Google isn't jettisoning the Omnibox, the URL address bar/search box combination the company introduced at the product's inception in 2008.
At least, the Omnibox isn't going anywhere soon, sources in the know told Google Watch.
Google is experimenting with a few variants where the Omnibox has been removed to add more space in the browser window. These are simply "explorations."
The news bubbled forth over the weekend when Chrome engineer Jeff Chang noted on the Chromium developer Google Group that there are "a number of UI/front-end efforts under way" for Chrome.
In the body of his note, he linked to this Web page of Chrome Windows user-interface variants. In this "compact navigation," the current URL shows while a site is loading, and can be edited or changed by clicking on the tab.
The URL box is accessible via a drop-down tab underneath a Chrome tab.
The UI variants are simply Chromium developer design mock-ups and won't be instituted as new features in Chrome 11, and probably not even this year. Google is just hoping developers toy with the open-source platform.
Imagine what users would do without an address bar. Freak out! This is a feature users have become accustomed to over the past 15-plus years.
Sure, snipping the Omnibox would save Google valuable browser real estate, paving the way for the search engine to add, perhaps tabs for key applications and other links to the Chrome Web Store.
But Google would be taking quite a risk if it dropped the address box, which doubles as its search box. People have gotten quite comfortable with it, and by people, I include the 120 million Chrome users.
Then again, Google does love to disrupt markets. So, in that sense, maybe it wouldn't be such a surprise.
Personally, I'm more interested in Google's rendition of the touch-screen interface for Chrome:
Chrome OS tablet anyone?