File Under: Browsers, Mobile

Internet Explorer 10 Brings HTML5 to Windows Phone 8

Web font support is just one of IE 10′s new mobile tricks. Image: Microsoft

Windows Phone 8 brings Internet Explorer 10 to mobile, which means Windows Phone 8 devices have much better HTML5 support than previous releases.

The version of IE 10 that ships with Windows Phone 8 packs in most of the improvements found in its Windows 8 desktop/tablet cousin, though there are a few exceptions web developers should be aware of.

First the good news. IE 10 on mobile is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors and supports web app essentials like the Application Cache API for creating offline apps and IndexedDB for storing data. There’s also support for Web Workers, WebSockets and several of the new HTML5 form elements. For more on the latter, be sure to check out developer Andrea Trasatti’s nice rundown of HTML5 form support in IE 10.

IE 10 on mobile has all the new CSS features found in the Windows 8 version as well, including CSS layout features like CSS Regions and Grid layout. The Windows Phone Developer Blog also touts Flexbox, but it appears that IE 10′s Flexbox support uses the older syntax, which effectively means it doesn’t support Flexbox (so far Chrome and Opera are the only browsers to support the new syntax). Hopefully Microsoft will add support for the new syntax in a future IE 10 update.

While IE 10 for Windows Phone 8 is very close to feature parity with the desktop/tablet release, there are a few things web developers need to be aware of. Here’s Microsoft’s full list of things IE 10 can do on the desktop but not on phones:

  • Inline video
  • Some of the new manipulation views APIs  for touch panning and zooming, with the exception of –ms-touch-action
  • Multi-track HTML5 audio (simultaneous)
  • ActiveX and VBScript
  • Drag-and-drop APIs
  • File access APIs with the
    exception of blobs which
    are supported on Windows Phone 8
  • Windows 8 integration features: Link previews, pinned site icons & notifications and support for connecting sites to apps
  • Also in Internet Explorer 10 for Windows Phone, Window.open does not return a valid window object. This is because on the phone each “window” is isolated in its own sandbox.

The lack of support for the File Access API is disappointing, but to be fair iOS has been around for over five years and it just recently added File API support. However, the biggest gotcha for web developers may well be the last item since it’s not so much a missing feature as an unexpected behavior and could affect applications that would otherwise work just fine.

For more info on what’s new in IE 10, check out Microsoft’s technical documentation. For IE 10 on Windows Phone specifically be sure to read through the entire post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog