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​Edge in name only: Android and iOS Edge web browser

Microsoft's Edge on Android smartphones and Apple iPhones is merely a thin cover over native open-source web browsers.

So far as I know, no one's clamoring for Microsoft Edge on Android smartphones and Apple iPhones. Indeed, according to the federal government's Digital Analytics Program (DAP)'s most recent data, only 3.7 percent of all users use Edge. But, Microsoft is determined to make Windows 10 PCs work great with your phone as part of its Continue on PC program, and has brought new Edge apps to iOS and Android.

Of course, the real way for Microsoft to get Windows 10 PCs to work great with smartphones would be if there were Windows-based smartphones. Well, we all know what happened to Windows smartphones. Microsoft's repeated attempts to create smartphones ended in failure.

Now, Microsoft is claiming that smartphones are dead, it's just that people just haven't realized it yet. They'll be replaced by Hololens and augmented/virtual reality devices. I'm not holding my breath.

Be that as it may, Microsoft hopes the look and feel of Edge transferred to a smartphone interface will make Windows 10 users more comfortable. It won't help Windows 10 developers. For, you see, the look and feel is about all that's being transferred.

Under the surface of the new Edge iPhone lies the open-source WebKit. This is Apple's Safari default web engine. On iOS, Microsoft had no choice but to use WebKit. Apple insists all iPhone web browsers are built on top of it.

The Android Edge app, meanwhile. will use the Google's open-source Chromium Blink engine. Microsoft isn't trying to port its Microsoft EdgeHTML rendering engine to either platform.

WebKit is an open-source web-browser engine. Like all web browser engines, it renders content, HTML and image files, and web page formatting information such as CSS and XSL.

WebKit began life as an Apple fork of KDE's open-source KHTML and KDE JavaScript (KJS) engines in 2001. The project went open source in 2005 and subsequently became popular with other web browsers. Today, only Safari, and browsers based on Safari such as Edge for iPhone, use it.

On the Android side, Blink is a WebKit fork. Google uses Blink as the engine both for Chrome and its pure open-source Chromium web browser. Blink is also used by Opera and Amazon Silk browser.

Blink was designed to be faster, more secure, and easier to program than WebKit. Over time, Blink has proven stronger for web-applications, while WebKit has focused on rendering web pages better. The mobile Edge browsers will share in these strengths.

iOS users can test the Edge preview app by via Apple TestFlight. Android users can sign up to try out the Android version of the Edge preview app. Microsoft says this edition will come "soon".

Joe Belfiore, vice president of Windows Experience, said "there's no good system to unify PCs with these phones. These two (Edge for iOS and Android) apps will knit all this together for all our customers." I don't see any knitting here. I only see a coat of paint.

If you want a browser that's really knits different systems, Google Chrome remains your web browser of choice. Except for iOS, where it must use WebKit, it's the same code stack from top to bottom on all platforms.

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