Rumor has it they will launch one soon, but if you’re tired of using the X2ed iPhone version of the Facebook app, or if you’re just tired of Facebook’s new chat interface, check out these 3 free Facebook apps that provide the Facebook experience in an interface that is native for the iPad.
The first thing you notice when you start using Facely is Red. It seems the developers wanted to stand out by using a totally different color scheme than Facebook, which makes the app a bit unpleasant to look at, in my opinion. But let’s focus on function.
When you first load Facely, you get a fairly organized homepage which shows you your live feed with some events above it. These events are not always current, and I did get notified about a poke I received about 3 years ago. Facely does allows you to filter your live feed and view only photos, for example, which is a nice feature.
The profile page is organized similarly to the regular Facebook. You can write status updates or upload pictures from your iPad, but I couldn’t see a convenient way to share a link. The button to the left of the status update box uses your current location to find Facebook pages near you.
The photos interface is nice, but leaves something to be desired. When you access an album you can’t immediately see all the pictures in it, and the whole thing feels a bit clunky. Having said that, most of the necessary options are present, and it’s entirely usable.
Facely tends to be a bit unresponsive and slow at times, but the overall usability is OK. The ad free version will cost you $0.99, but if you can tolerate the ads you can use it for free.
MyPad is a slick and beautiful Facebook app that also connects to Twitter. If you’re an avid user of both, you may find this appealing. MyPad doesn’t look anything like Facebook – it looks better. When you first load it you get a nice sidebar with all the categories you could want to view, and the content itself appears on the right side of the screen. The whole thing is dynamic, so when you view content, the whole sidebar shrinks and turns into icons only.
You can write status updates easily, and also attach a photo or a link. You can also have MyPad publish your update to Twitter automatically.
The photo viewer is pretty fantastic. Not only does it look good, but it allows you to easily view the album in a full-screen slideshow, download pictures almost before you think about it, and easily jump from album to album using the sidebar on the left. What I couldn’t find is a way to tag people in photos.
Another feature I liked is the events. Here you get a calendar where you can choose a date, and immediately get all the events for that whole week. This can go both back in time and to the future.
MyPad is very responsive and fast, and the whole interface just makes me want to use it more and more. One fault I did find with it is that the news feed was not always up to date with the very latest updates, but was missing some updates I could already see on the Facebook website.
MyPad is available for free, but if you prefer it ad-free you can get MyPad+ for $0.99.
FriendCaster is the app that looks the most like your regular Facebook. It’s so similar, that I kept looking for the status update box at the top of the page and couldn’t find it. In fact, to write a status update, you need to tap the little pencil icon on the top left. However, I couldn’t see a way to share a photo or a link from the status update box.
You can view shared photos or videos from within the news feed (as seen above), and tapping the news feed again will close the item and bring you back to the news feed. If you’re the creative type, FriendCaster offers an option to view the news feed in a “stream”. This is a balloon style feed on top of a picture of your choice. What you can see in the screenshot is the default picture.
The photo view is very nice, and you can easily browse albums and within albums. It’s easy to download pictures, “like” them or comment on them. Again, I couldn’t find a way to tag people from the picture itself.
One of the simplest things in a Facebook app should be accessing your profile, but looking for a “profile” button or something similar didn’t yield any results. In FriendCaster, you just use the menu (see above) to view your wall, albums or friends. There is no profile page per se. The wall page is very nice though, and you can easily see all updates, along with the number of likes and comments.
FriendCaster is fairly fast and responsive, but I did find the navigation within it a little bit confusing. You can download FriendCaster for free, and if you share it, you get an ad free version for 30 days.
If you don’t really care about the way the app looks, you might be better off using the official Facebook app (when it comes), which probably has a few more functions these apps are lacking. But if you want something that works and also looks really good (perhaps even better than the official Facebook app would), you should definitely try one of these three apps (I vote for MyPad).
Any other good apps out there? Share in the comments!