When your omnibar assumes



The Omnibar. Google Chrome’s all in one search and address bar was one of its most innovative features when the web browser hit the scene years ago. Google decided that we could save space by combining the search and address bars and just having the browser recognize the user’s intention, making more room for the content below, which is what we all wan to get at anyway. There’s just one feature of the omnibar that irks me and feels almost negligent of a huge number of use cases. When you type the names of some popular websites (I see this with YouTube and Wikipedia) and then press the spacebar, Chrome automatically changes the search to a search of those websites. This is great for all the cases where I actually  do intend to search the website but am just using Google because I’m lazy. But in the use cases where I do want to search Google for information about the website, its crazy frustrating, especially because Chrome makes the decision as soon as you press spacebar. It even does it if I type the website and the first word of my query with no space and then add the space again later!  It’s surprisingly inflexible and feels out of character for Chrome, if applications can have character.

Sidebar* : What’s worse is that as an iPhone user, I already have this mental model that when I enter text and the interface wants to make an assumption about what I mean to do (like in auto-correction), I can just backspace what iOS assumed I meant and put what I actually meant and iOS backs off. Chrome does not back off. If you type a website it recognizes and then insert a space, your ass is searching that website now.

* I don’t actually blame Chrome for this; it’s just my brain. But I feel like I can’t be alone.