updated 10:25 pm EDT, Thu June 16, 2011
Facebook iPad app enroute
Facebook is finally in development of a native iPad app, insiders divulged Thursday night. The free app would be specially optimized and has been given enough close interest that founder Mark Zuckerberg is personally involved in the design. The app seen by an NYT source wouldn't just include staple features like Chat but allow direct photo and video uploading with an "amazing" media browser.
The app is in last-stage testing and should be available within weeks. An improved version of the website tailored to the iPad is supposed to arrive in the future as well but would be a complement rather than internal competition.
A native iPad app would be a symbolic backtrack for Zuckerberg. At a special mobile event, he gained notoriety for claiming that the iPad wasn't mobile from Facebook's perspective, since it behaved more like a desktop. Since then, substitute apps such as Friendly have become some of the more popular apps for iPads and have hinted at sustained demand.
The development could signal a warming of relations between Apple and Facebook. Although Apple balked at Facebook's terms for Ping at the last minute, Apple will reportedly highlight the iPad app "prominently" in the App Store whenever it goes live. Facebook for the iPhone has been a mainstay of free apps and often considered a device seller for Apple, leading to a logical extension for the iPad as well. Project Spartan may also be a sign of warmth: despite the seeming competition, it would be optimized for the iPhone and drive hardware sales even though it wouldn't boost iTunes.