Android is a Google operating system, which means it comes pre-loaded with Google’s Chrome web browser. Chrome is a great and fully featured browser with enormous market share, but it isn’t the only show in town. Here we take it head to head with Microsoft’s web browser, Edge.
Chrome is a minimalist browser that works very well on the Gemini’s landscape screen. The toolbar at the top of the screen disappears as you scroll down a web page, giving you a full screen of viewable page, and the controls are simple and easy to understand, indeed there are only three basic controls in Chrome.
The first of these is the address bar, which fills almost the whole width of the Gemini screen, so you can’t possibly miss it. To the right of the address bar sits the tabs button. This very helpfully displays the number of tabs you have open, as the more tabs open at any one time, the more memory is consumed on the Gemini and, potentially, the faster your battery will drain.
The menu icon sits at the far right of the toolbar, and it’s here that you’ll find all the main controls you’d expect to find in a browser. These include adding and managing your favourites, managing downloads, refreshing the current page, and viewing your browser history.
It’s all pretty standard stuff then, so where does Chrome stand out? Well it doesn’t stand out when it comes to having a back button. Chrome is primarily designed for Android smartphones and tablets, which all have hardware (or sticky, software) back buttons. The natural way on the Gemini to go back in an app is to press the Esc key on the keyboard, but this doesn’t work in Chrome. The upshot is that you have to use the back button in the dock on the far right of the screen, which has annoyed a lot of Gemini users.
Microsoft’s Edge browser gets off to a great start with discoverability. Not only is the address bar a more reasonable size, it makes plenty of space for additional controls that can be accessed with a single tap, instead of two. Back (yes, a back button) and Forward buttons sit prominently in the top left corner of the screen, along with refresh, continue on PC, tabs, favourites and additional options. Like Chrome, the toolbar is also hidden when you scroll down a page, giving you more reading area, and appearing again with a simple scroll upwards.
There’s no counter to show you how many tabs are open, unlike Chrome, but extra functionality does greatly add to the Edge browser. Continue on PC is a high point, allowing you to send the website you’re working on to your PC or laptop when you need to. In addition to Favourites (Bookmarks in Chrome), Edge also offers a handy Reading List where you can park commonly needed sites. Lastly there’s a very helpful View desktop site option available on two clicks, something Chrome doesn’t offer.
When you consider that Edge uses the exact same rendering engine as Chrome, there’s very little in it performance wise. With features, and feature usability Edge also edges it (sic!) but while the Esc key doesn’t work in Edge any more than in Chrome, it’s the simple inclusion of a back button, placed in a sensible location that gives Edge the advantage as the best web browser for the Gemini PDA.