Microsoft Edge is getting flashy new Copilot features and Designer app for photo editing - but is that enough to beat Chrome?

 Microsoft Edge.
Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft is enhancing its proprietary web browser, Microsoft Edge, with all kinds of artificial intelligence, user experience, and integrated app upgrades. The first of these is a new “Magnify image” feature that will allow users to more easily zoom into images. There are also upgrades to Edge Copilot, the browser version of Microsoft’s new flagship digital AI assistant, currently in the testing stage.

The “Magnify image” feature comes with a recent Edge stable version update (the version released to all users after Microsoft felt it was ready for a wide rollout). The way most users have to look at a larger version of an image presently is to right-click the image and click on “Open image in new tab.” This prompts the browser to open a full-resolution version of the image in a new tab.

According to Windows Latest, to use the new magnification feature, users will need to ensure they have the latest update for Edge. Then, they should be able to right-click on any image and choose “Magnify image” from the menu that opens up. This will prompt the image to open in Magnify mode, which should appear as a sub-window that opens within the confines of the tab, no longer requiring a new tab to see the image and its details.

You can also open a preview mode to explore the image by left-clicking the image, which gives users three new controls in the bottom-left corner of the preview. These new options allow users to zoom in, zoom out, and reset the view of the image within the preview sub-window.

Woman sitting at desk with laptop, holding a phone and looking at it
Woman sitting at desk with laptop, holding a phone and looking at it

Copilot is getting a Notebook-sized character boost

Another major change that’s being reported is currently still in preview and testing, but it sounds pretty exciting nonetheless - and it concerns the Edge version of Copilot.

You can already access Copilot by clicking on the Copilot icon in Edge’s sidebar to chat with the bot right in the Edge window. One current major drawback to Edge Copilot is that there’s a character limit for user entries, but that looks like it might change thanks to an upcoming ‘Notebook’ option. Windows Latest reports that this feature will expand the character limit for prompts to 18,000 characters, allowing users to enter very long prompts.

This is a somewhat unsurprising upgrade for the feature, as it already exists in the main version of Copilot. Microsoft is apparently testing placing this feature into the context menu in Edge’s Copilot.

Users will have to change their browser’s startup settings to make the Notebook option available and right now, it’s only available via the experimental Canary build of Edge, which must be downloaded and installed first. Once the Edge Canary version is installed and the Notebook option for Copilot is enabled, you can enter longer, more detailed prompts into Copilot - though you’ll need to sign up for the Windows Insider Program to access the Canary channel.

Person working on laptop in kitchen
Person working on laptop in kitchen

Say hello to the Designer app in Edge

The Edge Canary version also brings greater Designer app integration to Edge. The current public Edge version allows users to open images in Edit mode, which resembles the Windows 11 Photos app’s editing mode, and gives users some basic picture editing actions, along with the option to save the image and the option to copy it to their Clipboard.

Windows Latest reports that these features are being moved to the Microsoft Designer web app, which is already accessible in the Edge Canary version. In this version of Edge, users will be able to click on Edit and this will prompt Designer to open a sub-window all within the scope of the same tab. The app will enable users to use the newer and more sophisticated AI tools that Microsoft offers for photo editing, such as Blur, Background Remover, as well as simple editing actions - all without opening a new tab. Like the Notepad feature, users will have to install the Edge Canary build and enable the Designer app.

Windows Latest does outline that the Designer app takes longer to load images, but otherwise, the AI tools are the other biggest difference between the Designer app and the Edit mode of the present Edge version.

These are exciting developments that I think - or at least, I hope - could encourage people to try out Microsoft’s new AI tools and features, and might even convince users to make Edge their browser of choice. The two Edge Canary features are still being tested and are subject to change, but the Magnify feature should be available to all users who have updated their Edge browser - and we’ll probably see finalized versions of the other features very soon.

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