Users who’ve been clamoring for new features in Microsoft’s Edge browser finally have reason to be excited: the company recently announced in a blog post that there are new extensions for Edge, which was one of the most-requested features from Windows Insiders. Designers and developers now have a chance to see if these extensions can elevate Edge to become part of their design workflow.
The rollout of these extensions is significant because it symbolizes the first steps Microsoft is taking to make its browser a real alternative to the dominant Google Chrome, and popular Mozilla Firefox.
The extensions announcement was part of a whole series of new updates for Edge, both on PCs and mobile. However, the extensions are meant as desktop-only. At the moment, designers can only fiddle around with three extensions: Mouse Gestures, Translator (automatically translates webpages in more than 50 different languages), and the Reddit Enhancement Suite.
Only Windows Insiders users have the chance to test these extensions right now, but Microsoft plans to roll them out to all Windows 10 users shortly. Insiders can download and sideload said extensions as part of the initial test; eventually, all users will get a crack at the extensions through the Windows Store. Later this year, users will get their hands on widely used extensions from company partners like Evernote, Last Pass, Amazon, Adblock Plus, Adblock, and many more.
The company’s philosophy around extensions is one of commitment. In another blog post from Drew DeBruyne, Microsoft Edge’s General Manager, he spells out how the company realizes that extensions are vital to designer and developer innovation, which leads to better and more interesting scenarios for users.
Besides Mouse Gestures, Translator and the Reddit Enhancement Suite, there are also other updates. You can now pin tabs in Edge. To pin a tab, just right-click on a specific tab and select “pin tab”. Selecting “unpin tab” after right-clicking on any given tab will reverse this. A design feature that makes tabbing more usable in Edge is the absence of a close button, so you won’t accidentally close tabs. For peace of mind, tabs that are open when you close the browser will automatically reappear when you start Edge the next time.
Finally, the Map app gets an update as well. This build offers a Windows 10 update with a lighter, more scalable and consistent user interface. Besides architectural improvements, there are also new features like:
- Accessing favorites offline and adding notes to them
- One-tap gestures for search and directions on mobile devices
- Layering of multiple search results and directions on the same map
Microsoft will continue to build up Edge to make it a viable competitor to Chrome and Firefox, so more design updates should follow.