Once upon a time, there was a small movement among web browser extensions to introduce side panels for things like tab navigation and other useful pieces of UI. Browser makers themselves seem to have frowned on such an interface, but it seems that the tables have turned recently. Google is apparently starting to reclaim the sides of Chrome for additional information, like Reading lists and Google Lens searches. Now it is working on another panel that’s designed to keep you living in Google land, even when you’ve turned away to another web page.
Truth be told, navigating around the browser when searching for something can at times be tedious. Unless you open a search result in another tab, you’ll have to click the Back button to get back to the other search results. Having to do this repeatedly for short searches is almost a recipe for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Google is apparently developing a feature in its Chrome Web browser that will keep those search results always within reach. Called “Side Search” in the Canary version of Chrome, this enables a panel on the left side to appear that effectively embeds a Google Search page with the previous search results. All you need to do is click that new Google icon in the address bar to reveal those results, no matter which web page you turn to.
Microsoft Edge users might be familiar with a similar feature introduced last year, except Edge’s sidebar appears on the right side of the window. With Google using a side panel for Reading List and Google Lens searches, it seems that sidebars are coming back into fashion in the browser world.
This potential new feature, however, could raise some red flags as far as Google’s alleged anticompetitive behavior is concerned. It ties Google Search and Chrome together more intricately, and there might be some concerns that it will be to the disadvantage of other search engines and Web browsers.