Facebook Finally Releases Official iPad App With Multi-Conversation Chat, Photo Browser and More

Facebook has just released its official iPad app. The tablet device was unveiled in January 2010, but development and negotiations with Apple stalled the release of Facebook’s app until now. Facebook for iPad is now available in App Store.

A slide-out navigation bar will allow users to briskly move between the app’s many features. Persistent access to notifications, messages, and requests means users can check for new alerts without having to losing their place as they do with Facebook for iPhone’s dedicated navigation grid screen. Other features include multi-conversation Chat and a full-screen photo browser.

With the iPad app available, Facebook today also announced the launch of its mobile application platform, which you can read more about here. Users will be able to access third-party apps and games from the official Facebook for iPad app, with bookmarks opening previously installed native apps or leading to the App Store where users can download them.

Users have been requesting an official Facebook app since the tablet device’s launch. The developer of the Facebook for iPad app left the company late last month, citing frustration that the app had been ready for so long but not shipped due to stalled negotiations with Apple. The issues were likely surrounding how the iPad would act as a portal to third-party apps.

Apple was likely fighting for bookmarks to open native apps. Facebook wanted them to lead to HTML5 web apps where it could earn revenue from in-app purchases made using Facebook Credits. In the meantime, users have had to use Facebook for iPhone on their iPad, which didn’t provide an experience optimized for the tablet’s screen size.

Alternatively, they could use third-party Facebook for iPad apps, some of which grew to support over one million daily active users. Developers of these apps have been scrambling to differentiate themselves in anticipation of the official Facebook for iPad app launch.

We reviewed much of the iPad app’s functionality in July when it leaked as part of a Facebook for iPhone software update. Here’s a summary of the app’s design and features:

Slide-Out Navigation – Users can slide out a navigation menu from the left sidebar to switch between core in-house apps. Notifications, Requests, and Messages can be accessed from the top of every screen via overlaid drop-downs.

Multi-Conversation Chat – A two-pane interface lets users select between conversations on the left and send instant messages from the right. The Chat buddy list can be revealed while using other features so users can quickly check to see if a friend is online.

Full-Screen Photo Browsing – Photos can be viewed and browsed full-screen on the iPad. A thin, revealable photo strip at the bottom of the screen lets users quickly scroll back and forth within an album or feed. Gestures permit zooming, and users can also record HD video or watch it in-line from the news feed.

Mobile App Access – From the navigation menu, users will be able to access bookmarks to open Facebook and native iPad apps they’ve already installed. Users can also search for new apps or discover them through friends. When uninstalled apps are clicked, Facebook for iPad will open the Apple App Store or the app’s web interface.

Third-party Facebook iPad app traffic may plummet, but developers of these apps knew it was only a matter of time. The rest of the development community has just gained a powerful new channel through which users can discover and access their apps.

Users have finally been granted their wish of an official Facebook for iPad app. . There are many times when users want a richer Facebook experience than available from their phones, but they don’t want to have to lug around their laptop or return to their desk. The iPad app’s laidback experience may drive users to spend more time on Facebook while relaxing on their couch or traveling.