Google is once again trying to suppress the display of https and www in the URL bar of the upcoming versions of its browser Chrome, despite criticism.
The previous attempt at altering the scheme and subdomain was last year, but Google made a step back after several users expressed concerns. The idea back then was to eliminate the “m.” and “www.” subdomains, allegedly to improve usability.
Now the giant seems to be focussing on “www.”
Emily Schechter, a product manager for security in Chrome, said yesterday that: “the Chrome team values the simplicity, usability, and security of UI surfaces. To make URLs easier to read and understand, and to remove distractions from the registrable domain, we will hide URL components that are irrelevant to most Chrome users. We plan to hide “https” scheme and special-case subdomain “www” in Chrome Omnibox on desktop and Android in M76.”
In other words, Google is again claiming that the change will make URLs easier to read and free of “distractions”, and that “https” is irrelevant to most users.
However, obscuring the URL could be handy when, for example, an ad company is throwing Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) versions of websites at users.
Tarquin Wilton-Jones of Chromium-based Vivaldi told The Register that the move was “unlikely to impact security”, but warned that it could potentially confuse the user as it would be difficult to distinguish a “www.” from a “non-www.” domain with the same name but different content (e.g. www.example.com from example.com).
On the other hand, he praised Google’s decision to remove https: “Long ago, we chose to hide ‘https://’ for this reason, and simply show a security indicator (secure or not).”
He also added that he is pleased to see that Chrome has recognized the benefits of this approach.
Google will implement two features to circumvents the scheme and subdomain hiding protocols of its Omnibox, the URL/search bar tool where users enter their searches. There will be an extension for power users capable of shutting off the protocol, and the possibility, by double-clicking on the Omnibox, to restore the full URL visualization.