Why Facebook needs an iPad app

Facebook held a press conference the other day at which CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook does not need an iPad app because the iPad is not a mobile device. The latter part of that statement is an argument in itself, but I want to give three big reasons why Facebook does indeed need to provide their customers with an iPad app.

Media uploads

The biggest problem with using Facebook on Safari is the inability to upload photos and videos. One may argue that the iPad does not have a camera, hence there is no need to upload photos with it. This is simply not true. I may find a photo on the web that I saved to my photo library and desire to share on Facebook. Or perhaps I'm on vacation and uploaded a bunch of photos to my iPad with my camera connection kit and want to share them on Facebook. I could have even synced photos to my iPad and edited them with one of the many photo editing apps available. It'd be nice to immediately upload to Facebook without taking the intermediate step of transferring the photos to my computer first. You get the point. There are many situations in which one might desire to upload a photo to Facebook with their iPad.


Facebook is a social networking platform and, as such, the ability to chat with friends is a big part of the service. But good luck chatting while on your iPad, the ability to do so is simply impossible.

Tagging friends in status updates

When writing a status update for Facebook on a Mac or PC, if you start typing a friend's name preceded by the @ symbol, a drop down menu appears with names of friends you can tag in your post (ex: "@Rene Ritchie"). If you try to do this on an iPad, the menu simply does not appear, making it impossible to tag friends in status updates on the iPad. This is frustrating, to say the least.

These are just three reasons why Facebook needs to design an app for the iPad. There is also the fact that Facebook on the web is designed to be a used with a mouse, not a finger. Yes, it (mostly) works with Safari on the iPad, but the fact of that matter is that the Facebook experience on the iPad could be so much greater with it's own app. Why doesn't Zuckerberg see this?

One of my theories is ads. It's no secret that Facebook makes their money from ads. Most people who use Facebook on their iPhone or iPod touch also spend a lot of time using the web version and thus still see ads. But if an iPad user had an ad-free Facebook application on their iPad, they may never use the web version again. I wouldn't. I have a feeling this is what Zuckerberg meant when he said the iPad is not mobile. iPhone users primarily use the Facebook app when the are out and about - away from a computer. But many iPad users will browse Facebook while at home sitting on their couch - 15 feet away from their desktop or laptop. That's million of users who may potentially never encounter a Facebook ad again.

My solution? Bring the ads! Sure, it may initially upset users to see ads when using a Facebook app on their iPad, but at least the overall experience will be better than using Safari. Sometimes I wonder if Zuckerberg has forgotten who his true customers are - Facebook users.

What do you think about the lack of a Facebook app on the iPad? Do you think ads may being playing a part in its nonexistence? Do you want a separate iPad app or are you happy with using Safari?

Sound off in the comments below!

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Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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Reader comments

Why Facebook needs an iPad app


they def do. right now friendly is banking. FB is saying they dont need an app. more likely they dont want to hire ipad dev. the webpage sucks compared to the app. never even use the site anymore only the app. im sure not the only one.

All the reasons above you mentioned are flaws from iPads safari!
So kindly ask Mr Jobs to dont put out a half ass product out there.
And ipad is NOT a MOBILE device. its a PORTABLE device.
If iPad is mobile device, then PSP and DS and any laptop should be qualified as MOBILE.

These seem like more of a problem with the iPads lackluster browser than Facebooks website. The iPad should have a more full featured browser than can handle popular websites. I feel as if I am using a phones browser on a laptop sized screen. It is not Facebooks responsibility to pick up the slack for Apple's failure.

I hate that if I were to click to see the attendees of an event, or I want to see the list of everyone a person is friends with, it only shows the first few people and WILL NOT scroll. That and not being able upload pictures are the 2 most annoying things
Tweger01: You can use the iPhone app on the iPad, but have you tried iPhone only apps on the iPad? CRAPPY experience.

So. due to ipads lack of a full web browsing experience, or because ole Stevie j doesn’t want to play nicely with others, why is it facebooks role to provide a solution to apples own doings??

@Damien.. I can't even use the Facebook website cause there's just too much... lol Too much going on, coming from the old Myspace. I didn't get on FB until I got the app, and the app is all I use.
This dude is gonna get facially moded. lmao

I'm fine with the existing Safari version myself. I do wish that I could upload photos, but apart from that I have little interest in a separate app.

I think people need to think about what could be done on the iPad that would go beyond what you could do with the web page.
With an iPad app, you could:
1. enable facebook users to show a slideshow of pics from their facebook photos, or those of their friends, using the iPad's built in photo frame / slideshow feature.
2. make friend suggestions based on the iPad's contacts / address book.
3. use the iPad's location services to provide location for posts, like the iPhone.
4. provide a better browsing experience and faster load times by using a UI that doesn't need to be downloaded every time you refresh the page.
5. and ... the big one ... you could do all of the things that you do with an iPhone, and still have room to show the ads - which is probably the real reason that Zuckerberg wants you to use the web site instead of another mobile app.

So because the iPad can't properly handle normal web functionality...Fb should spend time and money building an iPad app? This is an iPad fail.
How's that "open" portion of iOS working out? :-/ #sarcasm

Many apps are like this. Netflix is one. They spent time and money building one.
People want apps instead of using a browser on mobile. I thought we knew that by now? If Facebook wants to reach more users, they'll get one eventually.

Once again, I don't think Zuckerberg said there would be NO iPad app, only that it does not fit into their MOBILE (i.e. pocket/smartphone) strategy. Another Facebook exec clarified that they are still exploring their tablet strategy. I think that's a good idea. The Facebook event this week was a MOBILE event. If they don't consider the iPad a mobile device (which, given their definition of mobile, it isn't), we shouldn't expect them to talk about it, pro or con.
Zuckerberg was not very elegant in his response, but I think it's a mistake to draw ANY conclusions about their plans iPad/tablets from those statements.

So take your iPad out of your pocket and shoot a picture with it.
Oh, it's in your backpack? Okay. I'll wait..... No camera?
Doesn't seem much like a mobile device to me. It's a portable device. Mine has replaced my MacBook Pro for excursions, but frankly I with the iPhone app was more like the mobile web version.
You're told you can't have something so it's the only thing you want. Just like Flash.
FFS, let it go. He is not obligated to provide an app if he doesn't feel there are advantages.

Anybody who ever used an iPad knows Facebook needs an iPad app. There's such an opportunity here and I don't know why they don't jump on it. Just imagine the advertising revenue they are losing. Free money!
For those whining about the lack of Flash on the iPad: the horse has been beaten to death. The iPad is over 90% of the tablet market so Facebook can either be stubborn or adapt...

Now that Oecoway's Friendly for Facebook offers a Lite (free) version and added instant switch-user functionality (version 3.0), who needs another Facebook app for iPad ;-) It's just gonna get better...

Nah I don't need an app, never needed to upload pics from iPad, and if I needed to there is already an abundance of 3rd party apps that will let me do that, or as others have said, just download the ipod version of the app if it really matters to you.

It's really disturbing to see how casually you refer to stealing someone else's images off the web and then sharing them as your own. I would think someone who creates content would have a bit more respect for others who do the same.

I agree that many of the issues with Facebook on iPad's Safari is a fault of the iPad. I can only hope that the browser will improve over time. However, this does not mean that Facebook shouldn't make an app. There are millions of Facebook users with iPads. That's reason enough to make an app. Instead, many of these users are turning to 3rd party ad-free apps. Ultimately, it's hurting Facebook.
@William - Why do you assume that the "stealing" of images is used so maliciously? What if my mother posts a photo of MY daughter on facebook and I want to share it. Sure, I can "share" the photo to my wall, but since her privacy settings are set to only allow her friends to see her photos, not all of my friends will be able to see it. And maybe I just want it to show up in my photo albums. Or maybe I find a really nice picture somewhere else, share it to Facebook, and provide a link in the caption from where I found it. I didn't say anything about claiming someone else's photos as my own.

1) Media uploads - You cannot get media ONTO the iPad except syncing it from machines which have other, better fb options.
2) Chat - Beejive, IM+ and others offer far better fb chat experiences than fb does in any format, app or website.
3) Tagging friends in status updates. Ok, you've got me there. Facebook has 500 million users, but it would surely rocket to a cool billion if only iPad users had a drop down for status updates.

Does the Facebook app for the iPhone not work on the iPad? (Not sure if it now requires iOS 4 or not) Side bar, kind of been wondering, I know you can pixel double iPhone apps but if an app is made for the retina display does it show up on the iPad that size or still the old size and you have to double it?

Someone tried to draw an arbitrary distinction between mobile and portable. Really? I'm pretty sure that in this context they're synonyms, you idiot.

When iPad 2 comes out, and tons of people buy it, the numbers alone should make Mr Facebook make an app for it. Just does not make good business sense not to have one.

They dont want to make a iPad app so you will continue to view Ads on Safari, unlike the iPhone app where you dont see Ads! Its SO OBVIOUS!

We certainly need an iPad facebook appication cause even when you go onto the main site on iPad using safari it doesn't fit on the screen propery grrrr
Facebook application for iPad is needed ;-)

I definitely agree! While the Friendly iPad app makes FB navigation a bit easier it won't allow the user to share a post or private msg... I couldn't believe what I was hearing when they proclaimed that an iPad was not a mobile device! The only reason I attended that FB event was for the answer to the iPad app question!

I use friendly. It allows uploading photos and almost everything a desktop experience will give you.
I do think facebook should have an app though. Is it just me or has Zuckerberg gotten pretty condescending??

Better idea. Instead of having a bunch of websites rewrite everything, that small percent of the market can just support what everyone else already does...

Why do we need an official Facebook app? Social is already great. Offical doesn't mean automatically better. I prefer Echofon Pro over the official Twitter app.

The official word from Facebook was that they want to target all tablets through the web, not an app. iPad does need any special treatment, it has the iPhone version of the app to use for the moment and that's good enough.

I don't see facebook lasting that long anyway. It will be just like myspace, great for a wile then something will come out better and facebook will fade away with the rest of the trash out there.

I think it is in the best interest of any enterprise that builds apps, that they consider the iPad in any of their development roadmaps. Plain and simple. We can shoot holes all day in Safari and it's lack of features to support the experience in comparison to other browsers, but at the end of the day, you develop the app to meet the device. It's common sense.
There is a ton of untouched innovation and features to explore through having an iPad app. And with other versions to come and even the Blackberry Playbook, it's only wise to consider the tablet market and formulate a profitable strategy, include ads, who cares.

Are there any other browsers available to the iPad that allow you to tag friends in your status updates?

Friendly Facebook is still good!
There were many included updates the past days.
And the best part is that, your posts now say:

The problem is Safari for iOS.. I could do all three of the things listed here using my old Nexus One Android 2.2 browser. When I switched to the iPhone 4 I was extremely disappointed by the lacking browser.

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