With its Edge browser now stable, Microsoft’s current focus for its Chromium-based browser is to build features that differentiate it from the competition.
With the holiday season coming up fast (though who knows what that will actually look like this year), it’s maybe no surprise that one of the first new features the company is announcing is a price comparison tool as part of its “Collections” bookmarking service. That was always an obvious next step, but it’s nice to see Microsoft add some more functionality here.
Also coming to Edge is the general availability of its integration between Collections and Pinterest, as well as a new screenshot tool for capturing web content, improved PDF support and an update to its Teleparty extension for streaming TV shows in sync with your friends and chat about it in your browser’s sidebar.
In addition, you can now also start free video meetings with your friends and family (or co-workers), right from the browsers, through an integration with Microsoft’s Meet Now service. You can have up to 50 people in these video chats, share screens and record these sessions. While this is rolling out in Edge first, it’s also coming to Outlook on the web and the Windows 10 taskbar in the next few weeks.
You can’t say Microsoft held back on new features with this release, but the highlight is surely the new price comparison engine.
“We’ve been talking about how Collections is a great feature for anyone who wants to do research — whether that’s research in education or work, but a lot of people do research for shopping,” said Divya Kumar, Microsoft’s director of Product Management for its browser and search tools. “We’ve really started to talk about this rhythm of, ‘okay, if you drop things into Collections, we should be really smart enough to give you the data that you’re looking for.’ This felt like a really natural next step for us to do.”
As long as Edge — through its connection with Microsoft Bing‘s existing price comparison engine — recognizes that you’re saving a product site, maybe from Amazon or Best Buy, it’ll show you the option to compare prices right in the browser tools bar. The next logical step now is for the team to add alerts when prices change, and Kumar tells me this is on the road map, together with several other features the team wasn’t ready to discuss yet.
Microsoft says it does not get affiliate fees when you buy through one of the links in Collections.
Talking about shopping, the team is also launching its Bing Rebates cashback program out of beta now (after shutting down a somewhat similar program a while back). The company signed up the likes of Walmart, Expedia, Walgreens and Nvidia for this program (though Nvidia only gives you a whopping 0.5% cashback). Still, it may just get some people to use Bing, though you have to sign up as a Microsoft Rewards member to participate.
“Rebates is a great part of the shopping story that we’re trying to land in terms of enabling smarter shopping experiences in the browser,” said Kumar.
In addition, through its Give with Bing program, you can now use your Microsoft Rewards points to donate to charitable organizations, and, until the end of the year, Microsoft will match your gift. This is live in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Germany and Spain.
As somebody who works on the web and takes screenshots all day, the updated screenshotting tool is also worth a look. Edge could already help you take screenshots, but until now, all you could do was copy what was on your screen. Now, you can also grab content from further down the page and then save it or share it directly from Edge.
If you’re an iOS user and have switched to Edge there — or thought about it — the news here is that you can now select Edge as your default browser there, a feature Apple finally enabled with the launch of iOS 14.