Google Chrome to offer 'Link Previews' when hovering over links

Google Chrome to offer 'Link Previews' when hovering over links

August 08, 2023

In a move set to transform web browsing, Google is preparing to unveil a groundbreaking feature called "Link Previews" for its Chrome browser. Currently in development for desktop use, this new feature has the potential to revolutionise the way users interact with web content.

Link Preview grants users the ability to access a concise preview of a web page by simply clicking or hovering over a hyperlink. This preview provides a glimpse of the content on the linked page, empowering users to make informed decisions about whether to proceed and explore the full page or continue their current browsing. This innovative functionality not only saves time but also optimises data usage by preventing the unnecessary loading of unwanted content.

Among the options outlined in the development documents, users will have the choice to open these previews in a new tab or within the Side panel, offering enhanced flexibility in their browsing experience.

One particularly intriguing aspect of the upcoming feature is the concept of "Ephemeral Window and Tabs". Drawing inspiration from Chrome's existing ephemeral tab feature for Android, this approach involves the introduction of an ephemeral or temporary window that houses multiple preview tabs within each standard tab.

Here's how it works: When a user decides to explore a previewed page in-depth, known as "preview tab 2", they can navigate to a new tab where the preview tab 2 will detach from the ephemeral/temporary window and transform into a regular tab within the current window. This feature boosts browsing efficiency by allowing users to screen content before fully committing, refining the browsing experience to cater to their specific interests and requirements.

However, amidst the excitement surrounding this game-changing feature, some concerns have been raised about its privacy and security implications. In response, Google Chrome software developer Takashi Toyoshima addressed these worries. He acknowledged the potential for exploitation, such as the running of harmful JavaScript in the preview window.

To address these concerns, Toyoshima assured users that the feature will be safeguarded by capability control mechanisms, similar to those currently used for prerendering technology. Detailed behaviours of the feature are currently under discussion with Google's security and privacy teams.

Furthermore, Toyoshima emphasised that Google intends to impose stringent restrictions on cross-site activities and may even require a more explicit user action to trigger the preview. Additionally, users who prioritise privacy will have the option to disable the feature altogether.

In essence, Google's objective with Link Previews is to offer a safer and more efficient browsing alternative to the traditional practice of opening multiple tabs to check sub-articles or preload content.

While Google is currently exploring the new design internally, the IT company has developed a new search engine based on artificial intelligence. The exact timeline for the release of this feature to the general public remains undisclosed. However, as the development progresses, users can look forward to a browsing experience that empowers them with greater control, enhanced efficiency, and improved privacy measures.