If you haven’t noticed, the search box in the middle of Chrome’s New Tab Page (NTP) is actually “fake”. It does not itself perform any search. The moment you start typing, the focus is moved to the address bar (Omnibox), and that’s where the real search happens.
This might change soon. A code change request that I spotted today talks about converting the “Fakebox” into a “Realbox”
Chrome New Tab Page: start adding a “real” search box (“realbox”)
Adds a feature ([k]NtpRealbox)
Implements a UI identical to the “fakebox” (but with real )
Does some embeddedSearch plumbing
Sends new bounds and transforms them just like Autofill
I think it may make sense to launch this earlier on fullscreen, where the “fakebox” + omnibox experience is pretty bad. If so, we’ll either implement that aspect in JS (fullscreen detection) and let it flow out embedded in the client or add a separate flag.
Why Change? – Accessibility
Looks like this change was triggered by two reasons. First, there is an accessibility-related bug connected to this code change. When the bug was first opened, the first response was that it was expected behavior from a non-accessibility perspective. The comment then goes on to explain why the “Fakebox” was created:
This is intended behavior, and not related to screen readers: The “search box” on the NTP (called the “fakebox”) isn’t actually a search box, it just redirects to the omnibox. I believe the reasoning for this behavior was:
a) Having two actual search boxes would be confusing.
b) Educate users that they can search using the omnibox.
Another comment on the same bug, however, points out that this behavior is opposed to accessibility guidelines:
a11y triage: This bug is still around in basically the same form. The entire “fakebox” idea is almost directly opposed to WCAG criterion 3.2.1 (predictability of focus) so I think we need to do some very careful design here, with UX expertise involved, to resolve this tension. We also need to consider 2.4.7 (visibility of focus) since the fake keyboard focus indicator is the opposite of compliance with that section.
Why Change – Fullscreen Mode
The second reason for this change is documented in the second bug associated with this CL. It talks about an issue in the fullscreen mode.
Issue 243926: In fullscreen mode, NTP fakebox should allow typing and navigate on hitting enter
If you open a new tab page in fullscreen mode and start typing in the search box (which is the “fakebox”) the address bar will become visible, because that is the “real” search box. This takes you partially out of the full-screen mode, to make the address bar visible.
These are the two reasons why the team is considering removing the ‘Fakebox’ and placing a “Realbox” in its place. This change will take several weeks for it to show up in the Stable version of Chrome. When it does, I am sure you will notice this change.
What do you think about this whole “Fakebox” idea? Do you think search should actually happen inside the New Tab Page’s search box? Let me know in the comments!