The New York Times reports
that Facebook is finally set to release a free iPad app "in coming weeks", remedying a curious omission for the social networking service that touts over 600 million users worldwide.
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.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who along with other company executives noted
last November that the company was still been trying to decide how best to handle the iPad, is said to have been "heavily involved" in the app's development.
People who have 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 application. 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.
Facebook's iPad app comes just as TechCrunch reports
that the company is preparing to launch a new HTML5-based mobile platform codenamed "Project Spartan" that would take on iOS on its home turf by running within the mobile Safari browser.
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.
Facebook's vision for Project Spartan reportedly includes integration of its Facebook Credits
payment system that would allow developers to offer paid apps and in app purchases directly through the web-based platform.