Is this the next generation of Internet browser? Chrome may have always been minimal, but its next incarnation is reportedly leaving out one of most well recognised features of web browsers since their introduction in 1993 – the URL bar.
The ability to directly address a website has always been one of the most essential features of a web browser. However, both Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox are considering leaving the URL bar out altogether, with options to hide it in their latest browser versions.
Google have already trimmed a number of unnecessary features and merged buttons together to save space for web content in Chrome, and Mozilla and Microsoft are also following this minimal trend towards feature reduction. In this new world, it seems every pixel counts, and all of the major players are sacrificing what they can in order to create an elegant interface.
Google’s initial intentions to remove the URL bar came to light in February this year, with the first version now implemented in Canary versions of Chrome 13. The user now has the ability to hide the URL, clicking on a tab to reveal a URL bar that will disappear again when the mouse pointer moves away. This gives web designers 30 more pixels to work with, which while not much, is becoming more of an issue on smaller screens like those on tablets.
Mozilla Labs have announced an experimental add-on for Firefox 4 and Firefox 5, which also aims to do away with the permanent URL bar. Less Chrome HD 1 has a similar effect to the hidden URL bar in Chrome, although it is displayed as soon as the cursor is moved to the top of the screen.