More than a year after Apple released its first generation iPad, Facebook has finally jumped on board with an official app. Although there have been many third-party downloads available to view your friend feed on the tablet, and Facebook did launch an iPhone app months ago, this latest move makes viewing and posting to the world's most popular social networking a whole lot easier on the go.
For starters, from within the main dashboard on the left-hand rail (see below) you have access to "Favorites" such as your News Feed, Messages, Nearby (contacts), Events, and Friends. This is similar to the web interface, but if you have a large network of friends it's much easier to scroll through the many updates on the iPad.
1. News feed
One of my complaints about the overall Facebook experience as of late is that the platform looks cluttered. Although I like the "Ticker," where you can see real-time updates, the right-hand side of the browser version hurts what is otherwise a clean user experience. Fortunately, the iPad app takes simplicity to a new level. As I'm writing this one of my Facebook contacts Randy Benn messaged me to say, "The new app for iPad definitely brings new life to your FB news feed." I couldn't agree more and expect that I will use Facebook to watch my newsfeed (see below) more on the iPad than I ever did on my laptop.
If you rely on Facebook to view photos of friends and family you won't be disappointed with the iPad experience. Wall Street Journal Tech Columnist Walt Mossberg retweeted a message from a user claiming "all of my Facebook photos look downright awful blown up to full-screen view on the new FB iPad app." My experience has been the opposite. When I scroll through friends' photos, assuming they were good quality pics when they were uploaded, they look fantastic full-screen. Also, swiping through the gallery is a much more seamless experience than viewing each picture click-by-click on a computer.
Posting updates is a also cinch. Whether you want to post text, a photo, or check in with your location, it's all one swipe away at the top of your screen. Messaging is also integrated nicely within an "in-box" of sorts that includes your chats as well.
Down the left-hand side of the screen on the iPad you will find your Groups and Apps. Facebook is betting its app ecosystem will play a much bigger role in the overall user experience, especially with so many big brands coming on board. For example, Wal-Mart recently announced its "My Local Walmart" app so customers can find nearby store information, deals, and have in-store events posted directly in their news feeds.
5. Privacy settings
Finally, if you concerned about Facebook privacy, simply click on your Account in the bottom left-hand corner of the app and second on the list is "Privacy Settings." This section is easier to manage than the web version, a welcome relief for anyone trying to balance a personal and professional life online.