URLs or Uniform Resource Locators, more commonly known as web addresses, are pretty much the way we get around the Web. Just like physical addresses, however, you often don’t need to memorize those addresses once you’ve become extremely familiar with them or know how to get to them quickly. Web sites themselves have, or should have, easy to use navigation and for everything else, there’s Google. The latter is probably the driving force behind what could be the company’s controversial decision to once again hide full web addresses in a future version of the Chrome browser.
This isn’t the first time Google tried to hide URLs in Chrome and it won’t be the first time it will be met with backlash. Whether it will be more successful this time around will probably depend on how well it will sell the benefits of its new “feature”.
Google’s main arguments have always been convenience and security. Long web addresses are claimed to frighten users though we have yet to hear reports of people running away screaming from their computers or phones after seeing such a URL. Google also claims that the long string of characters could distract users from focusing only on the domain or main part of the URL, which they could have typed incorrectly, landing them in a crafty phishing site instead.
The flip side is that it could also make it harder for people to check where they’re really at and it could even create more confusion since it will deviate from standard practices. Android Police also notes it could be the company’s way of actually disguising its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which are hosted on Google’s servers and not exactly on the domains themselves.
The feature does come with options to reveal or hide the full URL depending on circumstances but there doesn’t seem to be any way to completely turn it off. A the moment, the feature is still on Google Chrome’s unstable Canary branch and it’s still unknown when or if it will sneak into beta releases.