In a surprise announcement, Microsoft said its Edge web browser is now available for iPhones, with a release for Android "in the coming weeks."
The initial rollout for the browser will be limited to those in the U.S. but should expand to other markets over time. Currently, the browser is in preview only as Microsoft begins to build out features based on user feedback. The same goes for tablet support on both OSes, which should come later.
Edge for iOS, Android and 'Continue on PC'
Microsoft's main goal with the Edge browser for iPhone and Android users is to make sharing documents easier and help you pick up where you left off when using Windows 10.
Part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update feature set is the ability for consumers to pass a link to the "Continue on PC" share target. While that feature works, it is hard to find and not very intuitive.
The Edge browser for iOS and Android, however, makes Continue on PC a prime feature with a prominent share icon near the bottom of the browser. Users can just tap to continue the experience on their Windows 10 PCs, or save it for later.
Other features in the Windows 10 version of Edge are also present, including:
- Website favorites sync.
- Reading list sync.
- eBook and ePub support, including sync of purchased content from Windows Store. (Coming soon.)
- Password sync. (Coming soon.)
Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group, told us that there are no immediate plans for browser extensions, but like many future feature updates, future direction will be partially determined by user feedback and requests.
Other abilities, like signing into your Microsoft Account, InPrivate tab (private browsing), AirDrop, and the ability to set your default search engine to Bing, Google, or Yahoo, are already enabled.
Some of the features like password sync, eBooks, and support for tablets, will come later as Microsoft builds out the current Edge for iOS and Android applications.
Although initially only for the U.S. market, Microsoft expects to push Edge to other countries and languages as it expands the preview to get more feedback.
We've been using Edge for iOS for the last few days, and the browser behaves as expected. Those enrolled in the Windows Insider Program who are running the latest Insider build (Version 1709) can read our guide on how to link your phone to your PC.
Edge for iOS and Android – Slightly more than skin deep
Microsoft told Windows Central that these are not native browsers in the traditional sense. Edge for iOS is based on the WebKit layout engine, while the Edge browser for Android is based on Chromium. That rendering technology contrasts with the EdgeHTML engine that the Windows 10 browser leverages, so build strings and feature sets won't be aligned.
Apple simply does not allow third-party browsers based on non-WebKit engines in the Apple Store, and Android is built around Chromium, making it a more natural fit for that OS.
These Edge browsers are basically sophisticated skins with advanced feature sets that allow syncing with your Windows 10 PC for favorites, reading lists, reading view across your PC and phone, and more features that are familiar to Windows 10 consumers.
Due to Apple's restrictions, consumers won't be able to set Edge for iOS as the default browser. Such limitations, however, do not apply to Android.
Where to get Microsoft Edge for iOS and Android
Starting today, iPhone users can use Apple Test Flight to begin using Edge for iOS Preview. Those on Android can sign up to be one of the first to test the preview Edge for Android, which launches in the coming weeks.
To sign up for Edge on both iOS and Android just head to Microsoft's site here to get started.