Google Chrome Enables Developers to Hack the Omnibox

Google Chrome's browser extensions are a big part of the experience, and many users could not live without their key addons. At the same time, plenty of developers are improving Chrome or their web products via the set of extension APIs Google provides. The Chrome team is now making another useful API available, enabling developers to enhance the Omnibox.

"One of the most powerful aspects of Google Chrome is the omnibox, also known as the address bar. You can type URLs and searches into one unified place and it all just works," Matt Perry, Software Engineer at Google, writes.

"With the new omnibox API, extension developers can make the omnibox even more powerful," he announced.

"The omnibox API lets extension developers add their own keyword command to the omnibox. When the user types a query prefixed by this keyword, the extension can suggest potential completions and react to the user's input," he explains.

Effectively, the new API enables developers to add all sorts of functionality to the Omnibox and change or enhance the existing one. One simple way of doing this is by creating a custom search extension, some of which are already popping up.

Chrome already automatically adds search engines and pages to its built-in list. Start typing the name of a search page you use often and you are prompted to do a query on that page, by pressing the tab key, rather than on your default search engine.

But this could be further tweaked, enabling users to filter or customize their searches even more.

But the omnibox API goes beyond simple search features. One existing extension that Google is highlighting, enables users to search within the titles of the opened tabs and switch between them from the Omnibox, just like Firefox 4 does by default.

Extension and addons are a given for any browser that wants to capture a mainstream audience. Most Firefox or Google Chrome users have at least some extensions installed and there are plenty out there to cover any needs. But this doesn't mean that new functionality isn't welcomed by developers.

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