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Microsoft Details Browser Improvements in Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft is adding new features to the Windows Phone 8.1 version of Internet Explorer 11, the company said in a blog post Thursday.

At the top of Microsoft's list of IE 11 improvements for Windows Phone 8.1 is a new address-bar URL predictions capability. The address bar, sometimes called "one box," remembers your favorite URLs and inserts a possible URL as you type. Microsoft used to pan that Google Chrome-like behavior as a privacy violation back when it was rolling out Internet Explorer 9, but now it's going to be a feature of IE 11 on Windows Phone 8.1.

For those who want browsing history privacy on their device, Microsoft is adding "InPrivate" browsing tabs to IE 11 on Windows Phone 8.1. And users are no longer limited to having just six tabs open. The IE 11 browser will permit unlimited tabs on Windows Phone 8.1.

Users can now synchronize tabs, browsing history, favorites and passwords from IE 11 on Windows Phone 8.1 to Internet Explorer on another Windows device, so that they can resume a session. This sync feature will be controllable by the Data Sense app, which tracks data use over cellular networks. Microsoft claims that the Data Sense app enables "40% more browsing with the same amount of data."

Microsoft is adding a new "high-savings mode" for the Data Sense app in Windows Phone 8.1 that compresses images and delivers "the most important" parts of a Web site to the screen. It also appears to strip out ads. The feature is designed for users with monthly service plans that limit data use.

Microsoft has added its "live tiles" pinning concept to IE 11 on Windows Phone 8.1. Users can pin Web sites to the screen and they will now display with updated content.

IE 11 on Windows 8.1 now has the capability to remember passwords, if the user wants that to happen. Users also have the capability to save files from the Web. The browser can now play videos in-line with YouTube comments. There's also a new "reading view" icon in the address bar that removes clutter from an article.

Users can now swipe the screen to go back and forward. There are also accessibility perks coming to the browser, including high-contrast, zoom and narrator capabilities.

Windows Phone 8.1 will not be rolled out for a few more months, with general availability expected around mid-2014. The precise timing of when users receive the system upgrade will depend on their individual phone carriers' schedules. Users can technically skip the wait and manually download Windows Phone 8.1 using the developer preview version Microsoft released in mid-April. The developer preview requires registration, however.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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