P106: The Three Best Things So Far About Quartz for iPhone

Last week, Atlantic Media’s business-focused website and all-around intriguing modern news source Quartz released an iPhone app and boy howdy was it enthusiastically received by Media Twitter. Unlike basically every other stream- or list-based news app that I know of, Quartz for iPhone uses a messaging interface to convey the day’s news. It’s super precious and highly engaging and 100% in my wheelhouse. Honestly, I could probably write 4000 words about this (give it time) but let’s start out with just three moments that truly tickled my fancy.

I. That icon. Oh my god the icon is pure gold.

QZ Icon

The way the Q fits inside the chat bubble. The way the bubble is oriented so “you” are the one speaking Quartz, as opposed to them broadcasting from on high. The way the Q is rendered so it evokes the power icon. So good!

II. The onboarding experience. I can’t compete with Samuel Hulick’s epic teardown of the app’s onboarding experience but I will direct you to go, immediately, and luxuriate in the way that Quartz welcomes you to the first-run experience. Key quote: “It’s like a UI turducken of onboarding goodness.”

III. Emoji as user interface. I don’t need to link to some clickbait trend piece to backup the idea that emoji is A Thing, right? So what better place to employ these expressive doodles than in situations that reward high information density and personality? Like in the user prompts…

…or the settings screen…

…or in notifications…

…or even in the notification action button!

Even the Apple Watch complication uses emoji to indicate market performance. 👏👏👏

I’m in love with the idea that there are those who spend each day stretching the definition of what it means to be a news / media organization. It’s even better when they aren’t stretching those definitions to include shady/lame/problematic behavior. Quartz, a site that spent the first two years of its existence without a homepage, that once described itself in an internal memo as “an API”, that does basic old email newsletters better than anyone, stretches those definitions further–and to more interesting places–than all others. For this reason, the new, charming, quirky, innovative experience that is Quartz for iPhone almost seems… expected? Hats off to Quartz. I’m excited to see how this app evolves.

Periodically yours,

Bob Sherron