Google may be hiding URL address bars (again) in Chrome 85

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One thing that developers have noticed with Google over the years is that they seem to want to hide the full URL in Chrome’s address bars. They have tried to do this on and off for the past few years and it looks like the latest Chrome update will once again attempt to do so. Once the update rolls out, we may see the full URL’s hidden once again except for the domain name of course. Whether or not Google will back off again once the inevitable backlash starts remains to be seen.

Android Police shares that they are seeing new feature flags on both the Dev and Canary channels of version 85 of Chrome. What it does is modify how the address bar looks like. The “Omnibox UI Hide Steady-State URL Path, Query and Ref” flag will hide all the elements in the address bar except for the domain name. So if you’re visiting a website, you won’t see the whole URL but just for example, androidcommunity.com

There are two more flags that also modify the address bar. One flag will let you see the full URL if you hover over the address bar. The other flag will hide the address bar only when you start interacting with the page. There’s already an issue page on the Chromium Bug tracker but there’s no detail there yet so it may just be a place holder for now.

As to why Google really wants to hide the full address bar, they have previously said that seeing it makes it more difficult to determine if a site is legitimate or not. That’s not the official line of course but it has been said on record. But probably the real, unsaid reason is that it will benefit Google and its push for its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Hiding the address bar will also hide the pages that are hosted by Google.

In any case, this new feature may soon be out in Chrome 85. But again, they’ve rolled back address bar modifications previously, so this might not be final.

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