Google And Mozilla Start Debate Over Address Bar

By | May 24, 2011

Google And Mozilla Start Debate Over Address Bar

With Google allowing users to hide the address bar in canary builds of Chrome 13, Mozilla has decided to release the LessChrome HD extension which pretty much does the same thing. This has seemingly sparked a bit of a debate in the browser industry, as the address bar has always been an integral part of the web browser.

In reaction to news reports that both Google and Mozilla are experimenting with options that will let Firefox and Chrome users hide or outright terminate the address bar to free up more screen estate, Matthew Gertner, the CEO of Salsita Software, had the following to say:

Who would have thought that the humble browser URL bar would spark so much interest? This is more about the browser wars than anything. People like to focus on areas where browsers are copying each other. I see this as another example of Chrome going after Firefox by eliminating even more of the browser. This is another shot across Mozilla’s bow.

Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC who monitors browsers, agreed with Gertner on the browser competition angle, but praised Mozilla for reacting so hastily to Google’s option.

I am impressed with how quickly Mozilla was able to respond to what Google is doing with Chrome, showing that the timelines for browser innovation has truly shifted,” said Hilwa in an email reply to questions today.

Both individuals agreed that the issue was more elaborate than the address bar, however.

The URL bar is a non-story. The much deeper question is how browsers are evolving beyond a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model. – Gertner

There’s more going on here than just full-screen browsing. We’re ripe for innovation in this space. – Hilwa

Opinions wary from whether Google’s move to make Chrome’s address bar optional shows the company’s focus on search, and could be seen as another attempt to lock users into searching as the way to find sites, and eliminate the typing of URLs altogether.

Gertner and Hilwa both noted there are also disadvantages to removing the address bar. One such downside is leaving users without an easy way to recognize phishing attempts. Without an address bar, identity theft attacks that rely on directing victims to fake sites are harder to detect.

About (Author Profile)

Being passionate about software, Armin joined in early 2011 and has been actively writing ever since. Having accepted the challenge, he also enjoys watching anime, indulging in good books, staying fit and healthy, and trying new things.

Comments (14)

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  1. Steven Lemon says:

    Been doing this in opera for the last 2+ years…
    tapping f2 to see the address bar, figure my hand are already going to be on the keyboard to type in the URL.
    I do have to turn it back on occasionally to check a site is safe, get access to my extensions -_- though.

  2. Shane Bundy says:

    I’m guessing Chrome 11 is being used instead because we don’t like 13. True, or a typo?

  3. Armin says:

    I believe it was a typo!

  4. Chhay Leng says:

    This is the only reason why Chrome and Firefox are trying to hide the address bar  :

    • Armin says:

      Is it an efficient use of space, though? Unless I am missing a customization option, the whole bar at the top remains empty.

    • Quest says:

      Lame. Press F11 if you want hard more pixels. 

  5. Rudi Visser says:

    I used a prototype browser that did this around 2 years ago.

    Exactly this.

  6. Senina Chung says:

    It’s a new idea, I think users need some
    time to inspect and accept it. Personally it’s cool. I will try the add-on of
    firefox in orca browser to see if it can be used there.


  7. Anonymous says:

    Ooh Ooh has Mozilla also copied Opera over the blue menu icon in the Labs release?

    Wow Mozilla. How about you copy the logo next?

  8. Mikah says:

    Same old, copying yet another feature of Opera & pretending its a new idea.

  9. greg. says:

     IE9 is ahead of both of them as far as space concerned. IE9’s full screen mode is the best because you can view the url and everything with just moving the mouse up top of your screen. Firefox similar but when you move your mouse to the top the screen it jitters (anoying) and goes back to resolution as if the url was back. Unlike IE9 it pops up when needed than slides away with ease no jitter. I dont see why if anyone is using IE9 wont use full screen mode its a must have use amazing feature. Someone should do an article on it.