Facebook Launches Official iPad App, Highlights Multi-Touch Interface
After months of holding off on its release of an official app for the Apple iPad, Facebook has announced that users can now get the "full Facebook experience" on the iPad through the native app, available from the App Store.

Facebook has previously been criticized for holding off on releasing a native iPad application for so long, and the former lead developer for the app has publicly expressed frustration with how disputes with Apple may have delayed the release of the application. While the app was earlier leaked alongside the iPhone-native version, Facebook has since pulled this out, choosing to let iPad users access the mobile web version of the site, instead.

Facebook for iPad App Official-w600.jpg

Facebook's official iPad application focuses on a touch-friendly interface for manipulating content on the tablet.
 

Official iPad app launched

Yesterday, though, Facebook launched its official iPad app, and highlighted its focus on touch-based interfaces for manipulating content. "With the iPad app, you get the full Facebook experience, right at your fingertips," explains Leon Dubinsky on the Facebook blog. The Facebook iPad app highlights the use of gestures in manipulating content like photos, navigation and the like. Here are some highlights:

  • Gesture-based navigation. The Facebook iPad app supports two-finger scrolling to move through news feeds. A swipe pages through albums. A pinch or stretch will adjust picture zoom.
  • Better photo albums. The Facebook iPad app takes advantage of the tablet's bigger screen (relative to the iPhone) and makes it easy to view images in full screen. Users can also page through photos like a real photo album.
  • Navigation pane. Facebook has provided a quick way to navigate through the social network with a navigation pane. All applications, groups and lists are on the left-hand menu, which is accessible from anywhere within the app through a button.
  • Chat, games and other features in full-screen. These apps can now be played in full-screen mode, and will take advantage of the bigger screen size by splitting information between contacts list and conversations.
  • AirPlay mirroring. iPad users can now stream high-definition video to TV screens through AppleTV with the use of AirPlay.

Mixed Reviews, So Far

While iPad users have been all worked up about this app since the initial leak, Facebook's app release has had a mixed reception so far. Some, like ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick, have lauded the app's simple and utilitarian approach to social networking. Lifehacker's Adam Dachis says it's not much different from its iPhone counterpart, but is an obligatory download.

Getting the App on your iPad

The official Facebook iPad app is available as a free download from Apple's iTunes Store. However, that's not the only update Facebook has launched recently. The social network has also implemented major changes in its mobile web interface, which now closely resembles its iPad application. Accessing m.facebook.com from mobile browsers -- and even from desktop browsers -- will open an interface akin to the iPad app, and is designed for use with touchscreens.