Microsoft Edge for iOS and Android could be a viable alternative for Chrome
Microsoft’s Edge browser for Android and iOS has been upgraded from the preview version, which was released in October 2017 for a limited number of users, and is now available for everyone to download. The new web browser is free to download and available for both Android and iOS users.
On an Android smartphone, the new app takes up 167MB of space, which is as much as what the Chrome browser takes up post installation. So the new browser is not lighter than its immediate rival in terms of the space it takes up. One reason for it can be that it runs on the same Chromium engine that powers the Chrome browser, at least on Android phones. On iOS, Edge browser is based on WebKit engine, which powers the Safari browser on iPhones.
Microsoft has added a couple of new features that were not available in the preview version. It includes Roaming passwords, which syncs a new password saved for a site on the Edge browser on the smartphone to the PC browser. Users now have the option to switch to a dark theme when they are browsing in the dark for a less stressful browsing experience.
In terms of design, the home page of the Edge shows the Microsoft logo followed by search bar with voice command and a barcode/QR code scanner at the top. App suggestions with icons of apps, which Microsoft feels users need, shows in the middle. Then comes the News feed, which shows a whole bunch of latest news updates if it’s swipes upwards. The fundamental layout is similar to Chrome. The news feed looks more elaborate with two columns and bigger pictures, unlike Chrome which shows all news feed in a single column with small images. The barcode/QR code scanner is another feature unique to Edge browser.
The last element on the home page is the tab button, which shows the icon for Continue on PC feature and the multiple tabs. The former allows users to wirelessly send a webpage and photo from the smartphones to a Windows 10 PC running the latest Fall Creators update. This allows users to switch to a bigger screen anytime they want while browsing a web page or looking at a photo on the smartphone.
To access this feature, users need to be logged into the same Microsoft account on the PC and the Edge browser on the smartphone. The multi-tasking icon shows all your tabs side by side on a single window. Tabs opened in the InPrivate mode, which is the equivalent of the Incognito mode in Chrome, also show here. To start a new tab, users have to tap on the blue coloured “+” icon on that window. In Chrome browser, recent tabs show as full page cards similar to the multi-tasking page on new Android smartphones with stock UI.
Some elements of Microsoft Hub, seen in the PC version of Edge, can be seen here too. There is a reading list which is like the favourites page in Chrome and shows everything from saved articles to PDFs. The unique element is the Books section, which allows users to save and read ebooks purchased from the Microsoft store on the browser.
The download option where you can find all the files downloaded from the web is available in most browsers. The Edge browser misses out on some key features such as the data saver mode, which is available in Chrome.
Overall, the Edge browser for Mobile doesn’t feel faster or easier to use. However, it offers some unique features that you won’t find even on the Chrome browser.