Facebook is reportedly prepping an official application for the iPad.
According to a July 16 article in The New York Times, itself quoting unnamed “people briefed on Facebook’s plans,” the social network is prepping a free application for release in the coming year. The software has been under development for the past year.
“One person who works with Facebook said Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive and founder, has been heavily invested in the process,” the article suggested, “overseeing design decisions and the app’s unique features.”
Facebook has certainly become more aggressive in expanding its functionality, if current reports eventually prove accurate.
In addition to an iPad application, Facebook is reportedly prepping an HTML5-based platform for mobile applications, which could end up directly challenging Apple’s App Store.
“The initial target is both surprising and awesome: mobile Safari,” TechCrunch’s MG Siegler, who claims to have seen the project firsthand, wrote in a June 15 posting. “Facebook will never admit this, but those familiar with the project believe the intention is very clear: to use Apple’s own devices against them to break the stranglehold they have on mobile app distribution.”
He went on to claim that “80 or so outside developers” are currently working with the social network on the project. With the mobile Web version of Facebook open, users will be able to tap the application they want to load, and watch as it activates within a “Facebook wrapper” that also gives access to features like credits.
“Android will also clearly be a part of this new platform,” he wrote. “But we’re told that the initial target is definitely mobile Safari on iOS devices.”
Apple and Facebook boast a complicated relationship. In September 2010, Apple launched Ping, a social-networking service build to allow millions of iTunes users to share their opinions on music and artists. It connected with Twitter, but Facebook refused to allow its services to interoperate with Apple’s newborn network-apparently, the two companies couldn’t agree on terms.
Siegler also posted some screenshots June 15 that seem to show an application similar to other mobile-photo applications currently on the market, such as Color and Instagram.
Facebook continues to find itself in conflict with Google, with whom it fights for online advertising dollars, and which has made no secret of its plans to expand into social networking. At the same time, Facebook continues to deepen its relationship with Microsoft, which owns a minority stake, and whose Bing search engine now boasts many features derived from Facebook’s social data.