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The Next-Generation Browser: No URL Bar (conceivablytech.com)
45 points by peternorton on May 21, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 50 comments



The more things change the more they stay the same.

Remember AOL's use of keywords to go to specific pages for companies before the days of the web? A future without a URL bar gives Google that much more power, which is just how they want it.

In that future you'll type all your urls in the google search box, and they get to show you ads for similar sites or topics, assuming you are lucky enough to be near the top.

I wonder how long before Google introduces a 'keyword' product where you can register a specific keyword to go straight to your domain.


> In that future you'll type all your urls in the google search box

The URL box and the search box have been merged in just about every current browser in some form or the other already. To most people, they're actually the same thing.

The scarier implications of this could be for phishing, which the article touches on. I'm expecting some kind of visual cue on tabs that are HTTPS eventually.

> I wonder how long before Google introduces a 'keyword' product where you can register a specific keyword to go straight to your domain.

They've had it forever: I'm Feeling Lucky.


> The URL box and the search box have been merged in just about every current browser in some form or the other already. To most people, they're actually the same thing.

The semantics are different though.

Type in 'books.com' in your URL bar.

Type in 'books.com' in the Google search box.

Not the same. The former is disappearing.


>I wonder how long before Google introduces a 'keyword' product where you can register a specific keyword to go straight to your domain.

Forever. They wouldn't restrict their market in that way. As it stands they sell the same words over and over which makes them more money and gives a better user experience.


> In that future you'll type all your urls in the google search box,...

Many users are already in that future. One of Google's most common searches is "facebook.com" or "www.facebook.com" (if memory serves, both are in the top 10, along with "facebook").

It makes me sad, but I don't think Google's complaining.


I'm usually for removing every bit of unnecessary chrome, but this strikes me as going too far.

URLs aren't optional if we want to have a world wide web. Otherwise it's just AOL redux. If URLs become this thing that only experienced users know about (or that we allow naive users to forget about) we're losing something important.


It bugs me. I get a few inquiries a day about pages on my web sites. There are a few million of them, so I can't be expected to know what they're talking about from a vague or even a detailed description.

About 1 in 5 offer me a URL right away, maybe 3 out of 5 will give me a URL once I ask for one, and about 1 in 5 doesn't know what the heck I'm talking about. It's depressing to think that it's going to get even harder for people, in the beginning of the linked data era where URLs are becoming the universal namespace.


how many of your friends telephone numbers do you actually know?


How many websites do you meet the owner and talk to them first then if you like them, ask for them to text you their website address so you can add it to your contacts?


Most of them, I'd say I have 30-40 memorized easily.


Surely you must know you are way outside the norm.


No kidding, most people use actual phone books or their mobile phone equivalent.

The key difference between phone numbers and URLs is that everyone recognises that phone numbers exist, or at least know they're meaningful.


We are not losing something important. Right now my address bar says

    http://news.ycombinator.com/reply?id=2570690&whence=item%3fid%3d2570434
90% of this information is irrelevant to me.

URLs aren't good against phishing also. Having to discern "facebook.com" from "faceboook.com" as a normal user is much too error-prone. Better mechanisms are needed here anyway.


and without the addressbar how will you navigate to news.ycombinator.com?

How will you know what site you're on?

How will you prevent me from doing some clever SEO to turn up in a google search for your bank before their own website so I can scam you?

How will you be able to return to that site you liked but don't have the address for since the URL was hidden?

How will you market and position your site if noone knows the URL?

How will you do offline marketing if users don't know how to get to the URL you provided?

I definitely think we're losing something important.


> and without the addressbar how will you navigate to news.ycombinator.com? I didn't say you should never see the address bar. You can use the bar to access the location you want, but once you are at your destination, you don't need it anymore

> How will you know what site you're on?

Hacker News has a bright orange bar at the top. Facebook is pretty blue. I think the address bar is the least identifying piece of a website.

> How will you be able to return to that site you liked but don't have the address for since the URL was hidden?

If I forgot to bookmark it, I'll do what I do now: use google

> How will you market and position your site if noone knows the URL? > How will you do offline marketing if users don't know how to get to the URL you provided?

I don't want to lose the URL, I want to lose the address bar after you have accessed the site and you don't need to see it anymore.


> and without the addressbar how will you navigate to news.ycombinator.com?

Using the same icon I used to get here today.

> How will you know what site you're on?

By the page title or by looking at the site, same as I do today

> How will you prevent me from doing some clever SEO to turn up in a google search for your bank before their own website so I can scam you?

The same as today, Chrome pops up a malicious site warning.

> How will you be able to return to that site you liked but don't have the address for since the URL was hidden?

Search. Same as today considering a fair number of users type URLs into Google as it is (facebook.com is one of the very top Google searches)

> How will you market and position your site if noone knows the URL?

Market by the URL, no one is suggesting you won't be able to use the URL to arrive at a site. It's just killing the always shown URL bar.


How did you get the icon there in the first place?


Icon?


I have a row of favicons in my Chrome bookmarks bar (no bookmark titles, so it's just a row of icons). HN is one of them.


Yes, we all just love to see the day when the web solely consists of a few dozen apps in everyone's browser. Buttons have no significant advantage over today's url bars. Pressing a single button, I get all the sites I recently looked at, my favorites, all sorted and easily accessible.


By your count it's at least 100% faster--a single click and I'm where I want to be. I also get by fine on my computer by having a dock of app icons. Similarly, it works well on my phone. It's not the end of the world.


Doesn't Ctrl-L show the URL bar? You can type one if you want to, but it doesn't show up all the time. Opening a new tab should do the same, and then hide the bar when the page is loaded.


URLs will continue to be an important part of the browsing experience. http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990321.html Jakob Nielsen wrote this in 1999 and I don't think much has changed, as recent updates to the article at the end show.

I love browsers that get out of the way, so displaying the address bar in a more intelligent way is something I welcome. I doubt it will disappear entirely.


Phishers will most certainly love this. The users used to have a chance to see they were not on a legitimate site. Now that information is hidden at browser level.


I don't want the URL bar going, but...

Users don't know if it's a legitimate site anyway. Plus Google offers phishing protection.


Having tried Chrome's "Hide the toolbar" feature in Chrome Canary, I can honestly say I prefer having the URL bar hidden. There will be some growing pains, for instance extension badges are not yet available under this setting, and the back/forward/Wrench buttons look a little out of place, but I do agree. No URL bars is going to be the standard pretty soon.


What I don't get about this trend (I must be missing something) about software hiding every toolbar (and sometimes useful ones) to get more "vertical space" like "vertical space" was a very valuable asset, while the computer industry is forcing everyone to screens with less vertical resolution...

Moreover, since most websites are fixed-width and that computers are moving to 16/9, I don't get why browsers (I know, not Opera) make it very hard to make vertical toolbars (like shortcuts and bookmarks, for example) on the sides...


Vertical space is valuable now because there is less room to work with. As hardware manufacturers push shorter screens, software will work harder to reclaim that height.


Well, if this is that much valuable, the hardware manufacturers wouldn't push shorter screens... And the Windows taskbar wouldn't take that much space! :D

I really must be missing something on what people want and do with their computers...


Manufacturers make them shorter because they are sold on the size of the diagonal. A 4:3 screen with a 24" diagonal is 14.4"x19.2" = 276.5 square inches. A 16:9 screen with the same diagonal is only 11.7"x20.8" = 243.4 square inches. Even if the retail price changes proportionately to the area, manufacturers come out ahead because each manufacturing defect only affects a 240 sq. in. product instead of a 280 sq. in. product. Smaller screens mean less waste, which means cheaper (more popular) product and higher margins.


Consider tablets and desktops versus notebooks and smartphones. Biggest impact is on notebooks whose vertical real estate is at a premium. Second are smartphone because of their form factor. As far as tablets and desktops: You can rotate your tablet and you can use a big monitor (or rotate that too if supported).


Chrome does have a side tabs option, and I'm sure maximizing horizontal space will become important going forward.


Where?


about:flags


Sorry but I can't find it on Chrome OS X (v. 11.0.696.68). Which channel are you using ?


Ah, you might need the dev channel, I'm on 13.0.767.1.


Switching right now. Thank you.


Not for linux though


I strongly recommend using Pentadactyl (formerly Vimperator). It removes a lot of UI kludge and simply makes browsing a better experience.

http://i.imgur.com/UwhLg.png http://dactyl.sourceforge.net/pentadactyl/


We have a lot to thank the Chrome devs for. I'm keen to see how this new experiment fares. So long as I can still cmd-L and type with pattern matching, I'm good.


the disappearing URL bar has been happening in the Android browser for as long as I can remember


Another potential alternative to removing the URL Bar could be to camouflage it. Instead of keeping it white, allow it to blend in with the rest of the browser's color scheme and UI when not active.


Old browsers like lynx, w3m, ... didn't have url bar either. :-)


Phishers won't like this because there will exist things like Web Of Trust that help identify bad sites. I'm assuming Google will provide the same functionality.


How would I easily modify GET requests without a URL bar?


You'll have to pry my URL bar out of my cold dead hands.


Google simply wants to make true that proposition that the web browser needs to be invisible to the user, so people consider more and more web apps over native apps. Remember, a good rule for UI design is that the UI should be invisible to the user.


If somebody makes it easy to show my favorites without using a separate toolbar for it, I think that will be far more cleaner UI than show/hiding address bar.


Hide navigation bar -> Ctrl+L to enter a URL. Handy on a netbook, arguably annoying on a desktop.


I'm already using ctrl-L to focus the navigation bar every time. It's very convenient.




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