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Facebook iPad App Finally Drops. Was It Worth the Wait?

Posted on the 11 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
The New Facebook iPad App

Facebook on the iPad. Photo credit: TechCrunch

It was inevitable: sooner or later a a Facebook app for the iPad would materialise. Released on Monday, after months of frenzied speculation, the app is now available for free from Apple’s App Store.

This summer, it was rumoured that Facebook was developing an HTML-5 version known as “Project Spartan”, which was not going to be available from the App Store, but as a free download online for all mobile applications. That never happened, and the app released on Monday is specifically tailored to iPads.

Leon Dubinsky, a software engineer from Facebook, touted the new app on the Facebook Blog, and remarked that “using Facebook on your iPad just feels fun.” He highlighted the main features:

  • The ability to scroll, swipe and “pinch” your way through Facebook.
  • Bigger, brighter photos that are easier to flip through “like  a real photo album”
  • A new left hand menu that contains games, apps, groups and lists along with messages and notifications on a bar at the top of the screen.
  • Chat, games and apps are all available straight from your iPad.
  • Videos the user can “watch high-resolution videos inline, record HD video and stream to Airplay devices.

The tech blogs have lit up with excitement at the highly anticipated app and users have so far awarded it with four stars, giving mixed reviews on the iPad’s app store. Here’s the verdict from the key blogs:

A good start, but room for improvement. Gizmodo gave the most extensive review of the app. While the reviewer praised it for being “smooth, fast and touch friendly”, for its use of different layers to cram in more functions, for its “giant profile pic thumbnails” and for its inclusion of a map in the “Nearby / Places” feature, the reviewer criticised the unwieldy linking, the inconsistent linking of messages and chat, and the annoyingness that is the insertion of linebreaks when one hits enter in messages. Overall, it’s a “nice” step forward, though improvements could include “more nuanced control over what comes in through the news feed” and “more of the visual flair that the Timeline redesign has given to profiles” adjudged Gizmodo.

About time. Lydia Leavitt at engadget expressed her relief at the denouement of the mystery of the Facebook app. Indeed, she said, an iPad with no Facebook app is “kind of like eating a peanut butter sandwich with no jelly.” Commenter Cisko 2K was less enthused: “Just downloaded the new FB ipad app, boring boring … FB has failed on this app.”

Beneficial for Apple, Facebook. The new app could convince consumers to buy the iPad muses Nick Bilton on the New York Times’s Bits Blog: Seeing a slick Facebook app could convince people to choose an iPad over competitors, as there is no Facebook app specifically tailored for tablets running Google’s Android software.”

What’s new? Alexia Tsotsis at Techcrunch wondered if there’s any difference between the iPad app and the iPhone app. Through annotated photos she showed that there isn’t much to differentiate the two.

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