Google analyses new Chrome feature that shows only domain name hiding browers’ URL

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on June 16, 2020 Published on June 16, 2020

Google is testing new changes in the Chrome Dev/Canary 85 that will hide parts of a website’s full address URL in the address bar, showing only the domain name.

The update could be rolled out in the next version of Chrome (version 85), according to Android Police.

An experimental feature is referred to as a “flag” in Chrome developer terms, as per the report

The main flag discovered by Android Police is called “Omnibox UI Hide Steady-State URL Path, Query and Ref.” This experimental feature will hide parts of a URL on the Chrome browser except for the domain name.

The other flags discovered by the online website show new ways in which the address bar can function in future versions of Chrome.

The feature hiding parts of the URL has not been well received so far as per reports. However, Chrome will provide the feature on an opt-out basis where users can see the entire URL at all times by clicking on the the “Always show full URL” setting which they can see with a right-click on the address bar. Users will also be able to see the entire URL by hovering over the URL in the address bar as per the report.

"We think this is an important problem area to explore because phishing and other forms of social engineering are still rampant on the web," a Chromium developer on the bug tracker for the change said as quoted by Android Police.

"Research shows that browsers' current URL display patterns aren't effective defences. We're implementing this simplified domain display experiment so that we can conduct qualitative and quantitative research to understand if it helps users identify malicious websites more accurately," they added.

This is based on a paper published in 2019 evaluating user perception of identities of websites.

"No [iterations of URL formats and HTTPS notices] significantly impacted users’ understanding of the security or identity of login pages," the study found.

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Published on June 16, 2020
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