New Windows 10 Mobile Preview Puts E-books on Edge Browser

Users can now read EPUB e-books on Windows Mobile's Edge browser and check out the new UWP app rendering tech.

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Windows Insiders who take the latest test build of Windows 10 Mobile for a spin can now view EPUB-formatted ebooks on their phones' Edge browser.

This week, Microsoft released Windows 10 build 14977 to the early access program, but exclusively for the mobile version of the operating system. In a Dec. 1 announcement, Dona Sarkar, head of the Windows Insider program, revealed that a "blocking bug" had forced Microsoft to hold off on issuing its counterpart for Windows PCs. The flaw can cause apps to fail, defeating the purpose of testing pre-release software.

On the other hand, Windows Phone owners can experience Edge's newfound native EPUB (electronic publication) ebook functionality, which the company previewed for PC users last month. EPUB is a popular ebook file format used by Open Library, Project Gutenberg and other public domain repositories. "When you open an unprotected ebook in Microsoft Edge, you will be taken into a customizable reading experience where you can change the font and text size and choose between 3 themes: light, sepia, and dark. As you read, you can leave bookmarks," wrote Sarkar.

"To navigate through an ebook, you can use the table of contents or seek bar at the bottom of the browser," she continued. Users can also search for phrases or ask Cortana to look up the meaning of specific words.

Build 14977 also includes a new rendering engine for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. Users are encouraged to report any visual glitches they counter. Microsoft also enabled OAuth support on Yahoo Mail accounts, improving security, sync performance and reliability.

Microsoft also revamped how the mobile OS handles alarms and notifications.

The company removed a top-level option that could be used to disable alarms on the lock screen after discovering that many users accidentally triggered the setting, preventing alarms to sound while the phone was locked. The option is now available on a per-app basis. Windows 10 Mobile also now allows third-party alarm apps to "break through Cortana's Quiet Hours" feature that filters notifications according to a user's preferences.

Several bugs have been resolved, including an issue that prevented the Start Settings page from showing up on an external monitor in Continuum mode. Unplugging and reconnecting headphones while watching a video no longer causes the audio to quit working. Microsoft also fixed a bug affecting certain music apps that caused them to quit playing after each song. Users can now enjoy uninterrupted playback of their playlists.

The update also is a sign that Microsoft hasn't given up on Windows phones despite its rapidly dwindling presence in the market.

According to Gartner, Windows accounted for a mere 0.4 percent of the smartphone OS market with sales of nearly 1.5 million handsets in the last quarter. By comparison, Android claimed 87.8 percent of the market with sales of over 327 million units, followed by Apple iOS with an 11.5-percent share of the market and 43 million iPhones sold.

During a Nov. 30 shareholder meeting, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told attendees that the company is focused on delivering devices like HP's X3 handset that offer customers the security, manageability and productivity features businesses expect. The company also is rumored to be working on a Surface Phone that may be able to run x86 apps courtesy of a new x86-on-ARM64 emulation technology.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...