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Google test changes autocomplete functionality in Chrome browser

Most web browsers support autocomplete that is triggered when users type in the browser’s address bar. Google Chrome is no exception to that: the browser can suggest URLs that are already open in tabs, it can display results from browsing history or search suggestions.

The first autocomplete suggestion is reserved for matching searches or URLs, e.g. Eg If you have this site article open, open a New Tab page in Chrome and type ghacks, the full URL may be displayed as the first suggestion in the browser.

Chrome will not suggest the site as a default result if you type part of the title instead or if you type a non-root domain part of the site. If you type tech, you may get this site as a result, but it will never be the default suggestion in the Chrome web browser.

Google is running an experiment that changes that. Raises the title and other queries so that the web browser returns them as the first suggestion.

The following screenshot shows what this looks like in Chrome if the experiment is enabled.

Chrome Title Suggestions

The Firefox script returned a matching URL as the first suggestion that doesn’t have Firefox in the domain name.

Chrome users who want to test this should enable an experimental flag to do so. Chrome Canary users get additional options on top of that at the time of writing.

  1. Load chrome://flags/#omnibox-rich-autocompletion in the browser address bar and press the Enter key to load the result.
  2. Activate the menu to the right of Omnibox Rich Autocompletion to configure the feature. Note that it contains several different layouts and algorithms.
    1. Select one, e.g. Eg Title AC enabled or Title AC enabled and AC without prefix.
  3. Restart the browser.

Chrome changes the logic it uses to display default suggestions based on user input.

Chrome Canary users get two additional flags at the time of writing. These are:

  • Omnibox Rich Autocomplete Minimum Characters: To set the minimum character length to trigger autocomplete.
  • Show additional text omnibox rich autocomplete: to disable the display of the title of the suggestion or the additional text of the URL.

Google engineers identified several limitations with the current design of autocomplete in Chrome:

  • URLs can be much longer than titles.
  • URLs are more difficult to remember and type.
  • Navigation suggestions that are not auto-completed are displayed below the search suggestions with the search grouping intro.
  • Users expect Chrome to show matching sites that they visit frequently.

Here is a comparison between the current versions of Chrome and the versions of Chrome with the experimental feature enabled for the Space Shuttle x sample tip –

Input currently autocomplete Autocomplete with this function
space s

(title prefix)

Nope Yes
shuttle x

(title without prefix)

Nope Yes

(url prefix)

Yes Yes

(URL without prefix)

Nope Yes

closing words

The main purpose of the feature is to improve suggestions in Chrome by having the browser display non-domain input as the default suggestion if a match is found.

Now you: What is your opinion on this? (via Techdows)

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