According to The New York Times Facebook is finally setting up to launch a native iPad app for the hugely popular social networking site. To put this news in perspective, Apple’s tablet has been out for over a year and Facebook has yet to introduce an application, but it’s finally arriving and iPad users would certainly be happy. Facebook has over 600 million users worldwide and is continuing to expand to other devices and major platforms.
People briefed on Facebook’s plans say that in coming weeks the company plans 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.
Last November, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the company was still trying to figure out how to utilize the iPad and also mentioned that the he was heavily involved in the developing of the iPad optimized Facebook application. Facebook’s iPad app announcement comes just days after TechCrunch reported that the social giant is allegedly developing a new HTML5-based mobile platform codenamed “Project Spartan”, that would use iOS to it’s full advantage by running within the mobile Safari browser. “Project Spartan” is rumored to integrate the Facebook Credits payment system that would allow developers to offer paid apps and in-app purchases directly through the web-based (Safari in iOS) platform.
As of right now, there are believed to be 80 or so outside developers working with Facebook on Project Spartan. These teams are working on apps for the platform that range from games to news-reading apps. Some of the names should be familiar: Zynga and Huffington Post (owned by our parent AOL), for example. The goal is to have these apps ready to roll in the next few weeks for a formal unveiling shortly thereafter.
Considering the fact that many Facebook apps for iPad have become top grossing apps on the App Store it will be interesting to see if the official app can offer unique features to outshine the paid versions.