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Facebook readying launch of iPad app?

Social-networking giant plans to introduce a free app in the coming weeks tailored especially for the tablet's touch-screen interface, according to The New York Times.

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Facebook may finally be ready to give iPad users their own app--more than a year after the device went on sale.

The social-networking giant plans to introduce a free app in the coming weeks that is designed and tailored especially for the tablet computer's touch-screen interface, according to a New York Times report that cited people who have been briefed on Facebook's plans. The app, which has been in development for more than a year, is in the final stages of testing, these sources told the Times.

The Facebook Chat and Groups features have been overhauled, and the app will allow people to upload photos and videos shot by the iPad, according to the report.

Facebook representatives did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

iPad users have been begging Facebook for an iPad-native app since Apple began selling the device in April 2010, and it's likely that both Facebook and Apple would benefit from such an app.

The availability of an app optimized for iPads might help sway tablet shoppers on the fence about whether to purchase an Android-based tablet or Apple's device. For Facebook, about half of its 500 million active users access the social network through a mobile device, and those users are twice as active on Facebook than non-mobile users.

Facebook has apparently been focusing a lot of attention lately at winning over Apple users. Facebook's iPad app would likely benefit from a new platform that Facebook is reportedly developing to work only on mobile Safari. Dubbed Project Spartan, the new platform will be HTML5-based and aimed at iOS devices like the iPad and iPhone, according to a TechCrunch report.

Facebook is also reportedly working on a photo-sharing app for the iPhone that won't be integrated into Facebook's existing iPhone program. Instead, the service will be a standalone option that leverages Facebook's social graph, according to another TechCrunch report.