Next Safari for Mac hides full Web addresses

Web addresses can be bloated with incomprehensible text, and a demo shows Apple likely will tuck most of an address away in the next Safari. Expect pushback: URLs can be useful, too.

In this demo at WWDC, the next Safari hid the full address of the Ansel Adams Wikipedia page.
In this demo at WWDC, the next Safari hid the full address of the Ansel Adams Wikipedia page. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google started testing the idea of hiding full Web addresses in its Chrome browser, and it looks like Apple will follow suit with Safari for OS X.

At its Worldwide Developers Conference this week, Apple showed off the new version of Safari set to ship later this year in OS X 10.10, aka Yosemite. Although Apple didn't mention the address-hiding feature, it became apparent when the Wikipedia page for Ansel Adams showed just "en.wikipedia.org" instead of the full address, "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansel_Adams" of the page.

As with Google's approach, the full address can be revealed for those who want to peek -- at least it seemed that way from the Apple demo. On Safari in iOS 7, Apple already hides the full address, called an URL, short for uniform resource locator.

Hiding obscure coding from ordinary users isn't necessarily a bad thing, and Web addresses can be much harder to understand that the one above from Ansel Adams. Google has said it showing only the domain of the Web address also can foil phishing attempts, in which a bad actor tries to trick a user into thinking a bogus version of a familiar Web site in order to steal data like usernames and passwords.

But the change is still a big deal, since Web addresses are a fundamental part of the functioning of the Web, and many objected to Chrome's approach.

"This is like a GPS only telling you what state you're in. The problem with this and moves like it is that you are removing people from what is really going on," complained one CNET reader. "Much like with Windows files and folders, you put layers of cosmetics on top of everything, and people end up with no idea of the mechanics, and thus are unable to troubleshoot when needed."

URLs can be helpful in other ways. The New York Times uses an URL structure that reflects the date of a story's publication, and the Google and Apple approach hide the distinction between "cnet.com" and "cnet.com/news" for example.

Safari on an iPad with iOS 7 hides the full URL of this story, showing just "cnet.com" as the Web address.
Safari on an iPad with iOS 7 hides the full URL of this story, showing just "cnet.com" as the Web address. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

(Via Daring Fireball)

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Want affordable gadgets for your student?

Everyday finds that will make students' lives easier: chargers, cables, headphones, and even a bona fide gadget or two!