Google appears to be backing away from its somewhat controversial experimental feature for the Chrome browser that hid full Web addresses from users. Dubbed the Origin Chip, the new feature condenses the Web address of the page you're viewing into a small tile on the far left of Chrome's address bar.
Instead of seeing the long string of words, letters, and numbers for each Web page, all the Origin Chip would show was the base URL of the site. So instead of seeing a Web address like "pcworld.com/article/2150857/googles-canary-browser-flirts-with-killing-urls.html" you'd see just "pcworld.com."
[ Safeguard your browsers; InfoWorld's experts tell you how in the "Web Browser Security Deep Dive" PDF guide. | Cut to the key news for technology development and IT management with the InfoWorld Daily newsletter, our summary of the top tech happenings. ]
Anyone who wanted to view the full Web address only needed to click on the Origin Chip to reveal it.
The Origin Chip first rolled out to the Chrome Canary browser, but is also available under "chrome://flags/#origin-chip-in-omnibox" in the stable version of Chrome for Windows.
Although well into development, the Origin Chip appears further than ever from becoming a full-fledged feature or option in Chrome. "Because the origin chip work is backburnered, dropping this [issue] to P3," Chrome team member Peter Kasting said about one aspect of the Origin Chip on Google's issue tracker in Google Code. Kasting's comments, while only appearing on one programming issue for the Origin Chip, suggest the entire feature is being put on hold.
Cnet first reported on Kasting's comments. Google was unavailable for comment at this writing.
The major appeal of the Origin Chip is that it would simplify browsing and make it clearer to users which site they were on. That way it would be harder for phishing scams to trick people into thinking they were visiting MyBank.com when they were really seeing MyBank.com.org--the base domain in this example being Com.org rather than MyBank.com.
The concept of the Origin Chip set off debate about whether URLs should be hidden from PC users with both sides arguing their way offered greater security.
Kasting suggested on Google+ in late 2013 that the Origin Chip offered other benefits, such as making the Omnibox more inviting to type in and a potential place to highlight search terms.
Love it or hate it, the Origin Chip appears to be an unattended feature at this point, and it's not clear if Google plans further work on the feature.
Google isn't the only browser maker to try hiding the URL. Apple's Safari browser in iOS also hides the full URL displaying only the base Web address. Similar to the Origin Chip, tapping on the address bar in Safari for iOS reveals the entire URL.