What you need to know
- Microsoft highlighted several new features for its Edge browser at Build 2022.
- WebView2 will soon be available for WinUI 2/UWP apps, bringing better performance.
- Windows 11 will soon show notifications from Progressive Web Apps with a clear indication of which PWA they're from.
- Edge Dev Tools recently gained a simplified user interface and customizable Activity Bar.
Microsoft discussed quite a few new features for its Edge browser at Build 2022. The improvements to Edge will result in a better experience for Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and enhance WebUI 2/UWP apps. The browser's DevTools received a refresh recently, which should make it easier to use.
Some of these features were already available for Edge, but Build 2022 served as a convenient way to highlight them all in one place.
WevView 2 for WebUI 2/UWP
This isn't an update to Edge itself. Rather, Microsoft announced that WinUI 2/UWP applications will be able to take advantage of the Chromium-based Edge's WebView2. Sometime over the next few months, developers will be able to have hybrid applications utilize WebView2.
When an app uses WebView 2, content is rendered with the new Microsoft Edge rather than the older EdgeHTML. Microsoft explained in a recent blog post that "WebView2 can improve performance dramatically."
In testing by Cerner Corporation (via Microsoft), WebView2 reduced render times by 85%. CPU utilization was reduced by 33% and memory utilization went down 32% in the trials as well. Notably, those tests were compared to solutions running Internet Explorer.
Progressive Web Apps keep progressing
PWAs powered by Microsoft Edge have a few new tricks as well. A new default API for protocol handling will make notifications appear to be from their respective Progressive Web Apps rather than Edge.
Microsoft will also place PWAs in the Microsoft Store alongside native applications. There's an overhauled Apps page in Edge and a new Apps Hub experience in the browser as well.
PWABuilder and Microsoft partnered to help developers create and publish PWAs to the Microsoft Store. PWABuilder also added support for shipping PWAs to virtual and Mixed Reality Devices, including Microsoft HoloLens and Meta Quest (formerly known as Oculus Quest). Microsoft broke down these changes in more depth in its post about the Microsoft Store at Build 2022.
Users told Microsoft that DevTools was too complex and overwhelming. The company responded by simplifying the interface for DevTools in Edge. The new UI has a compact and customizable Activity Bar that can include any of the 30+ tools available.
People can try out the new interface by using "Focus Mode" in DevTools. A blog post from Microsoft (opens in new tab) outlines how to enable the feature.
Be sure to check out all the news coming out of this year's developer conference on our Build 2022 page!
Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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