Book notes
The Best Interface Is No Interface

The Best Interface Is No Interface by Golden Krishna

Read in October 2020

"Our love for the digital interface is out of control, and our obsession is ruining the future of innovation"

I am fond of the doze and accuracy of sarcasm in Krishna's tone, and I'm glad that he joined Google to work on the pain-points he addressed in this book.

It's not a surprise many companies are already implementing some of the things he proposed, and hopefully more to come.

Let's Make an App!

During the past decade, no matter what the topic is, we reached to a situation to wisely say:

There is an app for that.

However, shipping an app for a problem is might not be the most intuitive way to solve it.

The book has an eye-opening case-study to concretize that thought: The BMW app and its 13 step process to open the door of a car!

And the most prominent outcome of this book, questioning if we desperately need an interface to solve any problem, shines with a predictably ingenious counter-argument:

Why can't we just use proximity sensors to automatically open the door when the driver approaches?

Slap an interface on it!

Question: How to make a better ______?

Answer: Slap an interface on it!

Following the "there is an app for that" mentality, we see this tactic's application in many things:

  • Massive car consoles with a touch-screen
  • Fridges with screens so you can tweet from them
  • Trash cans in the streets of London, telling you about the weather
  • Restaurants with touch-screen ordering systems
  • Vending machines that show a huge touch screen instead of what's behind

Addiction UX

more screens -> more ads -> more revenue

The best minds of our generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.

The general goal is to do whatever possible to keep more and more of us logged in wired, dragging us back for more interface time because the more eyeballs, the more money they can sell their ads for; and the happier their shareholders.


The best distracting interface is no distracting interface.โ„ข๏ธ

Screen Insomnia

Several studies show that the amount of blue-light exposure could have side-effects that may even lead up to cancer. In the short-term, it affects melatonin and causes sleep disorders.

The backlight from watching 18 episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix in full brightness in bed is the reason why you can't sleep. ๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ‘

Principle 1: Embrace Typical Processes Instead of Screens

Instead of forcing people to run/open/tap their screens, design smart systems that are intuitive and work without any learning curve. Preferably auto-magical.

60 percent of people who stole something during the self-checkout in the UK did that because the scanner didn't work. They just gave up trying.

Lazy Rectangles

Don't kickstart the solution by just drawing wireframes. Focus on the overall experience.

An app to open the trunk of my car

๐Ÿ“ฑ: Click this button to open the trunk
๐Ÿ™โ€โ™‚๏ธ: but, my hands are full?
๐Ÿš—: OK! Kick my bumper, and it opens automatically.
๐Ÿ™†โ€โ™‚๏ธ: Shut up and take my money!

An app to cool down the interior of a car

๐Ÿ“ฑ: Click this button to start cooling down your car parked in the middle of a desert.
๐Ÿ™โ€โ™‚๏ธ: but, I AM AT THE MOVIES WITH MY GF?
๐Ÿš—: OK! I do it automatically by slightly opening the roof when it's unbearably hot inside.
๐Ÿ™†โ€โ™‚๏ธ: THX! Here's a bag of money ๐Ÿ’ฐ

Principle 2: Leverage Computers Instead of Serving Them

IBM Blue beat Kasparov in 97' by making a glitchy random choice. IBM stock has raised 3.6% the next day. So, supercomputers were cool back then. They should be even better now, no?

Today, we have much more powerful machines in front of us, but what do they say?

Your password must be at least 18,770 characters long, and cannot repeat any of your previous 30,689 passwords.

Instead of computers serving us, we try our best to satisfy the weird constraints that are non-intuitive. Okay, I want my account to be secure and safe, but can't you help me a little bit?

Machines would understand each other better than any input a human being could produce. Let them communicate and resolve our issues auto-magically via signals and sensors:

  • OAuth over complicated login flows with cognitive overload.
  • Easy-to-understand washing machine modes instead of airplane cockpits.

Principle 3: Adapt to Individuals

We should strive for smart systems that learn from your behaviors and adapt themselves to provide the most effortless experienceโ€”dynamically adjusted experiences over constraints.



The information access should be limited, ephemeral, preferably within a time interval. Should be forgotten after utilization.

Be transparent on what you find from there โฌ†๏ธ and present options โฌ‡๏ธ to forget or turn it off.


It's not easy to make the whole system in a perfect automation. It's obvious there are notorious examples like Clippy, but look what Siri can achieve now. The progress is bitterly real but should not scare you.


Our love for the digital interface is out of control, and our obsession with is ruining the future of innovation.