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Microsoft Previewing Edge Browser Apps for iPhone and Android Smartphones

The Microsoft Edge browser is coming in preview form to iOS- and Android-based devices, according to an announcement today by Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president for Windows and Devices at Microsoft.

In addition, Microsoft is delivering a Microsoft Launcher for Android in preview form. It's a Windows Phone-like home screen derived from Microsoft's "Arrow Launcher" Garage project. Users of the Arrow Launcher beta will automatically get switched to the Microsoft Launcher, starting today. Other Android users can elect to try the preview today.

Edge Preview Availability
The new Edge browsers for iOS and Android are described as "apps" for those devices. Like the Microsoft Edge browser for the PC, the apps provide "familiar features like your Favorites, Reading List, New Tab Page and Reading View across your PC and phone," Belfiore explained.

The iOS Edge app preview is available today for iPhones. The Android Edge app preview will be coming "shortly via Android's Play Store Early Access," explained Sean Lyndersay, principal program manager lead for Microsoft Edge, in a blog post. With Google's "early access" approach, Android users can access beta releases directly through the Play Store, according to this description.

Belfiore indicated in a Twitter post that Android users will get notified of the Edge app's availability if they sign up for the preview.

Both previews are restricted to U.S. English language testers right now. In addition, the previews aren't available yet for iPads and Android tablets.

Apple iPhone users can get the Edge app via Apple's TestFlight beta testing program. Testing is limited to 10,000 users, though, per Apple's description. Belfiore noted that restriction, too, in a Twitter post, and he also mentioned a Windows Insider Program dependency:

"Edge iOS: right now we require users to be Windows Insiders with a recent RS3 [Redstone 3] build," Belfiore wrote. "We verify this by opening Edge (PC) and checking UA."

The dependency may seem odd, as the Windows Insider Program is for PCs, but both of the Edge apps have a "Continue on PC" capability that lets users "easily move content between your mobile device and your Windows 10 PC," according to this description. The Continue on PC capability will require PC users to have the Windows 10 "fall creators update" installed, which is scheduled for product release on Oct. 17.

Belfiore affirmed the Continue on PC feature's Windows 10 dependency in this Twitter post.

Reliance on Safari and Chrome Technologies
The new Edge apps use the core rendering technologies of Apple and Google's browsers, rather than Microsoft's EdgeHTML rendering technology, Lyndersay indicated. The Edge iOS app taps the WebKit rendering engine, while the Edge Android app uses the Blink rendering engine of the Google Chromium project.

The Edge apps will keep pace with Apple and Google browser release versions because Microsoft plans to ship its "own copy of the rendering engine in the apps," Lyndersay explained. Microsoft took that approach to "deliver the best possible securityaccessibilitybattery lifeinteractivity," plus "pure raw performance" on those platforms, he added.

Web site developers likely won't have to make changes to accommodate the new Edge apps, according to Lyndersay. The user agent string identifiers of the Edge apps match the respective identifiers of the Safari and Chrome browsers, but Microsoft is planning to issue new tokens for its apps "very soon," he indicated.

Microsoft expects to release the Edge apps for public download "later this year" after receiving test feedback from the previews.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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