These days, you'll probably hear a lot of developers talk about writing applications for different form factors. This is a way to refer to the physical dimensions — and often the capabilities — of a device. The form factor of a computing device mostly concerns how big it is and, importantly, its screen resolution.

Developing for devices with smaller form factors is challenging. Compared with developing for PCs, you have a lot less screen area (often referred to as screen real estate) to play with. Recent developments such as multitouch zoom functionality in mobile web browsers and the Windows Phone 7 Pivot and Panorama controls have to a certain extent eased this restriction for users; however, you still have to consider form factor as you develop Windows Phone 7 applications.

The screen size and the lack of a mouse or human hand-sized keyboard are the major challenges in writing applications for mobile devices. Therefore, we address these issues right at the start of this section. In addition to these challenges, however, mobile devices have a number of benefits. These include:

  • Mobility and location awareness though Global Positioning System (GPS) and/or other technologies
  • Flexibility of use and detection of orientation and movement
  • Haptic feedback, such as vibration
  • Other built-in hardware features of devices, such as the Back button

All these features are either unique to mobile devices or are much more important ...

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