Google has a new experiment going on with Chrome omnibox – or the address bar, as it’s more commonly known. The trial relates to the autocomplete function that saves you from having to type out the full URL of a site you have already visited, and it looks like a pretty major upgrade is on the way.
Currently, if you want to revisit TechRadar.com (although, of course, you should have it bookmarked!) you can start to type the first few letters and Chrome will suggest the rest. But the upcoming change will enable autocomplete for the titles of pages.
The new feature goes by the name Omnibox Autocomplete Titles, and Google says that it “allows autocompleting bookmark, history, and document suggestions when the user input is a prefix of their titles, as opposed to their URLs”. But what does this mean in practice?
With the new feature enabled, Chrome will also autocomplete URLs if you type something other than the first few letters. This means that to visit my TechRadar profile page, you could start to type ‘wyci’ and Chrome will autocomplete it to techradar.com/uk/author/mark-wycislik-wilson. This is extremely handy if you’ve visited a page, but can only remember part of the address, not necessarily which site it was on.
In addition to this, the new feature allows for autocompletion based on a page’s title, not just its URL. Google uses the example of a Wikipedia page about space shuttles. If you’ve previously visited en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle, autocomplete currently only works if you start types ‘en.wiki’. But with the Omnibox Autocomplete Titles feature you could also type ‘wiki/space_shu’ or ‘space shut’ to benefit from autocompletion.
To try out the updated omnibox, it does not matter which edition of Chrome you are using – you can try it in the stable release, the beta version, or the Canary build for developers. Use the following steps:
- Launch Chrome and visit chrome://flags
- Search for ‘Omnibox Autocomplete Titles’
- Select ‘Enabled’ from the drop-down menu for this setting
- Restart Chrome
If you are running the Canary build of Chrome, there are some extra related flags that you can enable as well: Omnibox Rich Autocompletion, Omnibox Rich Autocompletion Min characters, and Omnibox Rich Autocompletion Show Additional Text.
The feature works in Windows, macOS, Linux and Chrome OS, but it’s not clear if Google will bring the same feature to mobile users as well.