Price: Free    Score: 7/10   Category: Social Networking

It’s been a long time coming, but there’s finally a native Facebook app (iTunes Link) for the iPad. Gone are the days of fumbling through your friends list and swapping categories through cumbersome iPhone menus.

Instead, the new Facebook app features a handy side menu system, similar to what’s found in the iPad Twitter app. This side menu slides the main screen to the right, allowing you to still see your News Feed while you select from other options like Messages, Events, Friends, Pages, Groups, and more.

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Your appreciation of the new Facebook app will depend on your opinion of their newest changes. It seems Facebook can’t make even the most insignificant of adjustments to its interface without calling down the wrath of its users.

In this app, your News Feed looks remarkably similar to the current feed found on your PC. Top Stories appears at the top of the page, while you’ll have to scroll down to read status updates in chronological order. People You May Know appears at the very top of the iPad app, rather than off to the side. Commenting and “Liking” work as normal: simply tap on the “+” and go.

If you’re looking for even more options and screen real estate, switch to landscape mode. Doing so will bring up your active friends list. With this, you can start a new chat instantly, which is a definite improvement over the old menu-based system.

As regular Facebook users might expect, not all is perfect with the new app. While you’re able to access Pages and Groups (post on the wall, read info, check photos, etc.), you’re not able to actually edit or use other administration tools for these elements. Changing the hours of your business or wanting to add other information? Sadly, you’ll still need to log in via a web browser.

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Additionally, the handy Favorites page has been removed, which is sure to upset a number of users. The app also seems to lack a “Share” function, which would allow users to share posts from other users with one simple click.

These complaints aside, it’s hard not to see the new Facebook app as a nice improvement from the original. The ability to swipe for menu access is alone worth the upgrade. But the entire aesthetic of this update just feels more intuitive and well-suited to the iPad. As mentioned, hardcore users will no doubt have a list of wants and complaints. But with a few updates, Facebook for iPad could be the ideal alternative to the web-browser version.

Bottom Line: Not perfect by any means, Facebook for iPad is a nice upgrade over the old clumsy iPhone version.

Facebook is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.

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