html5

When it comes to video playback on Windows Phone, especially YouTube, things can get a little complicated. We won’t rehash the whole Google-Microsoft tiff over an official app again, but what we can share with you is some details about how Microsoft worked really hard on Windows Phone 8.1’s HTML5 video capability.

We recently spoke with a Microsoft Program Manager who worked on the IE 11 HTML5 audio/video features, including all the details of the modifications. They’re quite significant, and we’re confident that once you learn about them, you’ll be even more excited to pick up the 8.1 bits in the coming weeks.

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Fancy some more apps to spice up your Windows Phone experience? Web applications may be the way forward as a temporary solution to some missing names on the store. But finding such apps can prove tricky, especially if you're new to the game. There's also the fact that locating and "installing" web apps can be rather time consuming. Cue WebApps for Windows Phone.

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Internet Explorer 10 is good but is it the best?

Although Windows Phone 8 is still a few months away from release, it doesn’t mean we can’t start to gather information about it or one of its main new features: Internet Explorer 10.

The new browser was revealed back at the Summit in June and it will match the desktop component found in Windows 8 Desktop, due in late October. Featuring a new JavaScript engine, better performance, twice the HTLM5 compatibility, advanced privacy features and optional data-compression, the browser should really be a step up for consumers.

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Okay, we'll be the first to admit that a simple, single browser test does not make or break a device. We'll also admit that the Android-based HTC One X (review) is an interesting little number with some very impressive hardware (quad-core dual 1.5Ghz CPU, with a dual-core Qualcomm Krait processor plus a 720x1280 screen. Holla!).

Still, all that fancy hardware doesn't do much if your OS is dragging it all down. Even with the latest Android OS, 4.0.3 aka Ice Cream sandwich, the HTC One X still lags behind the single-core 1.4GHz Nokia Lumia 900 when it comes to the HTML5 Speed Reading test: http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/mobile/performance/speedreading/default.html

One of our AT&T ninjas has their hands on a One X and he decided to see how it performed. Results (combined with our Windows Phone ones):

  • HTC One X - 24 FPS, average draw 41ms
  • Nokia Lumia 900 - 45 FPS, average draw 22ms
  • HTC Titan II - 60 FPS, average draw 13ms

And if we throw the 1.5GHz HTC Titan II into the mix you can see it trounces the Lumia 900. Like we said earlier, there's more to device performance than just a single HTML5 browser test, so yeah, call this unfair/biased/silly, it's cool, we can take it. But we think it is an interesting result nonetheless, as you wouldn't expect such a high-end device to be so mediocre with all that firepower on board.

It also raises this interesting thought experiment: What if the One X ran Windows Phone 7 instead? Of course the joke's on us since we can't support dual core, let alone quad, so we'll never know. But we think it's safe to say, it'd be very fast.

Related: See the One X get "smoked" by Windows Phone.

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A few weeks ago, Grooveshark.com announced an HTML5 version of their music-streaming site which made many of us excited--after all, IE9 on Windows Phone is all about HTML5. But alas, the first to complain that their browsers wouldn't play anything were Windows Phone users despite attention paid by the web developer for Grooveshark, James Hartig. In fact, he detailed his experience in a blog post laying blame on Microsoft: "Windows Phone Plagued by IE9's Flawed AJAX".

That didn't stop Microsoft's Ben Riga, Technical Evangelist on the Windows Phone team and Eric Lawrence, Program Manager on Internet Explorer, from trying to help out. And in a new blog post, the Grooveshark dev has now been able to figure out how to properly get Grooveshark running on HTLM5 for IE9.

We just loaded up the site (html5.grooveshark.com) and not only does it load quickly and look beautiful, but gosh darn it actually plays music (even under the lock-screen). In other words, all is good and while we'd still prefer a dedicated Grooveshark client, we'll take this mobile HTML5 site for now, thank you very much.

Kudos to Ben, Eric and James for working this out.

Source: Dev Jar; via @benriga

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Looks like those cats at YouTube are doing some background changes to their player. Although the "player" aka browser app for Windows Phone is still at a paltry v1.0, the actual streaming handled via HTML5 seems to be now more robust.

Take a gander at our screenshot above and you can now see the "HQ" option now shows up. As a result, the quality has dramatically improved to the point that we could actually, you know, use it. Sure, it's no YouTube Pro but for the occasional use, we're happier with this level of playback than the previous version. Anyone else noticing the changes?

Thanks, parthp90, for the tip

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SkyDrive, the Windows Live file hosting/sharing service, is set to receive a fairly major upgrade today, which will introduce a number of requested features. It's now much easier to manage office documents and other files on an account thanks to the ability to set permissions or share individual files within a folder. Not only that, but the team have now made it possible for files to be shared to social networks and for private links to be generated that can be shared with select personnel.

Multiple selections can be made to move, download or delete more than one folder. Folders can be created (and renamed) inline without having to click in multiple locations. Uploading to SkyDrive has also been improved by taking advantage of the HTML5 File API and now users can simply drag files and photos into the web browser window and onto the file listing. A upload overlay will then be display at the bottom right hand corner of the screen allowing the user to continue using the service.

 

As well as the above, support has been added for PDF and RAW file types, the photo slide show has been improved, and signing into SkyDrive is now more efficient (up to 50% faster). Check out more information on the SkyDrive blog (link below) with more screenshots. Unfortunately, still no more word on a Windows Phone app or more integration with the OS.

Source: Windows Live Blog

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One "killer app" missing for many on Windows Phone, despite some solid alternatives, is Pandora internet radio. We still see no reason that Pandora won't release an official app now that Mango is around the corner and supports background play--so we won't be surprised if something shows up soon.

However, in the meantime for you die-hard folks out there who are already on Mango (estimate via "I'm a WP7" is nearly 20% of Windows Phone users): you can now browse to Pandora.com via IE9 and stream that way. See, the whole website was redesigned and relaunched today and HTML5 is their new standard. Our browser supports HTML5 and background audio play, so match made in heaven. New Pandora site includes:

  • New Look and Feel: A new centralized content area accentuates each ad execution by increasing the space and immersing the user via an integrated skin for campaigns. Additionally, the modern page design scales to provide more creative possibilities for advertisers with additional ad formats.
  • Additional Screen Real Estate: Ads are seamlessly integrated across the entire site while listeners explore music and artist content and engage in robust social experiences, such as interacting with self and friend profiles and feeds.
  • Simplified Cross Platform Execution: Smooth platform parity between web and mobile, making it easier to execute cross-platform audio and visual ad campaigns.
  • Bigger Videos: Video ads have been upgraded to a larger, full-screen video overlay, prominently showcasing advertisers' videos.
  • Enhanced Social Features: New opportunities for advertisers to connect with listeners as they share and engage with others in the Pandora community and their social networks.

As we said, match made in heaven, right? Well, not quite. While it certainly does work, it's still a bit slow--you'll have that "delay" between pressing a button and the response, which can last a few seconds (leaving you unsure if the button press even registered). We also had some issues with our volume being very low (had to jack it up to 30 and even then was barely audible). Still, that could be hiccups on our end, our device, the network or just some early kinks--others seem to be having more success. The important note here is, technically speaking, you can stream Pandora via IE9 as advertised.

Source: PRNewsWire; Thanks, @burnethanol, Lerimer S. and Damian M., for the heads up!

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This is something that will be of interest to the developer side of our readers. There's now a beta version of PhoneGap available that supports Windows Phone Mango. What is PhoneGap you ask? It's a mobile framework that enables developers to build and launch cross-platform apps easily through standard web technologies including HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

The Windows Phone team have been in touch with the creators of this framework (André Charland and Brian Leroux - Nitobi) to help speed up development with engineering resources and aid. There's a growing interest in WP Mango within the PhoneGap community, which can only mean positive outcomes for the platform with higher quality apps through easier deployment for developers who are more comfortable with web technologies.

The beta of PhoneGap includes majority of the basic functions, and includes JavaScript APIs to use Mango features, such as:

  • Access Device Information (UDDI and stuff)
  • Add and search Contacts
  • Connection status (network / wifi connection status)
  • Alerts/Notification (alert and confirm)
  • Media Capture (Image and Audio)
  • Camera
  • Accelerometer
  • Geolocation

If you're interested in testing the beta and leaving much desired feedback, head on over to the PhoneGap Github project page. What's also interesting about this announcement is that Windows 8 will be utilising HTML etc. so it would be exciting to see support for Windows Phone apps on the desktop.

Source: Nitobi, via: Windows Phone Developer Blog

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While Microsoft's YouTube app leaves much to be desired (granted, it's not their fault), it seems light is at the end of the tunnel for fans of the video sharing website with HTML5. As IE9 in Mango will be making short work of HTML5 we were hoping that Google would make the mobile version of their media community portal open to Windows Phone Mango.

Alas, it seems as though we've conquered video playback via IE9 in Mango, thanks to Google. This is a massive improvement over what was available to WP7 users. A sleeker interface is present with playlist access, commenting and more. It's still not a full-featured app with account management and more, but hey it's something. Don't forget Lazyworm.

Source: Plaffo (Bing Translate)

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One thing is clear: Adobe Flash has fallen out of favor with many on the web, especially in the mobile arena where Apple took a hardline stance and surprisingly, so did Microsoft (yeah, don't expect Flash anytime soon).

Adobe though is evidently moving on and have proposed 'Edge', an HTML5 based web based tool that will supposedly deliver "Flash like" animation on the web. So far, the focus for these tools have been for the iPhone but not too surprisingly, Windows Phone is on their radar too--after all, IE9 is a fully functional HTML5 browser, so why not?

"Adobe® Edge is a new web motion and interaction design tool that allows designers to bring animated content to websites, using web standards like HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3.

Edge will be updated regularly to add new functionality, stay ahead of evolving web standards, and incorporate user feedback to provide the best functionality and experience possible. This is an early look at Edge with more capabilities to come."

In a recent tweet, Adobe confirmed that they will be testing on and demonstrating Edge on Windows Phone as well. That's good news for our side as embracing HTML5 looks to be a good pay off for standards, animation and now even Adobe transitioning over, we can expect the web to become even more rich, but with mobile in mind. (Thanks, Domenico A, for the tip!)

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Why you should care about IE9 on WP7

At Mobile Word Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft VP Joe Belfiore gave a demonstration of some of the new features coming to Windows Phone 7 in an update to come later this year. The touted features include multitasking, which is for some the Holy Grail of mobile platforms. Somewhat overshadowed by the multitasking features was the demonstration of Internet Explorer 9 for Windows Phone, which is to include many of the features of its desktop counterpart.

The real issue for some WPCentral readers is why they should care about Internet Explorer on Windows Phone? IE has long been the whipping boy among browsers, at least from a PC enthusiast’s standpoint. Lambasted for its lack of security and standards support, Internet Explorer has been losing market share to Google Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox.

Follow the break to learn why Internet Explorer 9 is the single biggest feature coming to Windows Phone 7 in 2011, at least in this writers estimation.

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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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Microsoft watchdog Mary Jo Foley is reporting that Microsoft is prepping a major update to Windows Phone 7 for the fall timeframe. Codenamed Mango, the fall update is rumored to add Silverlight run-time and HTML 5 support as well as additional languages. Foley speculates that Microsoft may ramp up the enterprise functionality with Mango, in particular additional support for Exchange ActiveSync policies that enforce security requirements for mobile devices.

Rumors about the schedule for updates to Windows Phone 7 and what those updates will include have been flying recently. The current best guess is that we are going to see one or two updates in the January/February time frame, quite possible announced or released at CES in January. Many of the talking heads in the industry see that as a likely scenario because the rumored CDMA support would offer carriers like Sprint and Verizon the ability to announce their Windows Phone 7 launch hardware. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is delivering the pre-show keynote on January 5th. One could assume that there would be other minor updates before Mango is released in the fall. Foley also mentioned the possibility of a Windows Phone 8 (codenamed Apollo) launch in late 2012.

Source: ZDnet: All About Microsoft

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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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The last time there was a 'browser war' with Internet Explorer/WP7 (vs the iPhone 3Gs), WP7 didn't fair too well. Of course, the comparison was not as ideal as one would have liked, but when given lemons...

Luckily, the fine folks over at Pocketnow have done a more proper comparison between the iPhone, LG GW910 (unfinished build of WP7) and Android 2.2 ('Froyo'), loading a few different websites in the process.

Conclusion? Well, for being "unfinished" and a near v1.0, Mobile Internet Explorer actually holds it own. One could only imagine it will get better with the final release and then hopefully some occasional updates. But overall, it looks quite usable and even smoother than Android.

Watch the full 10-minute video after the break!

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Eck. It was bound to happen. Someone put up an iPhone 3GS up against the prototype Samsung 'Taylor" Windows Phone 7 device in a mini-browser war.

Although a lot of press have been giving Mobile IE a 'not bad as we thought' review, it still pales in comparison to Apple's HTML5 based browser.

Now in fairness, Mobile IE may not be finished yet and in fact, is probably not, so we should expect it to perform better by release. On top of that, we know Mobile IE can be updated independently of the whole OS, allowing, in theory, frequent updates to improve the browsing experience.

Having said all of that, who here would not have liked to see WP7 beat the iPhone 3GS out? It sure would have been a nice ego boost and headline grabber. And without 3rd party browsers being available, at least for awhile (Microsoft has said they may be willing to work with companies to offer browser alternatives, if demand is high enough), we won't have much choice. Come on Mobile IE team!

Watch the full, somewhat painful video, after the break!

[NewsGeek via 1800PocketPC; Thanks Saijo]

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