Finally, an official Facebook app for iPad

iPad 2

The days of needing to use Friendly or other third-party applications to access Facebook on the iPad may be soon over. The New York Times reported Friday that sources said the social networking site is close to releasing an application of its own after nearly a year in development.

Facebook's long delay in bringing an official app to market seems also surprising. The company was one of the first in 2008 to launch a native app when Apple opened up iOS to third-party developers.

It is believed that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has played a key role in overseeing the process and approving design and feature considerations. His lead role in the development of Facebook for iPad seems reminiscent of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' role in Apple product development.

Chat and Groups functionality has been tailored for the bigger screen that the iPad has, and like the iPhone version, users would be able to take pictures and upload them directly from the iPad itself. One person familiar with the capability called the photo and video experience on the device "amazing."

While many have turned to using the full Facebook site through Safari when on the iPad, it is not well-suited for the touchscreen interface. To fix that, Facebook plans to also debut an iPad-optimized version of its main site.

In any case, the web version of Facebook on the iPad is intended to supplement the app experience, not replace it, NYT sources say. It is not immediately clear whether or not the website would launch at the same time as the app.

The app is expected to be available in the "coming weeks," the report claims.

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