The social networking company had been expected to unveil its iPad app, which was said to have been ready for several months, at its F8 developer conference last month. Reports suggested that the absence of the iPad app from the event was due to ongoing negotiations between Apple and Facebook that aimed to reconcile conflicting platform policies.
Apple appears to have forced Facebook to accept its terms and preserved its In-App Purchase system as the only allowed way to pay for digital and virtual goods: While Facebook is now requiring that mobile Web apps connected to the Facebook Platform use Facebook Credits as their exclusive digital and virtual goods payment mechanism, just like regular apps on Facebook, the company says that "Facebook Credits are not allowed in iOS apps or mobile Web apps that are running within a Facebook iOS app."
But Facebook hasn't walked away empty-handed. It now has a presence on the platform of the moment, Apple's iPad, which now accounts for 97% of all tablet Internet traffic and for more mobile Internet traffic than the iPhone (46.8% compared to 42.6%), according to ComScore.
[ Facebook's focus at its F8 developer conference this year was its new Timeline profile. Find out more. ]
Facebook's iPad app is by its nature more tactile, allowing users to swipe through photo albums. The app takes advantage of the iPad's large viewing area.
The app also includes a left-hand navigation panel to make it easy to interact with Facebook's various features. It supports chatting with friends, games, and the ability to view high-resolution videos inline.
Facebook for iPad is available through Apple's iTunes App Store.
The Facebook Platform enhancements bring social channels like Bookmarks, Requests, and News Feed to mobile apps. Bookmarks, for example, offer an easy way to engage with apps developed on the Facebook Platform. Previously they were available when accessing Facebook through a desktop browser. Now Bookmarks appear on Facebook's mobile clients, like Facebook for iPad or the iOS Facebook app.
Facebook says that of the 350 million people who access its site every month using mobile devices, about half use native apps and half use Web apps. The social network says it encourages developers to build both native and Web apps.