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AMP is one of the most frustrating experiences I've had with Google. the fact that it's foisted on users, with no option to disable it, makes it borderline infuriating.

If you're stuck on an AMP page in your mobile browser, you can click on the browser's "Request desktop site" option to load the full page.

I am really curious if an ordinary user gets frustrated with AMP as much as an HN reader does.

PS: Not intending to be sarcastic. PS2: I work for google, but not on something amp related.

I've seen ordinary users get frustrated with it, but they don't understand why. They don't know what AMP is, and they don't realize they are on an AMP page. For example, the URL bar says they are on Google but they are reading a Slate article. The web is already confusing enough, and AMP makes it worse. Many ordinary users think they are reading content from Google, like that famous CNN interview where a lady said, "I read it in Facebook"

Which leads to the question, why is google doing this? They, you, could easily promote AMP pages while not masking the real URL! The answer is simple, profits over what's best for users.

Edit: I just did a search to find the CNN interview I mentioned, copied the URL to share here, and look it's a google URL. WHY? https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/trump-v...

I've seen people say about "fake news" articles that have google.com as the top domain (because AMP) as an indicator of some reliability. Google is unintentionally, but actively, harming their image by being associated with and promoting such content.

Fake news make little harm to Google, like an atomic bomb fired into the sun. Google supporting fake news, intentionally and actively, does marvelous things for that piece of misinformation and it gives credit to the publisher.

I hope this AMP experiment is soon over. As someone already said here, the web is confusing as it is. Google used to want to make things clearer, better. AMP is not. It's fixing symptoms instead of causes.

> For example, the URL bar says they are on Google but they are reading a Slate article. The web is already confusing enough, and AMP makes it worse.

Well, that explains why they wanted Chrome to hide URLs[1].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7693995

The Chrome experiment in question ended before AMP was even a thought, and AMP and Chrome are separate teams inside Google. I doubt they're even mildly related.

> separate teams

Different teams inside a business can have coordinated long-term goals.

Regardless, their master plan[1] clearly shows "Redesign HTTP", "Browser", and "Next generation web (Fish Pod)" as precursors that lead to "Private Internet", "Walled Garden", "need more cache", and "NEWSBANK".

[1] http://undergoogle.com/tools/GoogleMasterPlan.html

Ah I didn't know this.

I run a WordPress blog. From the documentations of Google and WordPress AMP plugins, I have always thought that the user will be directed to "originalurl/amp" on my domain when they click on the Google link on their phone. Now that I see it's a Google domain, this is really weird.

It's not an AMP thing per se, it's how Google handles AMP in search results.

No, its explicitly an AMP thing. Google serves the user a cached version of your page directly from its servers, hence the google.com/amp/ url

No, it's not. See Nuzzel's implementation of AMP, it opens the AMP version on the host.

True, but you can serve the AMP page directly from the host.

> Which leads to the question, why is google doing this? They, you, could easily promote AMP pages while not masking the real URL!

Perhaps to allow the content to be served from a CDN (over HTTPS), without requiring the site to CNAME over their domain to Google.

If webmasters are willing to CNAME over their domain to a caching proxy, then a less intrusive design is possible[0], such as the one recently announced by Cloudflare[1].

[0]: https://github.com/ampproject/amphtml/blob/master/spec/amp-c... [1]: https://blog.cloudflare.com/accelerated-mobile/

Most major sites use a CDN already. It's really to keep users within google.

The AMP CDN doesn't even really help with caching - when I implemented AMP at launch for some large sites, it was strongly implied that we couldn't expect any reduction in calls to our servers, and we didn't notice any reduction when AMP went live. From my perspective it appeared to be a walled garden counter-measure to FB Instant Articles and Apple News.

>Which leads to the question, why is google doing this?

Money. Amp vs adblockers

I'm one of those frustrated mobile users. I like to think I keep up on tech trends (being here for one example) but I hadn't heard of AMP before. I have experienced it, though, without knowing what the issue was until now. I like to share news with friends, and recently more frequently when I try to send the url it was google instead of the domain I expected. I had to go out of my way to send them the actual source, but it didn't happen everywhere. Now I know why.

Because that's where the site you are viewing is located...

Do you really want to go down the rabit hole of a browser displaying a different url than what you are viewing?

Not really, the page is located on slate.com, that's the canonical location, and google is adding a secondary location that is confusing and adds very little benefit. AMP provides a lot of benefits that do not depend on google hosting the page in addition to the canonical location.

i am curious about the numbers, though i do not know internally or externally if there are numbers showing this. As a power android user, i kind of like the rss-reader-esque look and feel of the amp links. It also opens blazing fast. With these in mind, minor inconveniences (like the address bar) are probably something i wouldn't mind.

> It also opens blazing fast. With these in mind, minor inconveniences (like the address bar) are probably something i wouldn't mind.

Of course you wouldn't mind, since, as you've said elsewhere that you work at Google.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

Eh - that is because you don't know me. I have been a very vocal critic of many google products and product shutdowns.

edit: typo

If only Google had a nice RSS Reader view which was blazing fast, and allowed you to view an uncluttered, non JS version of an article, while still correctly attributing it to the original provider, while making it easy to link to the original source.

Such really simple syndication technology could even have a catch TLA. I can't really think of one, but I'm sure there is something.

we had that, it was google reader. rest in peace - i used it a lot back in the day.

That said, i think people disable JS in general for this reason.

Here's the deal, nearly all of the benefits of AMP are unrelated to the masking of the URL, they are in the HTML validation aspects of AMP. Masking the URL and keeping users on Google when they think they are on Slate is a rather naked land-grab with a lot of downside for users and very little benefit to users.

Why doesn't Google drop the URL masking while keeping all the real benefits of AMP? The answer, profits over people. I say this as a long time fan of Google, but this AMP stuff is where the "don't be evil" tagline turned into a joke for me.

I'm very strongly against AMP but what you said isn't strictly true.

AMP itself allows for fast loading which is true, but to support opening pages in "zero loading time" you still need pre-loading since fast loading still means non-zero loading time. To get pre-loading working in HTML you need to 1) load the iframe of the page in the background, then 2) when the link is clicked, use history.pushState() in order to manipulate the URL to appear you have moved to another page. Unfortunately for (2) the Web History APIs need* both URLs to be on the same domain so Google has an excuse that they need to change the target URL to be under Google for this to work.

Also Google wants to present the scrolling UI that allows you to browse to other articles in the search results (potentially from other domains). This can't be done if you have completely switched to the original website.

See this link for more discussion https://github.com/ampproject/amphtml/issues/6210

Personally I find this misguided at best, an excuse at worst. A fully compliant minimalistic AMP website (or even just a simple site that doesn't use AMP but follow best practices) will load incredibly quickly even without pre-loading. It's disrupting a lot of security and UX best practices (by replacing the address bar with "google.com" domain) just to achieve a very minor improvement. Furthermore they control Chrome. It's not too hard for them to push forward a web preloading standard and start implementing in Chrome.

Edit: Also for the scrolling UI it seems like another way for Google to push more engagement to their site rather than the target URL. It kind of runs counter to the open web nature IMO because there are innovations that helps previewing links already (e.g. iPhone 6s/7 3D touch) and it's the kind of behavior better implemented in the browser itself.

I'm saying the same thing you are. Maybe I could have been more clear, but I was trying to avoid the nitty gritty tech details. Like you said, it's misguided at best and an excuse at worse. I'm asserting that it's an excuse, because it is done in a way to keep users on google for very little benefit to the user while causing very real problems for users.

Your opinion is here is valid, but how would you address the criticism that this isn't solving the real issue, and is obviously a power-grab?

The difference between Google and Apple:

Apple: These article webpages are annoying - let's add a client side button to make it readable.

Google: These article webpages are annoying[0] - let's force[1] everyone to grant us a royalty-free license to their whole website.

[0] The real problem might be that Google results are "getting bad" - a thing people bring up all the time but which can only be measured individually.

So people tap the first 3 results and don't get the info they were looking for. On top of that it's slow af so people are wasting time. Now Google serves up faster pages so they'll tap through 4 or 5 results.

So why not fix the real problem instead?

[1] Yeah it's optional but only to a point. First the spammiest blogs implement it and they get a free pass to partially skip the line. Then some bigger sites implement it and even things out. People here are rightfully afraid that within 12 months you can't even hit page 2 without AMP.

As I remarked elsewhere, I actually find AMP an excellent and speedy experience. I read articles on a mobile connection in India primarily and I now invariably click AMP news story options vs. others

Have you used other compensating mechanisms, like tap-to-show images?

Why should I take the extra effort to make publisher's poor websites usable when something like AMP does it out of the box? I don't really have any ideological objections to Googleplex which would warrant such extra effort.

not exactly the same thing, right? js environment also matters a lot.

I've never had an issue with it. Actually I try to click on AMP links when I'm searching for news because I know I'll get an experience that doesn't suck.

I browse AMP pages often and don't have any issues with it. It's great for getting news quickly in one page load. If I need to interact with it more, I'll simply go to the site hosting the AMP page

I love amp. Loads fast. It's so fast, it almost feels native.

One of the reasons Google (and FB with instant articles) came out with is the speed, and data consumption, which matters a lot more in some countries than in others.

Google and Facebook had far better ways to affect change (by using site speed/weight to factor heavily into rankings).

Prople in my family get quite confused when trying to share links.

This is my main problem with it. I don't mind too much that it loads an AMP page (well, I don't know, I go back and forth on it), it's the fact that if I want to share the page afterwards, I want the page to be shared to be the original site, not the AMP site, and finding a non-AMP version of the link is damn near impossible.

>near impossible

Check the link rel canonical tag. Obviously not ideal but nowhere near "impossible"

Yes. My boyfriend (who is not in tech) was so annoyed that he researched what it was that annoyed him and changed his default search engine to DuckDuckGo as a result.

Yes. My brother switched browsers on his Android phone (to Firefox) just to get away from AMP crap.

Why does it matter if a user is an HN reader or not?

it does, because we care about a number of things, including: 1. Technical implementation (and alternative ways of implementation). 2. Freedom (keeping things within google's walled-garden or not)

Your average user (who doesn't necessarily know anything about software) doesn't really care about 1, and probably doesn't care about 2. They care about speed of the page, data consumption of the page, and maybe the look-and-feel of the page (bloated vs sane).

When I say HN user, i mean technically informed and most often skeptic people.

The distinction matters.

99% of internet users are average users. All your concerns are fine but at the end of the day when you want to read the news or whatever, speed matters.

Then why doesn't Google rank speedy pages?

I'm not convinced that's still true. Obviously I can't see google-rankings internal stuff, but...

If I search for weather, lyrics, or other common sites, the top results are always slow, bloated, JS-filled nightmares. Yet the sites that are quick and small are never to be found.

Maybe they do and they need to weight speed higher. I don't know, but I know that I don't ever seem to get fast loading results.

This feels too much like creating a problem that you want to be able to step in and solve.

The use cases between both groups may be substantially different. Understanding this helps us not draw conclusions from 'how HN users use stuff' and incorrectly applying them to 'how all users use stuff'.

> If you're stuck on an AMP page in your mobile browser, you can click on the browser's "Request desktop site" option to load the full page.

So you have to load the AMP page and then a potentially bloated normal page. That's AMP doing the exact opposite of it's intended (or at least stated) purpose. Noscript, flashblock and adblock have done far more for page speeds than than AMP ever will.

Worst of all, many AMP pages won't load for me unless I disable Adblock. So now I have to degrade my browsing experience everywhere else to cater to AMP.

DING! The sound of google getting their ad money back.

AMP is the reason why I stopped using Google News on mobile. They butchered again one of their product. I'm glad that RSS feeds are still a thing.

Old versions still work like they should. I'm on v. 2.5.2 myself to avoid AMP.

I actually find AMP an excellent user experience reading articles on mobile internet connections in India. Thr pages load snappily and are very responsive. The ads are not distracting etc. Among news articles, if there's AMP option, I always prefer to click it vs. others.

I agree, and I live in the US. I couldn't care less about seeing the original URL and have never run into a broken page.

amphtml links on non-google domains, e.g., newspapers, etc., are great for text only browsers.

If I didn't know this was for mobile browsers I would think it was a gift to blind users who do not use GUIs.

amphtml links also provide an easy way around paywalls, most of the time.

I have no idea what is the true purpose of these amphtml links. It sounds like it's some advertising nonsense.

As a text-only browser user I see no ads and experience no page load delays, but I do see how overstuffed web pages have become.

In this regard, amphtml is a breath of fresh air.

I get the frustration, but mobile sites in general also have this problem. "Request desktop site" should be a more prominent feature, at least in safari which is what I'm familiar with. It's quite buried unfortunately and I think that more non-techies would benefit from knowing about it.

And websites should honor the "Request desktop version" at all time. It's frustrating when you enable the option and it still bring up the mobile version.

That is responsive layout! Something people love

A poorly made responsive layout*

If it was any good, it would be showing the desktop scaling/layout/whatever instead of the mobile when 'show desktop version' is on.

It's also not always about being on a responsive sites, a lot of places still do a m.website.com redirect when visiting the main site from a mobile device, but with no backwards redirect when visiting the mobile site (which is almost certainly non-responsive, otherwise there'd be essentially no need for the m.* site) as a desktop client - so you hit 'show desktop version', the m.* page refreshes and you just get the mobile site with funny scaling.

The website has no way of knowing you did that: this is actually Apple's fault for not changing the logical browser dimensions when you use this feature.

Well, no, it's not - it's just weirdly labeled.

Request mobile site is really only applicable to the small amount of websites that serve a m.domain.com.

Now, they could have an option to "request desktop SIZE" that would result in sites that are responsively built rendering in "desktop size" mode.

You can argue that any limitation is simply due to the feature being mislabeled, but in this case it seems pretty clear what people both expect this feature to do as currently named, and that happens to match what people also seem to want, and that would include changing the viewport to make certain you actually get the desktop site functionality.

Mobile web browsers should just never allow a site to disable zoom. That would fix the main thing I end up requesting desktop site for.

That's an option in android chrome.

It's right on the main menu in Chrome on Android. A checkbox item on the menu, so you know you can turn it on and off. So at least it isn't that hidden, same level as the other main features.

Firefox on Android does have this feature as well.

as does chrome on android

User here. I didn't realize I had an option to get the full site. As far as mobile web goes, I'm appreciative I don't have to slog through broken websites, CSS mishmash, flash ads, etc. Just the text, some basic structure, and fast loading times? I'm downright thankful to Google for this!

The bar has been set. Can you find a way to both resolve personal frustration and provide a better experience? Maybe a browser plugin?

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