Facebook finally unveils Apple iPad app

After more than a year, Facebook touts new app optimized for the iPad

After months of anticipation, Facebook finally released its first app for the iPad.

The social network announced on Monday that iPad users finally will have a Facebook app optimized specifically for their device. Until today, more than a year and a half since the iPad was unveiled, iPad users only had what basically was an iPhone app running on their Apple tablet.

"Many of you have been asking about Facebook for iPad. Today's it's finally here," Leon Dubinsky, a Facebook mobile engineer, wrote in a blog post. "With the iPad app, you get the full Facebook experience right at your fingertips.... Photos really shine on the iPad. They're bigger and easy to flip through, like a real photo album."

Facebook for iPad, which is available in the Apple App Store, has a left-hand menu for users' games, apps, groups and lists. And messages and notifications are at the top of every screen.

Dubinsky noted in his blog post that the app also has several new features. Users now can chat with their friends right from their iPad, and they also can play games on Facebook in full-screen mode. He added that users now can record HD video and stream to Airplay devices.

There was a lot of speculation about an iPad app in June when reports began to hit the Internet that Facebook was close to releasing one built specifically for the iPad. And while users were excited to get a look at the new app, there were a lot of questions about why it has taken Facebook so long to create it.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group at the time, said last summer the reason for the delay was a mystery.

"Facebook has had an app that could run on the iPad, but it's lame," he said in a previous interview. "It wasn't developed for the iPad -- it's an iPhone app running on the iPad. There is nothing iPad-unique about it."

Kerravala now is with ZK Research.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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