In late January, Microsoft quietly revealed that it was working on a native version of its Edge web browser for iPad. That app is now available in beta form.
And by “quietly,” I mean that a Microsoft employee, responding to a tweet, revealed to an individual on Twitter that the the iPad version of Microsoft Edge was then in internal testing. Which, yes, is the absolutely worst way for Microsoft to communicate anything. And a huge pet peeve of mine.
Microsoft surprised us all last Fall when it announced far more formally that it was bringing Edge to Android and iOS. At the time of the announcement, only the iOS version was available in preview form, but the Android version followed quickly (and was more readily accessible to users since Google lets developers put pre-release apps right in the Play Store, unlike Apple).
In my early testing of Microsoft Edge for the iPhone, I found that the app worked as expected: It uses the underlying rendering engine of either mobile platform—Safari on iOS and Chrome on Android—and provided basic sync capabilities for those hardy few who use Edge on Windows 10.
Now, we have a preview version of the app to consider on iPad. If you’re familiar with how this worked before—how all iPhone apps work on iPad—you know that you can run these apps at 1x or 2x zoom, and that they don’t look or feel like a real iPad app.
Well, if you’re on the Microsoft Edge for iOS preview, meaning you’re using the TestFlight app to side-load this (and possibly other apps) onto your iPad, you can now experience an early peek at what a real iPad version of the app looks like. And it’s exactly what you’d expect: A normal full-screen iPad app.
Looking at it on my iPad Pro, I can’t get Microsoft Edge to respect or utilize the new multitasking features—-side-by-side apps, for example—in the latest iOS generation. (But that might be me; these interfaces are notoriously hard to use.) But it does provide the basics, for sure. In some ways—the Hub, for example, it resembles the Windows 10 version of the app, but it has some iOS-type interfaces (like Settings) too. Support for eBooks is coming soon, it says.
In the release notes for the app, Microsoft only lists three items:
- Support for the iPad experience
- Improved user sign in/out experience
- Performance improvements
So it looks like making this thing just work full-screen on the iPad might be the only real point, at least for iPad users. I’ll keep playing around with it to see if there’s more going on here.