Developer: Kent Nguyen
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.2.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad

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

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Some things just may not happen. A native Facebook app for the iPad appears to be one of those things. Nature abhors a vacuum, however, so multiple developers have ponied up their best apps to create a Facebook experience on the iPad. Results have been mixed. The latest attempt, Hello.App, has similar (mixed) results. It does some things quite well, but in the end it might not be worth a purchase when Facebook in mobile Safari works as well as it does.

Anyone who has used Facebook within the iPad’s mobile version of Safari can attest that it works, if not always perfectly or consistently. Hello.App strives to create a clean, streamlined version of Facebook. Once signed in, users are brought to the News Feed page, but may easily navigate to other areas, including messages, notes, events, places, friends and notifications via a row of icons at the top of the page (note that Hello.App functions well in both landscape and portrait modes). Curiously, on the home page there is also a row of clickable options (including links to the desktop Facebook site, and the option to log out) but these are rendered less than ideal due to formatting that causes them to jam up against one another or overflow onto other parts of the screen.

Hello.App does add several innovations to the traditional Facebook app. One is the use of bookmarks. Users can bookmark friends as they browse, making their walls readily accessible anytime from the bookmark menu. However, it’s unclear what can be bookmarked and what cannot. As it stands currently, users are extremely limited in terms of bookmarks, but I can see where this is a feature that could be exploited in the future.

The other innovation is the use of a navigation wheel. When accessed, the wheel allows users to bookmark, message, poke or view the profile of friends. Again, it’s a clever idea, but its implementation is spotty. It’s hard to know when it will be available and when it won’t. I spent several frustrating minutes trying to figure out the nuances of both the wheel and the bookmarking features, but they are unintuitive as they currently exist.

Hello.App tries to separate itself from the pack of Facebook apps available on the App Store, but it’s clear there is still much work to be done before it can rival the desktop Facebook experience. For now, stick with that.

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

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