please) of Penzu’s app (mobile or desktop). We’ll select three winners at random via comments below and announce them this coming Friday, October 8th.

But wait, you said five?! Yes, I did. Make sure you’re following @webappstorm and stay tuned this week. We’ll give out the two remaining Pro accounts at random.

Please Note: Envato staff or people who have written more than two articles or tutorials for AppStorm are ineligible to enter.

Random giveaway code 1: Penzu5
Random giveaway code 2:


Summary

Penzu is a free online diary and personal journal focused on privacy. Easily keep a secret diary or a private journal of notes and ideas securely on the web.

  • Penzu  | 
  • Free / $19 per year  | 
  • Penzu Inc.
10
  • http://markavey.com Mark Avey

    I only just “discovered” Penzu yesterday and immediately started my own personal journal. To my surprise, I found I’d added a complete page of entries by the end of the day and found it to be a very therapeutic exercise! I’ll definitely be continuing with it.

    Good to hear of the enhanced mobile support. Will be handy being able to access it on the go on my Android.

  • Katie Walker

    Must have been reading my mind. I have a nasty habit of venting on the internet, mostly where the people I am venting at can see me. There is just something oddly pleasing about screaming at the computer. It seems so unreal, but my little rage sessions often come with giant consequences. I think this is exactly what I need. I’m very paranoid too, hopefully this app will protect me and my information from those evil aliens :).

    I can see some other uses for this military-grade security too. Passwords, codes, secret CIA stuff. Oops. See what I mean. I need this app. Signing up soon.

  • http://www.websitespro.net Leighton Smith

    I have been using Penzu for many months and I could not be more satisfied! I searched around for a private online journal and Penzu was the obvious choice! I would love a free Pro account since I do have an iPhone.

  • David Spancer

    I first heard about Penzu here on appstorm. I keep waffling on actually getting started journaling, but it seems pretty clear now that the kick in the pants that I need to get moving is signing up with Penzu. Looking forward to seeing how it goes.

  • Yifan Jin

    I like Penzu after using it for a while but one thing I dislike about it is that I can’t put a image or a drawing. In a real journal, I like to put a little drawing of something I wrote about or am thinking about. I wish Penzu could add that feature in the future. Then, it can really replace a physical journal (Except when Penzu goes down :( ).

    • http://henninghorn.dk Henning Horn

      @Yifan Jin

      You are able to upload images to an entry, even in the free version. Just click the camera icon and you’ll be able to add a image from your computer or from a Flickr.

  • David Spancer

    Okay, it seems pretty cool. I’ve already found a couple of issues.
    • When you open the sidebar to show your documents/entries, you can easily click on the (X) button do delete any entry, without any “are you sure” or “undo” feature. This is scary.

    • I feel like simple text formatting should be a part of the free version. I’m all for separating free from paid (especially for this low price of $20/year), but not being able to use even bold and italic or indenting makes me feel like not using this at all, not even for a free trial.

    • I’d love to see a pop-out window for journal entry that is just the notepad, no other features. (Like the pop-out window for Google Chat in Gmail, etc.) It would be great to keep that simple window open and off to the size all the time.

    Still looking forward to seeing how I feel overall. This seems great.

    • http://henninghorn.dk Henning Horn

      @David Spancer

      If you click the (X) button in the sidebar, it doesn’t delete your entry. The sidebar only shows “Recent entries” – it’s a shortcut functionality. By clicking the (X) button, you only remove the entry from the recent entries list, you don’t delete the entry.

  • Michelle P.

    I’m new to Penzu (having come to find it thru 750words.com) and I’m very intrigued. Being a writer, I’m always on the lookout for new programs that can assist me in getting my work down and on the road too! Keep up the great work.

  • LaToya

    Penzu is amazing! I’ve been using it for a few months now. I love that it’s private first and foremost. The new feature for emailing journal entries sounds great! I’ll definitely have to try it :) Being able to use Penzu on my droid would be awesome too!

  • Martie Gee

    I have never used online journaling before..But after reading this I thought I would try it..I LOVE IT!! I can use it as my children’s “about my life” book instead of a baby book. this way it can never get lost or ruined as well. Now I just have to get busy typing! I love that I can share it as well so the really funny stuff can be passed on! thanks for writing this or I would still have my pen out!!

  • yasmeen

    I discovered penzu a few
    months ago. I almost immediately upgraded my account.
    I’ve even had my teenage daughter open an account as well.
    I like being able to add entries from my phone.
    Can’t think of one complaint honestly.

  • Arania Jain

    The app looks great!!

    Though that’s the only thing I can say after looking at the screenshots since to try out the app, you need to be a pro member. It would be better if there are 2 versions of the app, one for the free users with basic features and one for the pro members with added features. That way everyone can use Penzu from their mobile device and this will increase adaptability of Penzu as well.

  • http://mytutor.us.to Michael

    That looks really great! I am in Journalism right now and I love to express myself through writing about things that are meaningful to me. I’ve been using the Notes app to store thoughts and ideas lately (ever since I switched from Tumblr to Blogger), so I’m super excited for this app. :)

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  • Pavel

    Penzu is a memory for my notes, my sounds, and all those words of a dream storm.

  • Abner

    Love the app, something I was looking for for a long time, but I do wish that the public links could be available as a “blogroll” so that this could become my standard blogging platform as well. That would be the only feature I would like to change.

  • http://blog.bioon.net/user1/2081/index.shtml redondoself

    I love penzu! It’s charming and easy to use. I have taken it as my online dairy book.

  • http://http://www.theipodspot.com ipod spot

    This app really suits my needs. It gives me an ease every time I wanted to publish something online. Uber amazing!

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  • Andre

    I have the pro version and I can’t seem to add pics from my iPhone!! Major drawback!

  • http://www.websitespro.net Leighton Smith

    Penzu is an incredible service that is so feature rich and secure! It really makes you want to journal even if you never have before. I would love the pro account because of even better features and integration with my iPhone.

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  • http://www.googleplusjournal.com Al-Amin @ Google Plus

    I like Penzu after using it for a while but one thing I dislike about it is that I can’t put a image or a drawing. I think you should solve the problem.

    Btw, Nice post with image description. Waiting to get your next. Thanks for sharing. :-)

  • zaara

    i actually really need this :P i think this is a brilliant app. i cant use the penzu account cuz my laptop broke nd we r gettin a new one maybe next year nd i dont noe how to stay in touch with this journal. thts y but i know i wont get it ;(

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