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For over a year, Facebook fans been waiting very patiently for the company to release an iPad app. In June, The New York Times's Nick Bilton declared that an app had been in the works for over a year with plenty of hands-on attention from founder Mark Zuckerberg, but it was "unclear" when the app would be unveiled. That was five weeks ago, but at some point between then and now, Facebook released the code for the app in an update to their iPhone app. Tipped off by a mobile app developer on Twitter, MG Siegler at TechCrunch found the code and launched the app. It works and "it's spectacular," writes Siegler. With the plans for a dramatic release dashed, bloggers rushed to run the app themselves and their reactions are similarly enthusiastic.

"The navigation system is great," says Siegler of the new iPad app. Like Twitter's app, Facebook uses a lefthand navigation bar that offers one-touch access to any part of the site. Also, like Twitter, the app uses pop-over windows that can flicked off the screen when you're done with them and turning the iPad sideways shows you a column of your friends in the Chat feature. Siegler also notes how you can check out where your Facebook friends are with a Places-powered map and view pictures and video in full-screen.

It's illegal but you can get the app today, says Martin Bryant at The Next Web. As Siegler notes in his original post, the app does work with the existing code, but it requires you to do some iPad hacking that's against the rules. Calling the app "an incredibly well thought-out way of browsing Facebook" and likening the app to a "halfway house" between the iPhone app and the full site, Bryant does the work for you. In 11 less-than-easy steps, he offers up a set of instructions to JailBreak and install the app, in case you want to check it out before it's released in a few weeks. Bryant also loves the Places map.

"I'd suggest waiting," says Gizmodo's Kat Hannaford. "After all, you've already gone 18 months without an iPad app, and there are a plethora of other ways to update your FB status on your iPad that don't come with the risks of unvetted software." Indeed, Apple and Facebook are working together on a big rollout for the app, which Nick Bilton said last month would be a "big boon to both Facebook and Apple." Siegler also confirmed Monday that the app found in the iPhone code is in fact the same one that Facebook will release soon.

Try it at your own risk or just gaze longingly at the many photos over at TechCrunch. If that doesn' satisfy your Facebook voyeurism, they also have a bunch of photos of Facebook's new offices.

 

UPDATE: TechCrunch is now reporting that Facebook has blocked access to the app. "Oh well," writes Greg Kumparack If all else fails, you can always load all the photos from our full photo gallery into your iPad’s photo app and pretend.

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