Tip o' the Week #252 – Web browsing on WP8.1


clip_image001Many of us will be familiar with using the web browser on our phones – unkindly, one might say that it’s partly due to the fact that Windows Phone users sometimes don’t have a choice, whereas iOS and Android devices might be redirected to install some native app rather than using a browser to view the content.

The upgrade to Windows Phone 8.1 may have slipped by without you noticing every single aspect of it, one such being the fact that the mobile browser used in Windows Phone is IE11. Not, it is said, just IE for the phone that happens to be the same number as the desktop version, but a richly-featured modern browser which shares a lot of functionality with its big brother.

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clip_image003Reading View is one particularly neat usability feature, which changes the way the browser displays pages (and is indicated as available by the same book icon as the Metro modern IE browser on Windows 8.1). Tap the little book and the content on the mobile browser goes full–screen and can also be set to show a particular size of font or background colour too – check the Advanced Settings (found by tapping the ellipsis on the bottom right, then settings and then the advanced settings button at the bottom).

Phone IE11 also gives you more control over privacy settings, so you can turn on the equivalent of the desktop InPrivate settings (like choosing whether sites can track you, put stuff on your device, use cookies etc etc). There’s no “new InPrivate tab” function though, it’s a setting that applies to all browser sessions. See here for more details on privacy settings.

Windows Phone 8.1 also promises to make your life easier by synchronising IE data between your phone and your PC – remembering URLs you’ve visited, usernames you’ve used and more.

However you use it, the browser in Windows Phone 8.1 is now fast, safe, really functional and is a mostly a joy to use. So not being forced to install some ghastly local app for every site you want to visit, maybe isn’t such a hardship after all.

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