Facebook plans in coming weeks to introduce a free iPad application that has been carefully designed and optimized for the tablet.
The app has been in production at Facebook for almost a year, going through several design iterations, and is now in the final stages of testing, according to these people, who declined to be named because they were discussing confidential product plans. The Facebook for iPad project, which's said to be "carefully designed and optimized for the tablet," has been overseen by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
People who've seen the application said it has a slick design that has been tailored for the iPad and its touchscreen interface. Facebook developers and designers have also overhauled the Facebook Chat and Facebook Groups features for the app. And the app will go beyond the features available on the Facebook Web site by allowing users to shoot and upload photos and videos directly from the iPad's built-in cameras.
"The photo and video experience is amazing, offering full resolution and full-screen images," said a person who has seen the app.
The report also says that Facebook for iPad will be free, which seems pretty obvious, and doesn't offer a release date more specific than "in the coming weeks." Facebook currently serves their iOS users with their wildly popular iPhone and iPod touch application.
The new app could be a boon to both Facebook and Apple. Mobile applications and optimized mobile Web sites have been a major area of growth for Facebook, with the company saying that there are now more than 250 million Facebook users actively accessing the service on a mobile device. Facebook is approaching 700 million users worldwide.
Jaime Schopflin, a communications manager at Facebook, declined to discuss any future products. "We've a great relationship with Apple that's exemplified by our iPhone app, but with regards to an iPad app we've nothing to announce now, and cannot comment on future Facebook products," she said. Apple declined to comment.
Apple also plans to help Facebook promote the new app by featuring it prominently in the App Store, said a person familiar with the plans for the app.
In addition to the iPad app, Facebook also plans to introduce a better version of its Web site for the iPad. It's unclear when this'll be unveiled, but it's not intended to compete with a Facebook iPad or iPhone app, and instead is meant "to supplement these experiences," this person said.