Others have written about the significance for the web overall and its ongoing evolution with Microsoft abandoning a competitive platform and choosing instead to cooperate with Google. I’m going to focus on features.
The first thing that drew me back to Microsoft in general after I had fully embraced Google Classroom and all that goes with it, was Immersive Reader. I soon learned IR was not an anomaly, just the crown jewel of Microsoft’s overall commitment to accessibility and the desire to see all people achieve more. So it’s no surprise that’s where I’m starting with Edge. I was a little concerned when the first versions of the new Edge didn’t have as many features of Immersive reader as the old Edge had, but they’re all there now.
I’ve written about Immersive Reader before, but it is a little different in Edge. All web pages have the ability to read aloud. Click on the ellipses in the top right and Read Aloud, or just use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-U
Not all websites have Immersive Reader. I’m on the Bing homepage, and I don’t have the icon here.
That makes sense, though, since Immersive Reader’s name comes from the fact that it cleans up the page of distractions and shows just the text, free of images and ads and such. But a search page is nothing but distractions! They ARE the content.
Using Immersive Reader in Edge
But click on a link to go to an article and you will see the Immersive Reader icon in the address bar.
Click on it to open the Immersive Reader toolbar, which can then be pinned in place. This gives easy access to the Read Aloud with the ability to choose from over 25 voices. None translate, but in addition to the 8 native English-speaker voices, there are 16 voices that list other languages. These read the English with an accent, like German. I’m not sure what that’s really for, but it’s fun to listen to. In addition you have tabs for Text Preferences, Reading Preferences and Grammar tools, similar to what you see in Immersive Reader in other Microsoft Apps, but not as fully featured. Here are all three menus opened to see the rich assortment of reading accessibility tools available, all in a clean interface. The Edge version is unique in that it does preserve images in Immersive Reader view, and you can interact with the text by clicking on hyperlinks.
Extensions- Chrome AND Edge
Another feature that has improved since the earliest versions of the new Edge is Extensions. The number of extensions available specifically for Edge remains incredibly small, but now you can access both Edge extensions and Chrome extensions. Five or more years ago (before the Surfaces debuted), I remember wondering why Windows tablets didn’t get more attention. I figured they had all the advantages of a tablet plus all the programs for Windows. I didn’t realize at the time how drastically different the numbers of apps available for iPads, Androids, and Windows were. The new Edge has that figured out. Essentially, there’s nothing in Chrome I can’t add to Edge, but there’s a few extensions in Edge I can’t add to Chrome.
Multiple logins- do you want to switch?
This one may not seem major, but it really adds up to a lot of time saved in my days. I have multiple logins to both Chrome and Edge. Most days I am logged into the browser with several different accounts. My Task Bar often looks like this:
I can tell Windows to default to open links in a specific browser- Edge, Chrome, IE, Firefox, etc. But I can’t tell it which account to use by default. It opens links in the last one I was in. So if a colleague sends me a link to a document in my school district and I click to open it, and the last time I was in Chrome it was my personal Gmail linked account, I get a message that I don’t have access and prompting me to request access. I have to open the right browser connected to the right account, go back to the link and re-click to open.
But if I try to open something in Edge and I’m logged into the browser with the wrong account, I get this response:
When I click on Switch profiles, the correct browser with the correct login opens the file, or the Team, or whatever the first profile didn’t have access to.
More Profile Management
Similarly, when I am in the browser and right-click on a link, in addition to the choices I have in Chrome- Open in new tab, new window or incognito/Private window, Edge lets me choose to open the link with a different profile. So if I know I need to be logged in with a different profile to access this, or if I’m going to want to add it to a Collection in a different profile, Edge makes it easy.
Collections in Edge
The last feature of the new Edge that I love is the subject of my next article- Collections in Edge.
There are still specific use cases where I have to use Chrome. For example, as a teacher or student, Nearpod works perfectly in either Edge or Chrome. But when I am managing our district accounts and I’m trying to add someone to our district-level subscription, in Edge I get the perpetual spinning wheel. It does add them, but I can’t tell that, and it will spin forever if I don’t intervene. That doesn’t happen in Chrome. That’s the only such example I’ve experienced, but I’m sure in the myriad of sites out there, more exist. I’m equally sure there are similar cases where I would need to switch from Chrome to Edge to overcome such a glitch. Trouble shooting rules- always try close and reopen. If that doesn’t work, try a different browser. Then the real troubleshooting begins!
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