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More details on Facebook’s rumored iPad app

by Phil Hornshaw

Hidden in the code of the iPhone app update Facebook just pushed into the iTunes App Store this week is apparently the full, working version of its much-rumored iPad app – and it is accessible right now.

Tech Crunch has the story, where they’re posting a bunch of photos of the app. It takes a little finagling to access it, including jailbreaking your iPad, but the app is apparently all there, in full, hidden inside the iPhone app. That suggests that when Facebook finally decides to “ship” the final iPad app, which could be any time now, it will  be universal and just detect which device it’s currently being used on.

App to include floating menus, rotation function

The code, it seems, was first discovered by a Canadian engineering student who tweeted what he’d found. TechCrunch has been using the app extensively and is posting high praise, mentioning that it includes strong uses of floating menus and a rotation function that, when flipped horizontally, makes available Facebook’s chat functions in a sidebar while leaving the rest of Facebook available for browsing. The app offers browsing using a navigation bar down the left side, which seems to be a great improvement over the often difficult-to-navigate and clunky iPhone version.

We began hearing that Facebook was preparing an iPad app and that it’d be on its way to the App Store earlier this summer, but now it appears that Facebook has been further along in the process than anyone really imagined. With the code already in the iPhone app, surely the company has been testing Facebook for iPad extensively. It seems strange that Facebook would leave the code out in the wild, even hidden, which makes me think that the launch of the app has been very close on the horizon.

Earlier this summer, anonymous sources started letting rumors fly about a native iPad app, along with more plans Facebook supposedly has about apps built in HTML5 that it wants to use to compete on iOS devices and maybe a photo-sharing app. Those rumors stated that Facebook had been working on the app for a year and that the development process had been slow-going in order to create a strong app – now it seems that really was the case, and that the iPad app may, more or less, be ready to go.

We’ll keep on this story to let you know as more develops, but I think it’s fair to say that whatever plans Facebook may have had for finally releasing its iPad app are going to be sped up. Expect Facebook for iPad relatively soon.