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Quartz vs Quartz Conversation App: Quick Click

Recently there has been increasing press coverage about chatbots as the future of interfaces (for example: FastCompany on chatbots). Although chatbots are still in their infancy as a medium, many already provide useful services. For example, both Pizza Hut and Whole Foods have created social media bots that allow users to order food using a chat interface (Source).

The website Quartz created an app, only for iOS, that allows users to access some of the website’s articles through a chat interface. The app is not a full chatbot, but has a similar chat bubble based interface.

For this Quick Click, I was interested in seeing whether Quartz’s conversational app could provide an equivalent or better experience than its website.

Tasks:
– Discover recent headlines
– Search for information about the upcoming election
– Find business news

Task 1:
Path Followed (Website):
Finding recent news was a breeze on qz.com. I simply navigated to the website’s url and clicked on the ‘Latest’ menu option. This presented me with the most recent news stories sorted by time.

Path Followed (App):
After completing a few brief set up steps, the app began displaying recent news stories in chat bubbles one at a time. By selecting a predetermined chat response I had the ability to learn more about a story, by choosing the option on the left, or to get the next headline, by choosing the option on the right.

Chat Options
Chat Options

The story’s details would be provided in subsequent chat bubbles.

Observations:
– The website’s design is optimized for quick browsing and made scanning through recent headlines an enjoyable task
– The app is good for quickly reading about one or two headlines, but continuously pressing ‘next’ to see another headline gets tiresome
– After having a few article conversations, I was ‘all caught up’ and no longer able to see more headlines until ‘a later time’

Task 2:
Path Followed (Website):
Quartz has built in search functionality accessible through the website’s menu bar and I tried using it to find articles by typing ‘election 2016’. The search did not return any results, but ‘election’ generated many articles.

No Results
No Results

Path Followed (App):
Currently the app does not support the ability to search for articles by topic.

Observations:
– It would have been nice to have a message indicating that my search returned no results rather than displaying an empty screen
Having search functionality in the app would be a useful feature

Task 3:
Path Followed (Website):
I entered ‘business’ in the search field and was able to scan through a large list of articles.

Path Followed (App):
Since there is no search functionality I was not able to look specifically for business related news, but I was able to choose to receive more information about business headlines when they were presented through chat bubbles.

Observations:
– Many of the articles in the search results were not directly related to business topics

Conclusions:
Although Quartz’s conversational news app is limited in functionality, it suffices as an unique way to get caught up on recent headlines. The app is far from a full chat bot, but offers a glimpse of how conversation based interfaces can work. I felt in control and engaged during my interactions with the app, however; I was left yearning for more features and the ability to freely scan headlines. On the other hand, Quartz’s website supported all the tasks and provided an uncluttered interface. Chatbots and conversational interfaces are still an emerging convention, but if Quartz’s app is an indicator of future possibilities I am excited to see what will come next.
Website: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
App: 🙂 🙂

Follow this link to download the Quartz app: link

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