Google just announced a small but important user experience change to its Accelerated Mobile Pages platform, or AMP. The company explained in a blog post today that it will start allowing users to copy or share an AMP article’s source link instead of the Google-specific URL. Until now, the service, which offers up more simplified and less data-intensive versions of publishers’ articles, had basically made this impossible.
“Many users have requested a way to access, copy, and share the canonical URL of a document,” writes Alex Fischer, a Google software engineer. The company is granting that request starting today on iOS (in both Chrome and the Google app) in the form of a small link icon at the top of each AMP article. Users just have to tap that icon to reveal the original URL, and from there they can either copy the link or tap it again to go straight to the source article. Android will support the new feature “in the coming weeks,” according to Fischer.
Fischer says that the change isn’t just about usability. “URLs and origins represent, to some extent, trust and ownership of content,” he writes. AMP (and Facebook’s Instant Articles platform) has always been a trade-off for publishers. AMP offers better usability — faster loading speeds, simpler design — and visibility (AMP results now dominate the Google News carousel). But those positives have come at a price, namely extra work on the publisher’s end and an increase in the likelihood that a reader won’t ever make it back to the publisher’s website. Today’s change tips that scale back.