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Why Does Google Want to Get Rid of the Address Bar?

June 23, 2011 by Kevin




When Google releases the newest version of their web browser, Google Chrome 13, they will for the first time give users the option to hide the address bar when it's not in use. This has many implications which may not be immediately obvious. 

For several years now Google has been leading the way for web browsers with its Google Chrome. Chrome competes with many other browsers including Firefox and Internet Explorer. When a major browser releases a new and innovative feature it's not long before the other browsers are trying to replicate and improve upon the new feature. This would be a benefit for Google if other browsers adopted the disappearing address bar feature. Google is already the leading internet search provider. With a missing address bar it's likely that even more users will turn to google.com's search field to get to the webpage they want. This is helpful to Google since they keep a record of everything that is typed in to the search bar on their site. Having more users on google.com will help them get a bigger and better understanding of people's habits on the web. Another benefit of increased traffic is more views and clicks to the ads on their site which increases Google's revenue. These are all benefits to Google but the new hide-able address bar has benefits for the user as well.

The most readily apparent change to the user's experience with a disappearing address bar is the extra screen space. With only the tabs and navigation buttons at the top of the window the user has almost their entire space to view actual website content. This is especially important for users with small screens on phones or other mobile devices. Google capturing more browsing information is actually a benefit for the user as well. Google uses the data they gather to improve their services and give users a more intuitive and user-friendly experience on the web.

As with any update, the compact navigation feature raises some security concerns. The lack of a persistent address bar makes it harder to tell whether you're actually on goggle.com instead of google.com. This makes it easier for scammers and phishing websites to trick users in to thinking they're on a site that they're not and stealing their information. Chrome helps prevent this somewhat by showing the address bar with the new URL for a few seconds whenever you click on a link. People who never paid attention to their address bar in the past will now have an easier time ignoring it which isn't good since users should understand such basic components of their browsers.

I've been using the compact navigation feature for a little while now with Google Chrome Canary and while there's still some bugs to work out I've been enjoying the extra screen space of a self-hiding address bar. What are your thoughts on this feature? Is Google going too far? Is there a different solution? Leave a comment below!

Posted in Developments, Help Me Understand

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