Microsoft’s has roped its Edge web browser into its mission to create cross-device experiences for users who routinely bounce between Windows 10 PCs and their smartphones.
Microsoft released a preview version of the browser for iOS on Oct. 5, with an Android version to follow soon. Don’t expect to simply visit the Apple App Store and download Edge, however. Interested users must belong to TestFlight, Apple’s beta-testing program used by iOS, watchOS and tvOS app developers to test their creations and gather feedback.
After that hurdle is cleared, iPhone owners will be able to resume their web-browsing sessions on their Windows 10 PCs with the tap of an icon.
“Microsoft Edge for iOS and Android brings familiar features like your Favorites, Reading List, New Tab Page and Reading View across your PC and phone, so, no matter the device, your browsing goes with you. But what makes Microsoft Edge really stand out is the ability to continue on your PC, which enables you to immediately open the page you’re looking at right on your PC—or save it to work on later,” said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows and Devices at Microsoft, in an Oct. 5 announcement.
As with any beta software, there are some limitations.
For now, Edge on iOS only supports one language (US-English), although Belfiore said more language and country pairs will be added as the preview gathers steam. Another feature users will have to wait for is roaming passwords, the ability to store website passwords and retrieve them between devices. Native iPad support is also in the works.
Although the Edge mobile apps share a name with their desktop counterparts, there are some major technical differences that web developers should be aware of.
“On iOS, we are using the WebKit engine, as provided by iOS in the WKWebView control. That means that from a compatibility perspective, Microsoft Edge for iOS should match the version of Safari that is currently available for iOS,” noted Sean Lyndersay, principal program manager lead at Microsoft Edge, in a blog post.
Likewise, Edge on Android will use the Chromium browser project’s Blink rendering engine, added Lyndersay. It’s an approach that affords Microsoft more control and better performance compared to the stock Android WebView control, he said.
Also on the Android front, the company announced a preview release of its customizable Microsoft Launcher app for Google’s mobile operating system. Based on the Arrow Launcher app from Microsoft Garage, an experimental app unit at the Redmond, Wash. software maker, the latest version of the app also features a Continue on PC feature that allows users to continue their work on Office documents and other files on a Windows PC.
Microsoft Launcher—the Arrow Launcher brand is being retired—also extends the company’s “Fluent Design” language to Android. The upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and subsequent versions of the operating system will feature a Fluent Design System containing new user interface elements that lend a refined and cohesive look to the operating system using transparency and other effects.