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Google Halts Work on Omnibar URL Hiding in Chrome

URLs won't be cropped in the omnibar just yet, but feature remains available behind flag

Google has put on hold an experimental browser feature that hid the full URL of a website behind a button in the Chrome omnibar.

The “Origin Chip” aims to make web browsing less garish by masking the lengthy sprawl of characters most website addresses end up as behind a ‘chip’ only showing the hostname (e.g., ‘omgubuntu.co.uk‘). Clicking on the chip would reveal the full URL (e.g., ‘omgubuntu.co.uk/articletitle‘).

The feature remains available to try behind a flag in most builds of Chrome, as in the gif below.

Origin Chip at Work

Similar to Safari

Safari on iOS 7 is the most famous example of website address cropping, where a website’s domain name is shown instead of the full web address. While there is a case to be made for hiding full URLs on mobile, where space is at a premium, introducing the feature on the desktop would likely prove controversial.

Word that Chrome has nixed plans to enable the chip by default comes via developer Peter Kasting, who recently nudged the feature to low priority status on the Chromium Issue Tracker, explaining that “the origin chip work is backburnered”.

It’s not clear why Google is nixing the work but one suggestion is that enabling users to see the full URL of a website at all times helps protect against phishing (attempts at which usually mimic the hostname of a popular website).

While Google is having a rethink other developers are pressing on. Apple’s OS X Yosemite brings hidden URLs to desktop Safari, while the latest releases of Linux web browser ‘GNOME Web’ has similar hiding behaviour enabled by default.

  • Thomas Berends

    I don’t think it’s about phishing. Phishing would become harder, because SSL websites would show the green part only, instead of only at the beginning of the full bar.

    • Geekmaster

      Yeah, this is not Phishing

  • t4exanadu

    I have that flag enabled because I like the feature. The only inconvenient thing about it is that you now have to click the domain to show the url in order to copy and paste (on the plus side, merely clicking it selects all of it). I still use it because I like the empty omnibox, as I use to search all the time.

    • ‘-‘

      A separate search box would be more convenient, then.

  • mediumsizedrob

    a quick line about how to enable the function would be handy.

  • Peddler

    But we know that full URLs don’t in fact defend against anything. Witness the vast expansion of phishing in the last five years.

    Arguably having a single clear domain name with some kind of verification would be superior to today’s mess.

    • Seriously now?

      I want to argue that making the domain name easier to see will be a better defence.

      I mean, I will sooner find [https://google.com/v=?super-duper-malware-your-PC-will-explode-in-3-seconds-give-me-all-your-moneyz-right] trustworthy, than [sd4878f0.co.hk/10-ways-to-make-your-cat-sophisticated].

      All that matters is the domain name.

  • guest

    Yandex browser (chromium) works like this.

  • mirek2

    GNOME Web, at least the last stable version (3.12), shows the full URL. It’s just in small, light type below the page title.