The New App That Sparks Joy

In her New York Times best-selling book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” household organization guru Marie Kondo helps people determine what to keep and what to discard in their life by simply asking “Does this spark joy”? If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.

Since we spend a third of our waking hours on our phones it’s good hygiene to thumb through your apps occasionally to figure out which pass Kondo’s “joy” test. This is a great exercise to declutter your phone and can even be a useful mindset for developers to adopt for product design.

After recently looking at the 90+ apps on my phone one app stood out as my favorite joy-inducer: Quartz’s news app.

The business news publisher’s app, launched two weeks ago, engages users in a messaging user interface that starts off with a friendly greeting like “Good Morning”, and shares news that you can respond to with a pre-selected emoji or message like a “Anything else” or “Next”.

Quartz’s news app is something entirely different, with original writing, new features, and a fresh interface.

During the conversation you’ll engage in a back and forth chat peppered with photos, GIFs and a fun reader-controlled experience that is reminiscent of the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Quartz spent almost a year working on this and proudly touts that the messages are “actually written by humans!”.

While most news apps serve the function to give you content that is timely, relevant, and interesting, Quartz adds the dimension of fun and intimacy that hasn’t existed before. Designed with millennials in mind, Quartz’s new app illustrates how content creators need to rethink engagement models in a battle for your attention.

As more publishers catch on to idea that messaging is the next frontier for news, we should expect to see more interesting forms of news delivery available through publisher-designed apps like Quartz’s and messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Line and WeChat.

Things will get even more interesting when chat-like news delivery intersects with smart voice-based assistants like Amazon Echo’s Alexa which now delivers news briefings from sources like CNN, Bloomberg, and The Economist.

As news delivery continues to evolve, let’s hope that they all bring a little more joy to our lives in the process.

You can download the Quartz app on your iPhone here. An Android app is in development.

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