Developer: OECOWAY, Inc.
Price: $3.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad

iPad Integration Rating: ★★★☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Facebook was notoriously late in the game getting their iPhone app into the App Store, and so far there’s been no sign of a Facebook iPad app. So it’s left to third party developers to fill the gap. One recent entry into the App Store is Friendly — Facebook Browser, a usable-enough app that is light on features.

Friendly is a pretty close cypher for what I would expect an official Facebook app to look and feel like. It carries over the site’s blue-and-white color scheme, post layout, and pretty much everything else. What it has over simply visiting Facebook through Safari is readability — everything here is optimized for reading on the iPad, with larger fonts, less clutter, and no ads for Pirate Bay or Mafia Wars. There’s give and take, though, because you also lose the little sidebar touches, like Friends Online or the Information snapshot in a profile. But if you’ve simply not been happy with the way Facebook looks on the iPad, Friendly could offer you a more palatable choice.

Where Friendly falls short of just accessing Facebook from Safari is in the amount of things it doesn’t do. It is limited to feed and message services — no access to games or quizzes, no photo uploading, no chat. In fact, even some types of posts don’t make it into the Friendly feed, like “tagged in an album” posts; while these aren’t the most important things in the Live Feed, they’re still something that should be there, and it’s strange that they are excluded. All in all, a lot is missing from the Friendly browser experience, which will annoy dedicated users who like those features.

There were a couple of times I wanted more in terms of interface, too. For example, I’d love to be able to swipe through photo albums instead of static button taps to progress. Also, there’s no way to refresh the live feed to check for new posts. Only by navigating away and then back can you bring up new posts. A Refresh button would be most welcome.

So, should you buy Friendly, or should you continue using Facebook on the web? It depends upon what’s important to you. If you prefer the fullest Facebook experience possible on the iPad, then stick with Safari. But if you favor readability and less clutter, and if you’re less interested in the more ancillary Facebook features, then Friendly might be the app for you.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Social Networking, Reviews

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