Microsoft’s Windows 10 default web browser Edge coming to Android and iOS devices
If you have a Windows 10 PC or tablet you may use as your web browser Microsoft’s Edge which is the built in browser that comes with the OS. But if you wanted to use Edge on your iPhone or Android phone you were out of luck as Edge was only available on Windows 10 devices. Or at least that was the case until yesterday when Microsoft announced that they are releasing beta versions of Edge broswer for iOS and Android phones.
Now when you use Edge on your Windows 10 on your PC the web site you visit are rendered using Microsoft’s own EgdeHTML engine but for reasons they have no disclosed Microsoft decided not to port their EdgeHTML when creating their versions of Edge for iOS and Android. Now this is understandable when it comes to iOS as Apple have very strict rules on allowing web browser apps into it’s app store in that they must use Apple’s own webkit rendering engine (as used by Safari) which essentially means that every browser on the iPhone and iPad all use the same underlying website rendering technology and just their own skin to how it looks to the end user, but this is not the case on Android.
Because of Android’s more open nature you can install browsers that use different rendering engines meaning that browser such as Chrome, Firefox and Opera all use their own website rendering engines and this gives each one some advantages over its competitors and allows the user to choose a browser based on which features they like. But strangely even though Microsoft could have ported EdgeHTML to Android they have decided to use the Blink rendering engine as used by Google’s Chrome browser. Perhaps this was down to time constraints as porting EdgeHTML would have taken longer than just reskinning Blink to the Edge UI or perhaps it was a performance issue and they did port EdgeHTML but found it was too slow or unstable and decided to go with the more established Blink.
So what do you get if you switch to Edge on iOS or Android?
The main feature that you get is the ability to sync the favourites, reading list and passwords from your Windows 10 computer to your phone. (Password syncing not available on iOS at this time) Unfortunately Microsoft are playing catch up somewhat with Chrome, Firefox and Opera all having versions available on multiple platforms for quite a while and these already have this feature built in and perhaps people who wanted this feature have already moved over to another browser to get it and may not move back to Edge.
Microsoft have also shown a replacement launcher for Android phones which allow your recent photos, documents and contact from your Windows 10 PC to be synced to your phone as well. At this stage the Edge browser is still in preview and only available in US English and only supports phones so users of iPads and Android tablets will have to wait to use it.
For the moment the iOS users will need to have a Windows Insider and an Apple TestFlight account. For users of Android phones to get the preview version of Edge they will require Windows Insider and Play Store Early Access. The rest of us will have to wait for Microsoft to release the full version.