Next-Gen Official Facebook App for the iPad Coming SoonThe iPad has been steaming ahead for over a year. Gently rolling along behind comes the world's biggest social site (news, site), which is finally ready to grace it with a proper Facebook app. 

Take Your FaceTime?

When a new consumer device comes out, there's a list of things people look for. YouTube? Check! Gmail? Check! Facebook... Facebook? Bueller? So, it does seem odd that Facebook left iPad users stringing along with the web version of the social media site for so long.

But in the background there has been a lot of effort to make Facebook's iPad app a thing of great beauty and usabillity. With all the screen real estate, the developers have really gone to town and users will be able to enjoy great full-screen, hi-res, photo and video to get the most out of that screen.

Facebook's communication features will take advantage of all the iPad's accessories, including both cameras and, presumably, the microphone. Facebook Chat and Group Messaging have been given a loving massage to make the neat and supple for the new generation of tablet users. Throw in in-app uploads, and users could start spending a lot more time wrapped up in the Facebook realm, rather than just quick visits to the web version.

Face to Face

The new app is expected to be shown off in the next few weeks, and will probably rocket to the top of the iPad downloads chart on the App Store. However, the app could also play host to a secret weapon, with Facebook looking to get its own way of downloading stuff on to your iOS devices (these improvements will likely feed through to the iPhone version) without going through Apple's store.

Whether that's Facebook-based games or other content, it could be interesting to see how Apple treats what it would see as attempts to circumvent its will. Facebook's super-secret Project Spartan is supposed to use HTML 5 to provide a platform for a wide range of interactions and games, all outside Apple's realm.

Whatever happens, iPad owners will soon be able to enjoy Facebook in a whole new way. If it's half as stellar as predicted, other tablets (like HP's new TouchPad) will look on forlornly and can only hope that Facebook developers will grace their devices with a version too.

Facebook has also recently tied up with RockMelt to improve the desktop browser Facebook experience, while Apple's troubles with Facebook seem to have been compounded by Apple choosing Twitter integration in its upcoming iOS 5 update.