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How to Facebook on the iPad: Five free apps

Until Facebook releases its own iPad app, a handful of third-party apps give you an iPad-optimized Facebook experience.

Five free Facebook apps for the iPad: Facely HD, FriendCaster, Friendly, MyPad, and Flipboard. Matt Elliott

Facebook is finally getting around to releasing an iPad app, according to a recent New York Times report. Part of the reason it has taken more than a year to develop an iPad version of Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg's insistence that the iPad is not a mobile device but a computer. And he's right in one respect: Facebook is perfectly serviceable when accessed via the iPad's Safari browser. If you are looking for a dedicated iPad version of the site, however, there are a number of third-party apps that offer unique interfaces for the touch-screen tablet. Since we're reportedly only weeks away from a free iPad app from Facebook itself, I am limiting the discussion here to free apps.

Four of the apps--Facely HD, FriendCaster, Friendly, and MyPad--are ad-supported Facebook apps, with a banner ad running along the bottom of the screen. The fifth is Flipboard, a news aggregating app that you can set up to hook into your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Think of it as an RSS magazine.

I invite you to have a look at the slideshow below to get a sense of each of these Facebook apps for the iPad.