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BlackBerry PlayBook Gets Facebook App Before iPad

Score one for RIM: its new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is getting an official Facebook application before Apple’s iPad. Announced at this week’s BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida, the new app is the first tablet-optimized interface for the PlayBook. With Facebook for PlayBook, users will be able to view and add friends, read through their News Feed, view photos and videos and chat with their Facebook friends.

RIM says it already has over 30 million BlackBerry smartphone users who access Facebook on their phones, and the new tablet app will extend Facebook to its new tablet users, too. RIM worked closely with Facebook on the app’s development, it said, which is notable, considering that Facebook has pointedly refused to launch an iPad application on Apple’s tablet computer. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once said, when asked about the absence of an official Facebook iPad app, that the iPad was not mobile – it was a computer.

The PlayBook, then, must be “mobile,” in Zuckerberg’s eyes, at least.

The new app supports the following features:

  • View and add Friends –  Users can find friends by scanning the new grid view of their profile pictures; search for and add new friends and manage new friend requests; browse their profiles, photos and videos; view and interact with wall posts; view key information on profiles and pages; and view, comment and ‘like’ photos on profiles and pages.
  • Photo and video viewing – Facebook for BlackBerry PlayBook makes it easy to upload photos from the BlackBerry PlayBook Picture Library, tag friends in photos, view comments, tags and likes.  The BlackBerry PlayBook can also be connected to an HD TV to display photos and videos at a whole new level in full 1080p HD.
  • Connect with friends using Facebook Chat –  On the BlackBerry PlayBook screen, users can enjoy side-by-side viewing of online contacts and active conversations. Notifications of new Chat messages are displayed on the Notifications Bar, so users can quickly and easily read and respond to new Chat messages while browsing friends’ profiles, viewing their pictures or reading their status updates.
  • View and interact with the News Feed – Users will be able to browse highlights such as photo uploads and status updates and seamlessly view links in the BlackBerry PlayBook browser.  They will also be able to “Comment” and “Like” to discuss and show appreciation for friends’ content, as well as publish a status update or upload a photo from the status publisher accessible from their Profile or from within the News Feed.

The Facebook app will be available in the BlackBerry App World app store sometime in May, but no exact date was given for its launch.

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