Facebook essentials

Automatically upload your mobile photos and perform your most-used Facebook functions with this application tailored to both the iPhone and iPad.

At long last, Facebook as a universal app is finally here and if you're an iPhone or iPad user looking to browse the popular social site, the app is better than ever. On the iPad specifically, it might be the best platform for browsing the site available.

Now a universal app for both iPhone and iPad, Facebook offers a fun and fast way to browse through friends' pages, statuses, photos, and more. The interface is fairly sparse, but makes it easy to get exactly where you want to go on the site quickly. Across the top you have a button to open the navigation sidebar, one to look at friend requests, a chat bubble for messages, and a globe for notifications. To get to the navigation sidebar, you can either hit the button or simply swipe your finger to the right. On the sidebar you have all the same functions that you would on the Web site, letting you touch to browse the News Feed, Messages, Nearby check-ins, events, groups, and any Facebook apps you might use (each of which can be used on the iPad). Nearby check-ins in particular is much better in this update, letting you see a map of where your friends have checked in, with a list of recent check-ins you can browse on the left.

One of the best things about Facebook on the iPad is how easy and fast it is to browse photos. Just tap on a friend's name and you quickly get all of his photo folders. From there you can just tap on a folder and browse quickly through all his photos. Alternatively, you can view a photo full-screen and just swipe to move on to the next picture or you can touch a strip across the bottom (iPad only) to jump between photos. To go back to folder view, you can simply do a pinch gesture and the photo has a collapse animation to smoothly deliver you back to the folder. You also can quickly upload a photo from your library or snap a new picture for upload on your iPhone or iPad 2. All of these elements are laid out to make your most-used actions on Facebook both easy-to-use and fast.

Overall, with an extremely intuitive interface, touch-screen controls that take advantage of the larger screen real estate on the iPad, and all the functionality you get on the Web site, the latest version of Facebook for iOS is better than ever. On the iPad, it might even be the best platform for browsing the site--even above your computer. If you have an iOS device and use Facebook, this app is a must-download.

Facebook for iPad

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