Coming Soon: Chrome’s Link Preview in Pop-Up Windows

Chrome developers have adopted an option in the code base of the Blink engine to include an experimental “Link Preview” feature that lets you display a page preview window that shows up when you hover over a link or hold down a click on a link.

The window is displayed on top of the content in a form similar to a video in picture-in-picture mode and allows for a quick evaluation of the content without opening it in a separate window or tab. If more detailed information is needed, the preview site can be moved to a separate tab or sidebar.

The project is being developed by Takashi Toyoshima, one of the developers of the Prerender content rendering mechanism, which complements the ability to preload the links most likely to be clicked. The difference comes down to the fact that in addition to loading pages, their content is rendered in a buffer without waiting for user actions, which allows you to provide an instant display of the resource after clicking. Prerender has so far only been used to proactively render the content of recommendations in the Omnibox address bar. Link Preview extends the application of Prerender and allows it to be used not only to prepare for instantaneous opening of a new page, but also for previewing.

Coming Soon: Chrome's Link Preview in Pop-Up Windows

The Link Preview implementation is at the experimental prototype stage, available as patches, not yet peer-reviewed and not yet included in the Chromium project repositories. Implementation details are also not yet confirmed and privacy and security concerns are still under discussion.


To isolate the processing of content from third-party sites during preview in the context of the current tab, it is proposed to use the mechanisms already used in Prerender. In addition, the developers are considering the possibility of opening the preview only after an explicit user action (e.g., holding down a click on a link) instead of the automatic display implemented in the prototype when the cursor is hovered over. They also intend to add an option to disable previews in the settings.

Coming Soon: Chrome's Link Preview in Pop-Up Windows

To display previews, it is proposed to use the concept of ephemeral windows (ephemeral window), based on the system of ephemeral tabs already used in Chrome for Android. The idea is that each tab can include an isolated and invisible ephemeral window in which the preview tabs are placed. If the user opens the previewed site in a new tab, the preview tab is detached from the ether window and transformed into a regular tab bound to the main browser window. The advantage of this solution is that all the necessary functionality is already present in the browser, and you only need to add a new window type.

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