It’s astonishing, really, that it’s taken Facebook so long to come up with an app that’s optimised for the iPad. Facebook-using iPad owners – a hefty cross-over market, one would have thought – have had to make do with the iPhone app, which squats desolately in a smartphone-sized compartment of the iPad’s expansive screen, and fails entirely to harness the tablet’s ability to handle more complex tasks.
First things first: the iPad version of Facebook’s app now occupies the entire screen in normal resolution. And the layout has been modified to take advantage of this extra space. You can view far more at once than was possible on the iPhone, thanks to the use of side-bars; the navigation bar appears on the left, while information bars pop up on the right. There’s a lot less swapping between screens than on the iPhone app.
Photo viewing, too, is far better on the iPad. Your shots occupy full screen, and you can zoom in or navigate by swiping left and right. (Conveniently, you can also swipe left to bring up the option to delete a post, and right to bring up the navigation bar.)
As with the iPhone, you can use location services to check in posts to a specific place, and instantly post pictures and videos taken with the iPad’s camera.
Some early users have reported bugs with the app, and we noticed a few ourselves. Posts generally seemed quite slow. Photographs taken using the iPad’s camera often appeared upside down in the thumbnail while we prepared to post them. And we had a couple of spontaneous app closures. But it would be a surprise if Facebook didn’t continue to tweak and fine-tune the app as imperfections and glitches come to light.
Combining the mobile perks of the iPhone app with the scope and ease of use of the desktop service, Facebook’s iPad app is a truly happy medium – and one that’s long overdue. Some users will gripe about changes to the layout, of course, but that’s par for the course with Facebook.