Facebook’s iPad app finally hits the App Store

Just like that – Facebook hit the iPad.

There wasn’t any of the expected fanfare, nor even much of an announcement. Just a press release to fire up the biggest app not available on the iPad has finally hit the iTunes App Store, just in time for the release of Apple’s next big update to its mobile platform, iOS 5. No doubt iPad owners updating their devices today are going to be very happy.

We’ve been waiting for a Facebook iPad app almost as long as there’s been an iPad, and there has been talk that Facebook has been working on the app for more than a year. The lack of an app for Facebook has been a pretty massive hole in the functionality of the iPad, given the social network’s unrivaled popularity. And tons of third-party apps have sprung up to fill the void – but none of them were the official, sanctioned apps of Mark Zuckerberg, and none included the kind of power that Facebook has baked into its own native app.

It appears as though what we saw of Facebook on the iPad that was leaked a couple of months ago is pretty much what we’re getting today. The app is universal, as expected, and carries that spiffy looking, elegant interface first seen when the app was discovered hidden within Facebook’s iPhone app.

According to a report from the New York Times, Facebook on the iPad will also make use of the device’s multitouch capabilities, a feature that hasn’t been available thus far in its iPhone offering or mobile web page. The app will also support games and Facebook chat, as well as the ability to capture photos and videos with the iPad and post them directly to Facebook.

Here’s a quote from the Times’ story that sums up why iPad owners have had to wait so long:

Bret Taylor, Facebook’s chief technology officer, said in a phone interview that the app was delayed because it “just wasn’t ready yet.”

“We felt that the Facebook Web site on the iPad was a really good experience,” Mr. Taylor said, noting that the company wanted to make sure it was taking advantage of the possibilities of an iPad app before announcing a new product. “We really feel that we have built an app that takes full advantage of touch, photos and chat.”

Only one question remains: Will iPad owners use their iPads more now that Facebook is available on the device, or will Facebook cut into other apps’ share of users’ iPad time?

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