One of the things we all kind of deal with when using a web browser is a total lack of elegant transitions. Most browsers and web pages lack anything in the way of transition animations, and those that do are one-off jobs coded in things like Ajax that can be complex. Otherwise, we're left with white flashes in-between page loads and seemingly random assemblage of elements as they render. Google wants to change that, and they want to do it with something called the Navigation Transitions API. Check out the embedded video below. (If the timecode doesn't work, it starts at 54:10 and ends at about 59:30).

Basically, the Chrome team is working on emulating the visual look and feel of animations in Android 5.0 Lollipop. Lollipop actually has an API specifically for moving between different activities, and unsurprisingly, it's called the Activity Transitions API. Navigation Transitions is basically that but for the web.

The idea is to make web applications feel more like native applications. This new API will expose a number of new animation tools for web pages to use, and the basic structure of the API consists of a meta tag, a link header, and the actual animations. The API will be fully backwards compatible (it will just fall back to no animations on legacy platforms), too, so it shouldn't break anything on older browsers, in theory.

It gets cooler: these transitions can even work in a way that they appear to blend in with the OS's own native applications. The demo video above shows a sample web page with a series of pictures. Those pictures use intents to open a native app on the Android device, but they don't just open it - they actually transition smoothly into the application and appear as elements in it. I'm not sure what exactly the use case here would be, necessarily, but it's a very cool demo nonetheless.

The Navigation Transitions API is still experimental and, according to Google, likely to change a lot over time, but it's a neat peek into the future of web browsing, regardless. You can see the search result demo - sans animations - at this URL, too.