Unapologetic Interfaces

A while back, I wrote a short piece about something I called 'apologetic interfaces', suggesting a new class of interfaces that pay attention to what their users are up to, what they're there to achieve, and seek ways of minimizing the hassle of dealing with unnecessary application maintenance, inclusive of updates, new feature tutorials, notifications, invitations to rate the app, etc.—you know all that stuff that drives us mad when all we're trying to do is to get stuff done.

I firmly believe that apologetic interfaces are the future. We need interfaces that realize that most of them are just that, interfaces. They are conceptually, factually, and by definition, in between us and our work. We need interfaces that realize that when I open up Microsoft Word I do that because I have a sudden need to write something down. Unless there's an earthquake, tsunami, major conflict, or a sudden outbreak of ebola in my area—I don't want to be be bothered with whatever-it-is. Just open the &$%&@# document so I can start to type. Please.

The state of the art, unfortunately, is still quite the opposite—the unapologetic interfaces rule, across platforms and devices. Notifications, update requests, badge icons, embedded tutorials, rating invitations, 'did you know?', and so on indefinitely, are still doing all they can do divert their users' attention from whatever they were trying to get done and paying absolutely no attention what so ever to what the user is doing at the time.

Here's a very telling example. Yes, it's the Wild West. Yes, it needs to change.