Friday, June 17, 2011

Facebook Is Finally Preparing an App for Apple's iPad


An elusive iPad app appears to finally be coming from Facebook, which already has an app for Apple's iPhone. Like other social-media companies, including Twitter, Facebook appears to be following the better-late-than-never strategy and adding extra features. The trend for social networks appears to be taking back control of the user experience.

Facebook is preparing to launch an iPad Relevant Products/Services app -- finally. So says The New York Times, citing people briefed on Facebook's plans.

The app is indeed long overdue. Facebook has an iPhone application, but the iPad app has been elusive. Although many speculate as to why it has taken Facebook so long to develop an app for the larger form-factor device Relevant Products/Services, the software Relevant Products/Services appears to be coming this summer -- with some compelling features.

"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," the Times reported. "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." (The iPad 2 has cameras, but the original iPad does not.)

An App for That

Jake Wengroff, global Relevant Products/Services director of social media strategy at Frost & Sullivan, said it's strange it has taken Facebook this long to create and launch an app for the iPad. In the meantime, he noted, the Friendly, iFace, MyPad and Friend Screen apps Relevant Products/Services for the iPad remain popular in Apple's App Store.

"Some say it's politics between Facebook and Apple that have led to this delay. But this move signals a larger trend of the major social networks making calculated decisions to 'take back' control of their brand and user base," Wengroff said.

"By launching native applications, they can control every aspect of the user experience -- as well as that of the advertiser. This was seen recently with Twitter buying TweetDeck and launching its own URL-shortener and photo-sharing service Relevant Products/Services."

Build or Buy?

Indeed, social-media companies are often slow to respond. As Wengroff mentioned, Twitter just launched its own URL shortener last week to compete with the likes of bit.ly. Like the Facebook app for the iPhone, it seems social-media companies follow the better-late-than-never strategy to offer something users can't find in third-party services.

Twitter's URL shortener, for example, works much the same way that competing URL shorteners like bit.ly do, but with the added convenience of link shortening right from the Tweet box on Twitter.com. Users can paste a link of any length into the Tweet box. After they have composed a message and hit the Tweet button, Twitter will automatically shorten the link so it only takes up 19 characters.

Instead of reinventing the app wheel, Twitter acquired TweetDeck, a personalized browser for staying in touch with what's happening now, connecting with contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, in late May for more than $40 million. It lets users customize the Twitter experience with columns, groups, saved searches, and automatic updates. Users can also see what other people are saying about them, send tweets, and share Relevant Products/Services photos, videos or links.

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