Hot on the heels of yesterday’s rumors that Facebook would be launching an HTML5 App Store competitor and Facebook’s response that claims native apps and the web aren’t in direct competition, the New York Times reports that an official iPad app from the social network is in the works and should be coming soon.
People “briefed on Facebook’s plans” told the NYT that the new app, which would be introduced in the “coming weeks” for free in the App Store, would feature redesigned Facebook Chat and Facebook Groups features, along with a touchscreen interface created specifically for the iPad. The report further asserts that Mark Zuckerberg personally had a significant role in the redesign process, according to a person who works with Facebook.
The app will also supposedly take advantage of the iPad 2′s camera, allowing people to snap photos and upload them directly to Facebook albums. Photo browsing will offer full-resolution images, along with full-screen browsing, too.
That Facebook would be engaged in developing an iPad app does agree with what the company said yesterday in a brief statement regarding the Project Spartan HTML5 app store it was said to be creating. Specifically, Facebook had this to say about the website versus app debate: “We don’t expect developers to choose between HTML5 and native apps. We expect they will choose both, just as we did.”
Facebook has not provided any indication that it has been working on an iPad app since the device’s release. In fact, Zuckerberg even stated that he didn’t think the iPad was a mobile device, leading many to believe that the company thought its cross-platform website was a good enough client for the Apple tablet. The success of paid and free third-party iPad applications that plug into Facebook services, like My Pad and Friendly, seems to suggest that iPad owners feel otherwise.
Facebook declined to comment on future products when asked about the iPad application. I do think we can expect to see a native Facebook client, however, since continuing to ignore that growing segment would leave a lot of potential traffic and engagement on the table. Also, the Facebook experience on the iPad right now is pretty much defined by third parties. The social network probably isn’t crazy about potentially having part of its brand image resting in the hands of outsiders. Do you think Facebook will finally bend to user demand and introduce an iPad app, or continue to point Apple tablet owners to the web?