December 12, 2013 at 10:25 am

One Way To Understand ‘No UI’: No Search Results

no ui no search results

If you want to get a sense of what a "no UI" world feels like, try "feeling lucky" with a Google.com search.

When we tested the then-unreleased version of Google Glass software that has now been rolled out to all early adopters of this misunderstood* device, we were looking at its new music features, because that’s what we’re into.

Our first interaction with Google Glass’s music player was instructive. When we said “Listen To Javelin,” Google Glass searched Google Play All Access for music by Javelin, then started playing a song (“Beyondce“).

It didn’t list a bunch of search results, although Glass could do try, with its six-or-so-lines-of-text display.

Instead, it started playing the song first — and then, I had the ability to skip forward or back within a list of search results I couldn’t see.

This felt a lot like another Google product: the button on the search box that still provides the vast majority of Google’s revenue — the one that says “I’m Feeling Lucky.” When you’re dealing with a next-generation, internet of things-style, “no UI” or perhaps “less UI” computing device — the kind that is specifically not supposed to look or feel like a traditional computer, or even smartphone — this sort of thing will be way more common.

Rather than hunting through search results on a screen and pecking through them with a keyboard, mouse, or by tapping a screen, we’ll be counting on advanced search, predictive, and push technologies to get directly to whatever we’re after. (Google Now is another way Google is working on this.)

I’ll leave it to the scientists and technologists to figure out how to make “no UI” work, because we’re just at the beginning of this shift, which will ultimately liberate apps from smartphones and computers. But from this early experience with a “less UI” device, when it comes to music, it looks like we’ll be doing way less “searching,” without necessarily doing less finding.

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*Why “misunderstood”? Because the point of Glass and things like it is actually to help people stop staring at their smartphones all the time, not to get them to stare a new screen all the time. To stare at more screens containing content from Evolver.fm, subscribe.