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For Chrome, the Omnibox is not enough

Google is slowly upgrading the New Tab page to include its own search box, which can be changed to a default engine other than Google Search.

Google's latest New Tab page includes embedded search, which can be changed via an API.

Google has begun to make its latest revision to the New Tab page in Chrome available to a small group of people, the company said in a blog post on Monday.

Google has said that it hopes that the cosmetic update, first announced last December and previously available to some people only in Chrome's Beta and Dev testing channels, will result in faster search times. The New Tab page with embedded search is available to a limited number of people on Chrome Stable for Windows and Mac, and Chromebooks.

The search box includes an open Application Programming Interface (API), so that people can set other search engines as the default search engine on the New Tab page. This is an interesting move, because Google could force either the New Tab or the combined search-and-location bar "Omnibox" to be permanently set to Google. Instead, while they default to Google Search, they can be changed. In theory, you could have two default search engines: one for the Omnibox and one for the New Tab page. The API is still being developed and is expected to change functionality before it's finalized.

Along with a new search box displayed front and center, the New Tab page integrates familiar Google account navigation elements from Google+ and Gmail in the upper right. It places a link to Chrome Web Apps at the top, the Search box offers a microphone for spoken queries, and the collection of recently and frequently visited tab thumbnails has been reduced slightly in size.

Google did not reveal when the revamped New Tab page would be available to all Chrome users, saying only that it is "still turning the dials under the hood."