For Microsoft, browser updates are tied to OS updates, meaning the Windows 10 October 2018 update also brings a new version of the Edge engine, EdgeHTML 18, to the masses, with new features and enhancements.
What’s new in Microsoft Edge
The October 2018 refines the look, feel, and functionality of Microsoft Edge throughout the product, including a refreshed menu and settings interface, more customizability, and new ways to learn and stay focused.
Control whether media can play automatically
Unexpected videos and sounds can be alarming and annoying, especially when it’s hard to tell where they’re coming from. Starting with the October 2018 Update, you can now control whether sites can autoplay media, so you’re never surprised.
You can find Media Autoplay settings in the Advanced tab of Microsoft Edge’s Settings menu
You can get started in Settings under “Advanced” > “Media Autoplay,” where you’ll find three options: Allow, Limit, and Block.
- “Allow” is the default and will continue to play videos when a tab is first viewed in the foreground, at the site’s discretion.
- “Limit“ will restrict autoplay to only work when videos are muted, so you‘re never surprised by sound. Once you click anywhere on the page, autoplay is re-enabled, and will continue to be allowed within that domain in that tab.
- “Block” will prevent autoplay on all sites until you interact with the media content. Note that this may break some sites due to the strict enforcement – you may need to click multiple times for some video or audio to play correctly.
You can also enable or block autoplay on a case-by-case basis by clicking Show site information in the address bar (Lock icon or Information icon) and changing the Media autoplay settings.
Refreshed menus and settings interface
In this release, Microsoft made Settings easier to navigate, putting commonly used actions front and center, and providing more ways to customize the browser toolbar.
Bookmarks, history, downloads, and more live in the redesigned Hub menu in Microsoft Edge. Just select the “Favorites” () icon by the address bar and choose Reading List, Books, History, or Downloads to see what’s new.
In the “Settings and more” (Settings and more icon) menu, options are now organized into groups, with icons for each entry and keyboard shortcuts (where applicable) for a faster and more scannable experience.
Microsoft also added the much-requested ability to customize which icons appear in the Microsoft Edge toolbar – you can remove them all for a tidier look, or add as many as you like to bring your favorite functionality to your fingertips. Just select the “Show in toolbar” option in the “Settings and more” (Settings and more icon) menu to get started.
Stay focused with improvements to reading mode and learning tools
Microsoft made a number improvements to reading modes and learning tools in Microsoft Edge to help you stay focused and get things done.
Now, when you’re browsing a web page in reading view, you can narrow the focus of the content by highlighting a few lines at a time to help tune out distractions. Just click or tap anywhere on the page, select Learning Tools (Learning tools icon) > Reading Preferences (Reading Preferences icon) and turn on Line focus.
Line Focus allows you to dim the areas of the page you’re not focused on, to help minimize distractions.
As you read, you can now look up definitions for key words in Reading View, Books, and PDFs, using the new dictionary function. Simply select any single word to see the definition appear above your selection, even when you’re offline.
You can adjust which documents and sites the dictionary works in by going to the General tab in Settings and selection options under “Show definitions inline for…”
Other improvements include design refinements, improved PDF handling, a more powerful download manager, and more.
Microsoft Edge now includes unprefixed support for the new Web Authentication API (aka WebAuthN). Web Authentication provides an open, scalable, and interoperable solution to simplify authentication, enabling better and more secure user experiences by replacing passwords with stronger hardware-bound credentials. The implementation in Microsoft Edge allows the use of Windows Hello enabling users to sign in with their face, fingerprint, or PIN, in addition to external authenticators like FIDO2 Security Keys or FIDO U2F Security Keys, to securely authenticate to websites.
Service Worker updates
Microsoft made several updates to Service Worker support in EdgeHTML 18. The fetchEvent enables the Service Worker to use preloadResponse to promise a response, and the resultingClientId to return the ID of the Client that the current service worker is controlling. The NavigationPreloadManager interface provides methods for managing the preloading of resources, allowing you to make a request in parallel while a service worker is booting-up, avoiding any time delay.
CSS masking, background blend, and overscroll
EdgeHTML 18 improves support for CSS Masking. This implementation further supports the CSS mask-image property with improved WebKit support, including webkitMask, webkitMaskComposite, webkitMaskImage, webkitMaskPosition, webkitMaskPositionX, webkitMaskPositionY, webkitMaskRepeat, webkitMaskSize, as well as more complete standards support, adding maskComposite, maskPosition, maskPositionX, mskPositionY, and maskRepeat.
CSS improvements can also be found in how Microsoft Edge handles what happens when the boundary of a scrolling area is reached, now supporting overscroll-behavior, including overscroll-behavior-x, overscroll-behavior-y, and overflow-wrap.
The latest update to Microsoft Edge DevTools adds a number of conveniences both to the UI and under the hood, including new dedicated panels for Service Workers and Storage, source file search tools in the Debugger, and new Edge DevTools Protocol domains for style/layout debugging and console APIs.
Web Notification properties
Four new properties are now supported for web notifications: actions, badge, image, and maxActions, improving our ability to create notifications on the web that are compatible with existing notification systems, while remaining platform-independent.
Microsoft also added support for WebP images, improving interoperability with sites that serve them across the web.
Progressive Web Apps
The October 2018 Update is now available for Windows 10 customers as an automatic update, rolling out to devices based on real-time feedback and telemetry and a machine-learning driven targeting model.
Read more at Microsoft here.