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Google temporarily brings ‘www’ back to Chrome after backlash

Earlier this month, Google set in motion its plans to restructure the URL by hiding ‘www’ and ‘m’ in Chrome’s address bar. Backlash surrounding the move has prompted Google to temporarily revert things back, initiating a “public standardisation discussion” in the meantime.

With the release of Chrome 69, Google began omitting ‘www’ and ‘m’ from its omnibox, claiming that it made for a much cleaner address bar that could potentially alleviate security concerns thanks to its lack of clutter. Users have since voiced their concerns of the opposite, believing people are much more likely to fall for phishing scams with illegitimate links slipping through the cracks.

Despite the public reasoning, many believe that this is actually an attempt to standardise its fast-loading, albeit restricted Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), only available on sites like Google, Twitter, Bing and a handful of other places. There have been numerous reports regarding Google’s AMP and why it’s a bad thing, explaining that the idea is taking away the independence of various sources that form the spider-like world-wide web in favour of a centralised platform that Google runs itself.

For now, Google has returned things back to normal, bringing both ‘www’ and the ‘m’ mobile variant back, but this won’t last. Google Chromium product manager Emily Schecter has already laid out plans to remove ‘www’ once again when Chrome 70 launches, although ‘m’ looks to be safe for the time being.

“In M70, we plan to re-ship an adjusted version: we will elide ‘www’ but not ‘m’. We are not going to elide “m” in M70 because we found large sites that have a user-controlled “m” subdomain. There is more community consensus that sites should not allow the “www” subdomain to be user controlled,” states Schecter in a blog post.

“We plan to initiate a public standardization discussion with the appropriate standards bodies to explicitly reserve ‘www’ or ‘m’ as special case subdomains under-the-hood. We do not plan to standardize how browsers should treat these special cases in their UI. We plan to revisit the ‘m’ subdomain at a later date, after having an opportunity to discuss further with the community. Please leave feedback, or let us know about sites that have user-controlled subdomains at ‘www’ or ‘m’ in this bug.”

KitGuru Says: While it’s commendable that Google would listen to the feedback of its users, I have to question what use it will do when the company already has clearly defined plans it intends to stick to. Still, those opposing AMP should make their voices heard while they can, and hopefully evoke the change they want. How do you feel about Google’s AMP?

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