I guess one thing is on every smartphone. And I’m 100% sure, that you’re using this on a daily basis. A news app. Smartphones have made the access to news and information overall so easy. No wonder then that you’re finding a ton of news apps in the App Store. But taking a closer look, the structure of the typical news app is always the same. A feed with images and articles, several topics and maybe a read it later function. Just like some kind of digital newspaper. But you’ve guessed it, I’ve discovered something that takes a whole new approach to consume news. Quartz.
After downloading Quartz, the app is easily identifiable with the big Q and the high contrast of the black and white icon colors. The app icon also features a big circle in the middle that looks like a chat text bubble. By that, the app already introduces what it is all about, without even launching. With the first launch, Quartz renounces on fancy onboarding screens with eye candy and screen-filling animations. Rather it places the user direct the main interface. A chat. Yep. Quartz is a news app that’s 100% a chat interface. And it works brilliantly.
But let’s get back to the onboarding. With some simple, short and clear messages, The app introduces itself to the user and what it is about. Afterward, a blue button appears at the bottom of the screen with a simple action text. The design of the text fields and the action button references the form of chat text bubble again. So, right in the onboarding, the user gets trained to the main action. Pressing those little buttons. Actually, this is pretty much what an onboarding flow should do, and not showing you some insane animations where you swipe 2-3 times across the screen. The onboarding is the very first contact with the app and should introduce the app! The user should familiarize himself with the application. And for me, Quartz gets a big plus here! But hey, things aren’t finished here. That was just the start. Right from the concept alone, I get the impression that Quartz values privacy and a lean flow of information very much. That’s why the user is already prompted with the question to allow notification right from the start. In a kind and defensive formulation. Really smart if you ask me. It brings Quartz to the core values. Short but information-rich news, without stressing the user. After another question, the user is already comfortable with the main action and how to use the app. And with finishing the onboarding, I had a very pleasant smile on my face. Quartz focuses a lot of humor in its choice of words. And sometimes you also find little GIFs. One by one, the puzzle sets itself together to a really enjoyable application.
The Main Action
The onboarding goes fluently over into the main action of the app and finishes with the deliverance of a first news headline. Again, Quartz chooses a very thoughtful way of doing that. Other apps use provoking headings and attention-grabbing images, but Quartz gives you articles and news in a one-sentence summary. One by one you can consume article by article. There is no page with 20+ links and a big information overload. To spice things up, you also get a cute or funny GIF sometimes. With every headline, the user gets two actions that can be executed with the already known blue buttons on the bottom of the screen. This is done in a binary way. On the one hand, the user has the choice to skip further information with a tap on the right button, so you’ll get the next news headline. On the other hand, there’s also a button with some emojis that will let you dig deeper. And here lies another main difference to the typical news app. Quartz gives you further information in the already known chat format and creates 2-3 additional chat bubbles with some details. Still in a compromised but information-rich way.
But there is also a third action. Every first chat bubble of a topic comes with a little arrow on the right side of the screen and a little URL right under the chat bubble. This arrow indicates an action. To what? You’ve guessed it. The original source of the article. With this detail, the user immediately gets the information where the news is coming from and also the possibility to dive deeper into the original source. In my opinion, a brilliant additional action that gives much power to the user and does not want to keep the user in the app.
Besides consuming news, there is also a pretty nice settings page. Here, the user can take a lot of action in customizing notifications settings or managing newsletter registrations. There is also something called the “trump snooze” which lets you disable U.S news for 24 hours. In our times today, this is ridiculous and unbelievable smart at the same time! The overall mood and experience of simplicity, humor, and efficiency continues here. Everywhere you can find emojis and simple switches to turn special notifications on and off.
The 3rd page of Quartz features a pretty new approach and topic. AR. As known from other apps, the user can place AR objects with the help of the smartphone camera into the virtual world and explore them. And boy, sometimes Quartz kills it here by embedding this experience into the new world. For example, I could experience the launch of a space rocket right in my living room with the help of the AR objects. Crazy, interesting, and beautiful!
All in all, Quartz is a very minimalistic, beautiful, efficient and very round concept that is realized perfectly! At first glance, a chat interface might not be the best choice for browsing the news but don’t mess with Quartz here. The little tweaks to the news approach make the chat interface a brilliant part of the user experience and fights the information flood of normal news apps. Well, ok it’s not a typical chat here because the user only makes binary decisions by pressing the buttons. But this is totally fine for this setting! Checking the news should be fast and intuitive and not typing hour long texts. It would bring useless complexity into the app. Another thing I find great is that you don’t have to make any customization. A lot of news apps rely on some kind of user profile to suit the content your interests. But not with Quartz. It lets you leave your bubble and also get some news you maybe wouldn’t read normally. That’s a great thing. I’ve already discovered some real diamonds here!
In the end, Quartz gets a big YAY! from my side and is definitely, one that you should take a look at if you want a refreshing take on the news thing!
5 times 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥