The absence of an iPad app created by the world's largest social networking site did not go unnoticed by users, bloggers and analysts at large who have been guessing at the app's release date for months. After all, Facebook's iPhone app is consistently among the most popular apps on iTunes, and smaller social sites like Twitter, Match.com and Yelp have had their own iPad apps for some time. There's even an "Airstream Trailer Owners Community" iPad app to help Airstream RV owners connect with one another.
The release of Facebook's iPad app coincides with the company's ambitious push to grow its presence on mobile devices and bring more of the site's full functionality to smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
In addition to launching its new app, Facebook announced several changes to the way Facebook apps will function on mobile devices, noting that the company is "extending Facebook Platform on mobile." The latest upgrade -- which is currently limited to iOS devices and Facebook's mobile site, but should be coming to Android devices soon -- stands to increase the engagement users can have with Facebook apps while on the go.
For example, the mobile version of Facebook's app will adopt the list of bookmarked apps that currently appear on the left-hand side of Facebook.com when accessed via PCs, a change that will better showcase Facebook apps and make them more accessible. Clicking on an app's bookmark will take users directly to that app, though the route can vary slightly: click the "FarmVille" app on Facebook's iPhone app, and if you've already downloaded the FarmVille iPhone app, that app will launch. On the other hand, if you haven't downloaded yet, you'll be taken to the App Store and given the option of downloading the FarmVille app. Users will also be able to access apps mentioned in their News Feeds in a similar fashion.
In its blog post on "Facebook for iPad," Facebook highlighted the appearance of photos, noting that users will be able pinch on photos to make them larger, flip through photos "like a real photo album," and browse photos individually by making them take up the full screen. Facebook also showcased several new features that allow users to "play games on Facebook in full-screen mode" and "watch high-res videos inline, record HD video and stream to Airplay devices."
Below, take a look at screenshots of the new app, which can be downloaded from the App Store here.