One of the best parts about Chrome has always been the omnibox, and the ease with which searching the web is compared to browsers that came before it (though some have caught up in this regard now). Google has made additional search-related improvements to Chrome over the years – most notably the addition of Google Instant. But more search-friendliness is on the way.
Google announced today that it is going to begin testing variations of Chrome’s New Tab Page in which the user’s default search provider will be able to add a search box or “otherwise customize” the page.
“While you can search straight from the omnibox in Chrome, we’ve found that many people still navigate to their search engine’s home page to initiate a search instead,” says software engineer David Holloway on the Chromium blog. “The goal is to save people time by helping them search and navigate the web faster.”
“We’ll also allow search engines to display the user’s search terms right in the omnibox, which avoids the need for a second search box on the results page,” adds Holloway. “This new capability, along with other ways to improve search suggestions, are exposed in a new Embedded Search API, an extension of the existing SearchBox API. Search engines can implement any part of the specification if they’d like their users to experience a customized variation of the NTP experience.”
A small set of users on the Dev channel on Windows and Chrome OS how have Google selected as their default search provider will start seeing test variations starting today. Halloway says Mac will be coming soon.
Google plans to better integrate other search engines in its browser by giving developers access to a new Embedded Search API. On the Chromium blog, Chrome software engineer David Holloway has explained how the development team is currently working on the implementation details that will allow other providers to display a search box on Chrome’s New Tab Page (NTP). Currently, the search engine in Chrome can only be changed for the browser’s “omnibox” (which combines search functionality with the address bar).
Apparently, the developers found that, even with the omnibox preferences changed, many users still navigate to the web sites of the search engines anyway. By allowing search providers to customise the NTP, the developers want “to save people time by helping them search and navigate the web faster”, says Holloway. Google will begin to roll out a number of different implementations of the new feature to “a small set of users” of the Chrome Dev channel on Windows and Chrome OS. They will currently only be offered to users who have their search preference set to Google’s search; those users should “begin seeing variations of the new experience”. An implementation on the Mac version of Chrome is planned to come soon.
The blog post does not specify when the new feature will be available in the Chrome builds for Linux. The developers are soliciting for feedback via the Chromium bug tracker from users who do receive one of the new implementations.