Why is the Quartz mobile app so good?

It has now been a month that I have been using Quartz on my One Plus 3. I remember, only a few minutes into using the app, I was annoyed about the fact that I couldn't search for news or simply browse between the headlines like I could in other apps. I could also not go back to a previous nor bookmark articles. 
And I was thinking what made it such a popular app among both android and ios users? I saw some phenomenal reviews and hundreds of thousands of downloads on the Playstore and the Appstore. Quartz has even won the editor’s choice and featured in AppStore best of 2016. So who are these users the app is targeting and how has it done the job so well?

I went with breaking down this confusion, and a heuristic analysis was the quickest approach for articulate features of an idea user for the Quartz app

1) Visibility of system status —

  • The application does a good job at showing visual cues like the “user-is-typing-dots”, the most basic and awesome interaction, necessary in a conversational UI.
  • The interface also gives me a “no internet connection “ notification under the selection button, which I felt was an appropriate place to get it.
Something awesome: I tried to run the app without the internet, and to an extent, it does work! And I was surprised! I will elaborate more about this in the section about error prevention :)
Quartz does a good job providing the system’s status

2) Match between system and the real world —

And Quartz does this in an amazing manner!

  • Placing emojis as quick reply buttons and
  • Adding funny GIFs to make the conversation about news more interesting :D

These elements are awesome and used pretty commonly used in a conversation. This is their attempt at making the conversations more realistic and they are doing good so far!

Quartz does a good job with “what you see is what you get” and is not so hard to learn to use.

3) User control and freedom —

And when I evaluated Quartz for user control and freedom

  • No option of searching for news as per your interest, you read whatever the app throws at you else ask for the next one
  • No option to go back if you skip a news and then you want to know more about it anyway (however the links on the arrow next to the message do stay even if you don’t ask for details so the opportunity to get more info is not completely lost)
  • Cannot save or bookmark the news

Now when I noted down these points, I realized Quartz is bad when I evaluate its heuristics considering it a news app. 
But if thought about as chat , these points are invalid and it has done a good job falling in line of a chat service that gives you some news when you are talking to it.
This gives us a major cue to the ideal user: The user who is looking for news in their chat!

What a brilliant twist!

Quartz does a sufficiently good job to install user control and freedom in a chatbot domain

But another problem I faced (as a slow reader): The chat kept sliding to the next page too quickly and I couldn’t catch up. I had to drag the screen up again and again.

4) Consistency and standards —

The standards of naming in Quartz were consistent in every situation.

  • A simple “next”, and “anything else” to show you want to switch to the next news
  • Curating emoji buttons according to the topic of news added to the effect of chatting with your buddy

They introduced almost negligible amount of features other than those that are already present in chats and this has resulted in easy use for this app. You don’t need any training to start using it.

The chat feature of Quartz successfully encompasses consistency and standards of a traditional chat you have with a friend on any other platform

5) Error prevention —

I must say, the designers of Quartz took this feature quite seriously. The application has no need for user to type anything. Quick reply buttons and tapping on chat messages with the arrows next to them to open the links are the only interaction.

NOW SOMETHING AWESOME ! I switched off my wifi and data and opened the application to see what it shows. I was surprised to see I was still getting messages from the bot. I tried this another three times before I could truly believe that there wasn’t any network connection. Although the GIFs failed to load but the news text didn’t stop to appear for at least as long as I tried!

Well done Quartz, well done :)

Quartz does a 10/10 on error prevention. The experience is seamless even without an internet connection

6) Recognition rather than recall —

Simple instructions.

Quartz relies on simple instructions. It is so basic that the first few messages in the chat explain you the interaction. Although the application lacks the affordances to show user can swipe right to open the customization options , I guess this was something they wanted to compromise on to keep the interactions clean and their interface minimal

7) Flexibility and efficiency of use —

I mentioned the problem about not being able to bookmark news in earlier points, but I did find a way around it so here’s a pro(ish) tip:

Since the app opens links in chrome app when I tap on the message box with the arrow symbol, I can bookmark it there itself. Although a long procedure, it still gets the job done.

Other than that, its only the notification settings that can be tweaked by experienced user better according to their requirements than novice

Quartz doesn’t have many features to offer flexibility and increase the efficiency of use for their users

8) Aesthetic and minimalist design —

Simple chat, no title bar, no text box, and every message that delivers news has a source cited under it. I guess there is no better way to be minimal for a platform that is meant to provide news in a minimal format to its users.

9) Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors —

Apart from the fact that error hardly can ever happen, since all of the lose ends of this app are tied together, I did have an issue with the way they told me that I didn’t have an internet connection. The notification seems to disappear within seconds. So while it is too polite, I almost missed it the first time I tried it because I was distracted. Apart from that, once again, a seamless experience

10) Help and documentation —

The app does mention their terms and conditions and a column for feedback under the customization screen, however they do not have a help or FAQ section, and I don’t blame them. Their app does not need a help and an FAQ section! Bonus points for that.


  1. Quartz is for those users (probably millennials) who are waiting in the line and are just browsing for news or just something basic and not into details type of news
  2. The app has a personality of that “funny but well informed” friend of yours. And wrap that in the form of chat, and you have a friend who you wont get rid of and doesn’t mind if you only remember them when you are bored!
  3. It’s more of a “did you know that…” approach to the news than “here’s everything, pick your interest” and it has worked brilliantly!

With these, I can conclude that I may have been disappointed by this app because I like customization and digging deep (no wonder I am an android user :P) the app has done a great job meeting needs of millions who aren’t like me and do not have that much free time in their hands to get to the bottom of every news. Good job Quartz!