Quartz Brief, the News Chat App by Quartz Is Shutting Down


Quartz, the team behind the Quartz Brief is shutting down the news digest app that presented news stories in a chat format. Quartz launched the app first for iOS in February 2016 following their email newsletter, the Quartz Daily Brief. At that time, news apps crowded the industry and the Quartz Brief app was a good fit for Quartz as it expanded to more platforms – they already had an Apple News channel.

People really loved the app and craved for an Android version.

They later launched an Android app in December 2016.

The app came with a new format for presenting news digests. Quartz Brief used a chat format in an aggregated and curated manner for light reading.

Snippets of news articles are delivered via a text message with photos, GIFs and links for those who want to read more. You can reply with the chat blurbs provided. Quartz Brief breaks down what’s going on in the news plus give context. All this goodness is going away.

Long Live Quartz Brief

The Quartz Brief app is shutting down come July 1. Quartz is currently doing some house cleaning and currently giving its main app and website more priority.

The Pivot to Paid

Quartz was acquired by Uzabase, a Japanese media company in July last year. They later launched a new app in November with a NewPicks-look. NewsPicks is a subscription-based news app owned by Uzabase in partnership with Dow Jones -Wall Street Journal’s parent company. Quartz also launched a membership product on the same month which costs $150 a year or $14.99 monthly.

Worth noting is that Adam Passick, head of editorial operations of the app and the newsletters headed to New York Times last month but a spokersperson told Digiday that that had nothing to do with Quartz wrapping up the app.

Love from news nerds wasn’t enough

When the app launched, it got a lot of love from news nerds but didn’t pick up with the larger audience – it got downloaded 1.3 million times across both app stores and averaging 23,000 downloads per month. The app got applauded for being experimental at a time when news organisations were holding off trying out new features and platforms.

What’s Next?

The focus will now be on the new Quartz app that currently now has over 500,000 downloads across the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Quartz says that the app has sufficient active users as users of the Quartz Brief app.


If you still want to try it out, get it here.

What they’re saying

  • Some people loved it! Just not hundreds of thousands of people – A former employee.
  • As we prioritize some exciting changes ahead for the main Quartz app and Qz.com, the Quartz Brief app will shut down on July 1. The Quartz Brief has represented many of Quartz’s best qualities, with groundbreaking product design and new forms of writing, and the lessons and spirit of the idea will always be at the heart of our product offerings as we grow and evolve. – A Quartz spokesperson to Digiday.
  • Maybe “chatting with the news” just isn’t something most people really want to do? – Joshua Benton, Nieman Lab.

Hopefully, as Quartz Brief closes shop, Quartz and other news organisations picked lessons along the way on figuring out new and better ways to reach all their readers and not just their niche audiences and as Alvaro said, in the age of attention all innovation is valid to maintain the interest of the audience.