In Part 2 of the series, we look at the next new feature of Edge: reading view. Reading view is an option that appears in the URL bar of Edge, to the left of the Favourites star icon. Clicking this button while viewing a page will strip the page of what Edge sees as distracting content, displaying only the main article. This feature also adds its own styling to the page, with a number of default styling options available through the settings menu of Edge.
By default the styling resembles the page of a book. Settings for the feature allow users to switch between 4 presets for background colour – ranging from an off-white that resembles aged paper – to shades of grey and black for the dark option. The font colour is styled appropriately to contrast the background colour, providing a reading experience that is easy on the eyes. The font size options range from small, which seemed to match the original font size of the articles we tested, to extra large which is aptly named.
The system isn’t perfect however. Testing the feature on a question and answer styled page rendered only the original question in the reading view, with no option to see the replies. Obviously the system is aimed at being used on news styled sites where the article makes up the main content of the page. In cases like this, the reading view will strip away all navigation options and present only the main article itself; displaying image content that is relevant to the article. Clearly this system relies on specific page structure and styling in line with modern web practices. For many older sites with content that hasn’t been marked up with modern standards though, the feature will struggle to interpret the readable content correctly.
Its use on news article based websites provides a great interim solution to the lack of AdBlock support in Edge. We tested the feature on a tech website’s news article, and the pop-ups and ads were removed entirely leaving us with a greatly improved viewing experience. It will be interesting to see how this feature evolves as Edge matures.
The next newly added feature is Web Notes. This feature allows users to add hand drawn annotations and typed notes to a web page which can then be saved and shared with other Edge users. Within the web design realm, this provides a very promising method of feedback between clients and developers, allowing them to provide feedback overlaid on either a live site or a work in progress. Being able to highlight and add notes directly to a website allows for a greater sense of visual feedback and would provide a supplementary method of client/developer communication. Of course, this would rely on both parties using Edge which isn’t a likely scenario at this stage.
Finally, Edge from our developer’s perspective. Internet Explorer has long been the bane of developers adopting the cutting edge web development standards, due to older versions simply not supporting particular features or requiring awkward work-arounds to make current standards comply with the unwieldy browser. Edge however uses an entirely new rendering engine, named EdgeHTML. Reportedly, this new engine focuses on staying up to date with current web standards and brings the performance of Edge inline with, if not exceeding that of Firefox and Chrome. With Windows 10 being offered as a free upgrade for existing users of Windows 7 and 8, hopefully more users will make the jump from older versions of Internet Explorer to Edge.
Overall Edge seems to offer some very interesting new features. While these features will not appeal to all users, the simple user interface and the inclusion of the reading view will potentially make web browsing even more accessible for less tech savvy users.