Feature Friday: Link Preview

Google Chrome on the Jelly Bean version of Android is a joy to use, particularly on the 7" screen on the Nexus 7. I do almost all my web reading on that device now. Actually I do almost everything other than blogging on that device now, but I digress.

One of my favorite features in Chrome for Android is something called "link preview." When you touch a part of a web page with a lot of links on it, you get a popup that looks like this:

Link preview
[image credit: http://www.mobilexweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/links.png]

That popup allows you to select the exact link you want. It is awesome.

However, it doesn't work on all websites. I am not entirely sure what is required on the website side to power this feature, but, for example, I can't get this feature to work on Hacker News where it would be awesome. It's entirely possible that I am doing something wrong. If so, I'd love to know what.

But this works on most websites I use and I have found it to be a very handy feature. I suspect it will become standard on mobile browsers, particularly on smartphones.

Nicely done Google.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Dan Lewis

    Why don’t you use the Nexus7 for blogging? Too hard to type on?

    1. fredwilson

      there is no typepad app and i don’t have enough confidence in the mobile browserhaving a browser crash 30 mins into a blog post is one of the suckier things that can happen to you

      1. Dan Lewis

        Could you type into a notes app, save, and copy/paste later?I know that’s a clunky work-around but I’m asking for my own purposes. I’m looking for a device I can draft a blog post on during a 30-45 minute train ride and format etc. later on at a laptop. Would the Nexus7 work for you if you did it that way?

        1. fredwilson

          That would work great

          1. Vitomir Jevremovic

            Actually, typing could be saved as a last action wherever it is done.. or a form that is filled. Wonder why nobody did that already. It would save so much trouble in this world.. who knows maybe even lives 🙂

        2. RichardF

          If you get a tablet that you can use swype as the input method then writing a post in a notes app and pasting it would be a breeze. I ‘think’ but am not sure that swype is in beta on the nexus 7

          1. ShanaC

            swype plus tablet seems a bit weird to me..

          2. RichardF

            not for inputting lots of text, it’s great, I use it all the time on my mobile, so it’s a natural step for me on the tablet

          3. K_Berger

            I use swype on my galaxy s2 but I find that when I have a lot of typing to do (taking notes or long emails) I prefer a standard keyboard. Keyboard of choice is Smart Keyboard Pro.

          4. Techman

            What is swype now? I have never used it, and it is not available on my Android phone.

          5. RichardF

            Its an input method Michael. I should be on your android unless its jellybean.

          6. Techman

            I don’t have it on my 2.3 LG device. Is it specific to Samsung devices?

          7. RichardF

            Its not specific to samsung, have you checked input method in settings. I don’t know your phone so cannot be sure its installed.

          8. Techman

            I don’t see the setting. My Phone is the LG Optimus Zip.

      2. jason wright

        cloud backup operating in the background that stores docs in real time as they are being typed.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. jason wright

            do now? where?

        2. Donna Brewington White

          I’m using Elephant Drive for cloud backup storage and loving it…or perhaps it’s just cloud storage that I love …or just the cloud itself.

      3. John

        You should move your blog to WordPress from Typepad. Not only is the interface better, they have a mobile app, but most importantly your post saves as you go.The best part is that I’m sure you could reach out to WordPress VIP and they’d do all the work of moving your blog as well.

        1. fredwilson

          i should do thatit’s just a lot of work

          1. Techman

            CC: @twitter-3043371:disqus Fred, if you move to WordPress, make sure that it is self hosted by you or via a web host. I think you already know how locked down the WordPress.com system is. I think Disqus can assist you in porting your comments over, as I know that you have a lot. At least over 100 comments per thread, and thousands of posts….Yep….that is a lot…

          2. John

            I don’t think you’ll find it as hard as you think. Just need the right WordPress guru to help you. Plus, since your comments are on disqus, it will be even easier to do.@MHazell:disqus WordPress.com VIP is much more open than just signing up for WordPress.com. I bet Fred wouldn’t have an issue with the VIP side of it. Plus, they’d do all the work moving it over.

      4. Techman

        No auto save feature is available from the web interface?And have you tried the Dolphin web browser instead of the native Android one? You might have better results. Not sure about Chrome though.

  2. jason wright

    like a magnifying glass effect? I don’t get it.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, plus scrolling in the window

      1. jason wright

        now I get it.

  3. Pravin J

    You’re not doing it wrong, Link Preview is browser feature. Apparently it is supposed to detect multiple links and show the zoomed-in version always (the one you expected); but it fails many times. Read that on one of the reviews.

    1. fredwilson

      Got it. Thanks

  4. Austin Clements

    While I commend Google for the effort, I think it is really up to the site developer to consider designing a UI or content layout that is suitable for mobile visitors. As more people optimize for mobile I’m not sure how long this feature will be around. Which I suppose is a good thing.

    1. Peter G

      I agree, you have to design everything to be responsive now, it’s going to be a greater challenge as the relationship between pixel width and screen size is less and less obvious, so intelligent browsers are always going to be helpful, especially for older websites. Chrome’s rapid development schedule means lots of new cool features but also lots of bugs and crashes.



  5. maxniederhofer

    I think people need to set the viewport meta tag for it to work?

    1. fredwilson

      On the server side?

      1. maxniederhofer

        Yes, viewport meta tag would be in HTML. But that’s not what you meant. I was confused by the sample image.

        1. Techman

          What is the HTML tag that enables this?

  6. JimHirshfield

    So, it’s like an index of links that are _anywhere_ on the page? Or just links near where you tapped?

    1. fredwilson

      Where you tapped

      1. William Mougayar

        But it’s not just for links. It blows-up any area you tap, right?

  7. William Mougayar

    I will have to try that one. Does it exist for the iPhone or is this a case of Google 1 – Apple 0? 

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t know

    2. kidmercury

      probably a case of google beating apple

      1. William Mougayar

        but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a very significant battle 🙂

    3. Elia Freedman

      I think Apple would argue that their approach is to pinch to zoom in and then tap directly.

  8. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    is this feature available on chrome browser for Galaxy Nexus as well?

  9. nomenot

    It’s not just on the Jelly Bean version of Chrome, it is on my Galaxy S3, which is still Ice Cream Sandwich.

  10. Gabriel Brown

    I think Opera started this on mobile browsers. They’ve had it for ages.Agreed, though, it’s a good feature.

  11. kidmercury

    the top trending topic on google+ is #isheep! hahahhaahere is a great image i found surfing through that trending topichttps://lh4.googleuserconte…

    1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      LOL – I am interested to see whether they do suffer a backlash from their fans or whether it will just be dark cloud that quickly passes by

      1. Techman

        Most fans won’t care — they’ll just buy the adapter and move on. Its those that don’t use Apple products that see the bad news here.

    2. Techman

      Ha Ha! Apple pic of the day. Seriously.

      1. Dr. Pepe ✅

        They appear to know how to milk sheep. 😉

        1. Techman

          Disappointing how some people fall for Apple marketing. I have no idea who is willing to spend that much money on a device that is essentially a few pins wrapped in an outer plastic shell. Oh, and its white too.

          1. Dr. Pepe ✅

            I read an amusing article at the Daily Mail yesterday about people (in the UK, I think, but it might have been worldwide) complaining about their new iPhone 5s being scratched new out of the box. Seems Apple have some quality control problems with FoxCon. What’s more amusing is that the buyers aren’t even checking the goods before walking out of the store with them.

          2. Techman

            LOL. Funny. PS refer to your email, I am sending you a new message. Subject: [avc] Re: Feature Friday: Link Preview

          3. Dr. Pepe ✅


  12. William Mougayar

    I’ve just installed a chrome plugin SwiftPreview that does the same thing on the desktop and I found it very annoying. It continuously generates pop-ups as I move the cursor on the page. It’s distracting and confusing. I’ve just turned it off.Maybe it makes sense for mobile browsing in the tap mode, but the hovering of a mouse makes this feature annoying.

    1. Techman

      Well an app like that is designed for touchscreens. And you wouldn’t even need apps like that if you can calibrate your touchscreen to your fingers.

  13. scottythebody

    This is cool, but probably highly dependent on how the links are coded in the output document. There are so many messy ways to do it that it would be very difficult to detect them all.

  14. Nate Quigley

    nice zig on iPhone zag day 🙂

  15. heuristocrat

    I’m am amateur here but I started redoing our websites so that they are device-sensitive and will show different content based on the screen size and all that. As is noted here I think everything depends on how the site developer codes it up. But of course everyone wants their site to be the best on mobile so it should become common.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      This web to mobile transition/translation is fascinating stuff. BTW, we are all amateurs at something.

  16. leigh

    Not sure what’s going on over at Google these days but something feels like it has changed. Maybe they’ve stopped thinking a social strategy = a social network? 🙂 #googlelove

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Good one Leigh. I wonder if one of the secrets to doing social is just giving the user a simple flexible platform and watching what they do with it. User-generated product development FTW! I think that played a huge part in Twitter’s early success. But then you have the wild success of the “Father knows best” approach by Apple and Facebook which seems to debunk my theory.Edit: Oh, right, I was talking about Social and referenced Apple as an example. Principle still the same.

  17. JamesHRH

    Can’t contribute to the Droidfest…..alll Apple everywhere.However, saw a neat feature today. Looked up the local Apple store (as it turns out) and the listing had several key info-bits……one of which was ‘Friday hours – 9:30 to….’Day specific. Nice.

    1. jason wright

      Out of curiosity, being an apple everywhere kind of guy, do you feel in any way deprived of ‘openness’ or trapped in a curated world of apple’s choosing?

      1. Techman

        You should feel trapped as Apple is locking down their systems and they have no intentions of opening it up.

  18. Albert R

    If software must be patented, this seems like one of the most valid things to patent.

  19. Techman

    @fredwilson:disqus have you heard of the Dolphin Browser? It is at part with Chrome, especially if someone owns a 2.3 device, like me. It is EXACTLY like Chrome in terms of UI, and it also uses the WebKit engine. The best feature that stands out to me is that Dolphin has best in its class voice recognition. Nothing that I know of beats it. As I do further research and testing, expect a review to come onto my website.

  20. Barabare

    I know I’m in the minority, but I bought a Nexus 7, and returned it. It really just pales in comparison to the iPad in my opinion.For example, while this feature was nice, part of the reason that it’s necessary is the touch accuracy is much worse on the Nexus. Without this pop-up, it always selected the wrong link.I don’t know if that’s a touch accuracy issue, or more likely, a result of the much smaller screen size. But I found that I never needed this feature on the iPad, whereas when it wasn’t working on the Nexus, I went nuts.

    1. Techman

      You can’t calibrate the touch screen? I thought Android has a feature similar to that.

  21. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    It strikes me that most information can be classified for delivery on its’ most useful specific form factor.This explains why an A4 page, a newspaper, a steering wheel, a girlfriends waist, bicycle handlebars, and a standard plate and desktop monitors are all about the same size plus or minus 8 inches (depends on the girlfriend I guess).Objects around us are fitted to our body shapes, and information or images mobile or static are fitted to these. (A T-shirt print is the size of a T-shirt is the size of a chest or back)Why ? because we hold things at comfortable arms reach and have our natural focal length at about the same place. (Staring into each others eyes in a warm embrace :). For mobile phones to feel as good to hold *and look at* they would be bigger that 7″. The “goodness” about 7″ is not the size of the viewport – that is the only the outcome of a portability constraint (and the need to stick it against your face for its’ forgotten functionality “the conversation”).So for mobile devices the form factor is the compromise. If price and technology were disruptive enough to overcome portability you would use a newspaper display when sitting at the kitchen table, a paperback on a crowded train, and a widescreen when sharing with a friend.So while mass consumption mobile UI/UX’s may suit mobile – the good old fashioned workstation form-factor is still optimal for work.The key is good screen hardware configurations, not in the UI/UX design for limited screens, but to deliver an experience to suit a goal.So I think this is a pro-tem solution to a transitory problem. The “money” is probably still out there on some combination of projected, reconfigurable, flexible, shape-shifting screen technologies.