Google Chrome experiment displays only the domain in the urlbar

Simplification seems to be an ongoing trend, not only when it comes to web browsers but I notice it the most here. With Mozilla releasing Firefox Australis and seemingly not finished yet with the removal of features, and Google launching a minimalistic browser from the very start, it seems that the days of users deciding how they want to use a browser will come to an end eventually.

I may be painting a too dark picture here but find the direction that these companies are heading towards quite frightening.

One recent experiment of the Chrome browser does away with urls in the address bar. The browser only displays the domain of the website you are on but not its full address unless you specifically click or interact with the address bar first.

If you visit reddit.com/r/chrome for example, only reddit.com is displayed in the address bar. To make matter worse, it is not displayed in the area that you can edit, but in the location reserved for sites using secure connections.

chrome address bar short

https

Subdomains are displayed here as well so that you know at least on which part of a domain you are on currently.

The address is revealed either when you click in the address bar or when you interact with it. While you can still copy addresses this way or check that you are on the right one.

Some Chrome users report that the feature is enabled on their system without them doing anything, likely as part of an experiment to find out how users react to the change.

If you are affected by this, do the following to turn it off completely:

  1. Load chrome://flags/#origin-chip-in-omnibox in the browser's address bar
  2. The preference "Enable origin chip in Omnibox is displayed to you right away on the page that is loaded. It supports all operating systems that Chrome is available for including Windows, Mac and Linux.
  3. To disable the feature, click on the menu and selected disabled from the list of options.
  4. Restart the web browser afterwards to apply the change.

If that was done correctly, the full url should be displayed again in the address bar.

chrome-origin-chip

If you want to give it a try, select one of the two enabled options. One displays the full url on click, the other on input only.

Why is this a problem?

I consider the url essential, and if it is not displayed at all times, a serious issue. You cannot verify that you are on the right address for instance. While you know that you are on the right domain, you do not really where you are until you click or input text.

I do think it is also not ideal as the space the domain names are displayed in now have been reserved previously to distinguish secure sites visually from regular sites.

What's your take on this?

Summary
Article Name
Google Chrome's origin chip experiment explained
Author
Description
Origin Chip is an experiment for Google Chrome that displays only the domain name but not the path in the browser's address bar.
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Responses to Google Chrome experiment displays only the domain in the urlbar

  1. Matthew May 1, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    I hated it. Luckily it was shortlived, I got an update last night that seems to have removed it, or disabled it for me/

    The URL bar can certainly use more domain highlighting and a more prominent security verification. This orgin chip was too heavy a step.

  2. Oxa May 1, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

    I don't find it frightening. I find it moronic. What is the point of REMOVING useful features?

  3. ed May 1, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    My take on this? The march toward simplicity is in lockstep with the inexorable march toward ISP domination of all access on the "channelnet." Who needs URLs for a handful of discrete channels we will buy monthly. "Smart TVs" without browsers - a good start, eh!

  4. GK May 1, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    The trend UX designers are following in the whole industry of excessive minimalism is retarded. Features in software are constantly being compromised. It's very frustrating for power users.

  5. Peter (NL) May 1, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

    I fully agree with you, Martin. I'd like to see the full URL in the address bar at once (no extra click required, or so).
    I think Google should matter about more important things for the Chrome browser, like memory management (consumption), safety and stability.

  6. steve May 1, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

    For web development and general use of the browser this was a bad idea, as soon as i noticed it i found the flag to disable it. good to hear they have now removed it.

  7. Keith May 1, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

    I just checked this on a couple of my systems. On Windows running Iron 34, the options to make changes are available. On Linux, Chromium 34 says "Sorry, this experiment is not available on your platform."

  8. Kevin May 2, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    My Chrome Canary installation had this enabled by default for the last couple of weeks, but my Chrome Stable installation did not. Canary seems to have switched back to normal now.

    When I first saw this idiotic idea, I thought, "They can't be serious, can they?!?"

    They better not make this a standard "feature".

  9. fabiann May 2, 2014 at 4:31 am #

    As an advanced user, I like this feature. But I think this is a dangerous option to provide to regular users.

  10. CBDunkerson May 2, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    If they make it 'opt out' for techies I think it is a good change. The apparent intent is to make it clearer that the 'address bar' is also a search box. If they can finally get that through to the masses then maybe they'll ditch the ridiculous 'search box' on the new tab page. The Chrome omnibox is very versatile, but most users still don't know that it can accept any form of input other than a URL. This is just Google's latest desperate attempt to change that.

  11. Ross Presser May 3, 2014 at 2:34 am #

    Bad idea; very bad idea.

  12. Schmurtz May 3, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

    Great for incult persons... Full is usefull, to much simplification is useless !

  13. mtbink.com May 6, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    Try to read Nicholas C. Zakas article http://www.nczonline.net/blog/2014/05/06/urls-are-already-dead/

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