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Data Sense is a vital Windows Phone 8.1 tool for many who like to keep track of how much data their phone consumes each month. Even more, the gizmo gives users the ability to restrict background data when roaming, set data limits, and see which apps grabs the most data.

Earlier this week, Microsoft released a companion app for Data Sense called IE Data Savings. The app taps into Data Sense but gives users a more detailed analysis of their Internet Explorer web usage. The app is free, and it should work all phones with the Windows Phone 8.1 OS installed.

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Are you eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa? The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is too, and you can team up with Microsoft to see exactly where Santa is. Previously available, 'NORAD Tracks Santa' received large amounts of traffic back in 2012 and the website is once again available for 2013. What's more is there are apps for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

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Microsoft launched a program for hackers and tech gurus to tune in and earn some big bucks by helping out the Internet Explorer team with hunting down security vulnerabilities. The reward was stated to be up to $11,000 per bug. Today, Katie Moussouris, Senior Security Strategist at Microsoft, has announced on TechNet that over $28,000 has been given away to community members who have worked with the company. 

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The highly missed 'Find on Page' feature which was present in Internet Explorer 8 on Windows Phone but subsequently removed in the Mango update, is making a return in Apollo if a demonstration from the Lumia 920 announcement is anything to go by. The ability to locate text loaded on the webpage was a useful tool that plays an important role in finding information on a cluttered website. 

Microsoft -for whatever reason- decided this feature had no place in the Windows Phone Mango update that included IE9 and removed it from the mobile browser. The company then received countless complaints from Windows Phone owners questioning why the feature was removed. We were eagerly awaiting Tango to see if the menu entry in IE would be restored, but alas it was never to be.

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James Hartig has published a blog article that outlines the reasoning behind the Grooveshark music streaming service not working on Windows Phone (via HTML5). It's all down to... hold your breath... a bug in Internet Explorer. Who would have thought, eh? According to Hartig, once he looked into the problem (after a number of Windows Phone owners complained that streaming could not be achieved) he came up with the following conclusion.

"It seems that the AJAX calls we were making to our API were failing when they were requested over HTTPS. The Microsoft team states that it is a bug with IE8 that you cannot do AJAX calls through XDomainRequest to HTTPS pages from HTTP pages. They never bothered to fix it for IE9. The simple solution would be to just load the site in HTTPS and make all calls in HTTPS, however that is not possible right now.

We only have 1 call to HTTPS on the site right now, but in the future, users will need to login and perform actions that require HTTPS, so this issue is quite the show-stopper."

So it seems we will not be seeing support for Grooveshark anytime soon, and with the issues they're having with apps on iOS and Android (pressure from record labels), we doubt we'll be seeing an official Windows Phone app anytime soon. We did have Music Shark for a while, but this app doesn't appear to be available.

Source: James Hartig, via: WPSauce

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Reasoning with changes in Mango IE9

The above chart certainly paints an interesting picture about usage within IE on Windows Phone. Back at MIX'11 when we managed to get a demonstration by Joe Marini of IE9, the excitement began of a chrome-less browsing experience. Moving onto later previews and in-depth looks at what's changed in the browser, many began to question the move to take away the status bar and hide the tabs and featured sites. One of the major complaints about the new IE on Windows Phone though is the missing "Find on Page" feature.

Amin Lakhani has published an insightful article over at the Windows Phone Developer blog, which runs us through the reasoning behind the changes that have been made. Looking back at the chart above, it's clear to see that the majority of users neglect the tabs and favourites features in favour of the address bar (myself being one). It's all about gaining as much screen as possible from chrome and using it for content display, to tie in with the whole concept of Metro, Microsoft has actually done this rather well.

Not everyone is going to agree with changes made as not everyone uses the web in the same way. A user may see IE9 on Windows Phone as a tool for light browsing, should he wish to have multiple tabs active at once he may favour a laptop, desktop or tablet. It's good to disagree with the approach taken, but without an alternative there's little anyone can do. One thing's for sure, it's depressing to see the team boast about having HTML5 with Youtube. Surely we should only rejoice when the monopolistic search engine giant agrees to allow Microsoft to pull down Youtube content via the app?

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog

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Okay, so we might or might not be getting an official app from Google anytime soon, but the day is not a complete waste as they finally enabled (fixed?) their mobile version of the site.

Up until recently, if you navigated to in IE on Windows Phone NoDo (or earlier), you would have been greeted with a message saying your browser was incompatible, which is pretty lame. On top of that, Google's site still only lists Windows Mobile for mobile site access (c'mon, guys, show some respect!). Now at least, you can use Google Plus via Mobile Internet Explorer with ease.

While not a full dedicated app, at least this gives you basic access. Of course, the point is a bit moot if you run "Mango" as IE9 acts like a desktop browser--so that was always working with the site. (Thanks, loof, for the heads up!)

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Look at that, we tracked down Microsoft's Joe Marini here at MIX11. He's in charge of IE on Windows Phone and as a result, has the latest build of IE9 running on his phone.

He gave us a few mins of demonstration and that browser sure looks nice (see it kick other browser's butts here). No word on Silverlight/Flash yet for IE9 and same with plugins/addons, but at this point we'll be quite satisifed with just this base for our browsing needs. We also dig the "Metro styled" menus now--looks much better.

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Wednesday at the Mobile World Congress, Microsoft held a developers day seminar that covered some old ground, but also lots of new stuff as well. One of the talks was presented by Microsoft's Joe Marini, Principal Program Manager, Windows Phone and it dealt with IE9 on Windows Phone.

IE9 was just introduced as an upcoming feature for Windows Phone, presumably in the 'Mango' update. While some of it was discussed during Ballmer's keynote, the nitty-gritty was given to Marini, who gave an excellent talk on all things IE9 and IE9 for Windows Phone.

The question about Adobe Flash was of course asked and so far, it doesn't sound like anything is close to being released:

So the questions is, are we going to support Flash in IE9 for Windows Phone

We are working with Adobe, but it has not yet been decided the last time I checked--part of that is Adobe is doing what they have to do and we're doing what we have to do. The last I checked the team is working with them but I don't think they have any announcement whether it's going to definitely work or not.

We also asked Marini about updating IE9 independently of the OS--something that was mentioned nearly a year ago, specifically does this feature exist/will Microsoft be using it? The good news is that the feature is still there:

One of the great things of Windows Phone 7 is we now have the ability to push out updates independently of the OS. We haven't announced what that schedule is going to be, but as we get closer to the release date they'll have more to say about that, but we're paying very close attention as to the best way to do that

Finally, the big stuff. After the break you can watch two excellent videos: (1) A seven-minute presentation on IE9 for Windows Phone 7 including all the standards, support and design implementation--a must for developers (2) A short demo of some HTML5 rendering on a live Windows Phone running IE9...

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While we took a look at Browser Plus a few weeks ago, the add-on to Mobile Internet Explorer that gave us tabbed browsing, a new contender has come forth to offer some similar and unique features.

Browse On goes for $0.99 in the Marketplace and it's biggest selling point would be the ability to open a new Tab in Landscape and type in the web address directly. That's because in normal Mobile IE and Browser Plus, the address bar is not available in Landscape, requiring you to switch orientation, type, then switch back. The second selling point is the full screen mode in Portrait. This feature auto-hides the address bar in the default orientation, give you more browsing space.

Overall, the look and speed of the app is great and while it lacks "incognito" and "reader" modes like Browser Plus, the full screen emphasis and better landscape browsing make it a worthy app. No trial mode is available.

Find it here (opens Zune desktop).

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As we get closer to the launch of Windows Phone 7, it’s inevitable that we are going to start learning more about Windows Phones and the Operating System behind them. Hardware details are becoming more plentiful, information about what we can expect from apps and the Marketplace are getting tossed around, and even carrier availability is becoming less of a mystery.

One area that I’m actually surprised that it hasn’t received more time under the microscope is Internet Explorer. There has been some traffic among the developer community as of late around the fact that Microsoft has neglected support for HTML5 in Windows Phone 7, but how much of a problem is this to Microsoft and to Windows Phone 7 in particular? Read on for my opinion.

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In what is sure to be a technical discussion on the pros//cons of using certain protocols, specifically -webkit-text-size-adjust, in the new IE Mobile Browser for Windows Phone 7, Microsoft's developers have done a retraction due to feedback from the community.

Basically, the issue resolved around how to handle text in in a page with an associated caption and there were ramifications for going with the -webkit- CSS property instead of just the -ms- prefixed one.

The team has now decided to not go with the -webkit- and instead only use the -ms- one. We suppose if you're a web page programmer this means something to you and we're hope you're pleased. We're just glad MS is listening to the developer community, who after all have to use these tools.

Now any of our savvy readers care to explain it in layman's terms?

[via IE for Windows Phone team Weblog]

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