Facebook question: Is that an iPad app in your iPhone app?

AP Photo, file
Busted by Facebook? Social networking boasts have cost some their freedom
file,AP Photo

When Mark Zuckerberg promised last month to "launch something awesome" early in July, there was a fair bit of excitement about the imminent prospect of an iPad app for the social network. When Facebook instead announced Skype video calling and group chatting, the group yawn reverberated from coast to coast.

But that doesn't mean the idea is stillborn. Indeed, TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook has hidden the code for its long-awaited iPad inside the code of the latest update to its iPhone app. Whether this means Facebook is close to an official announcement remains unclear. But signs suggest something is in the offing. TechCrunch found executable code in Facebook's most recent update to its iPhone app that lets users with so-called jailbroken iPads access and use Facebook's tablet application. Until now, anyone trying to connect to Facebook on an iPad has had to access the social network via the Safari browser.

According to TechCrunch, which fiddled with its iPad to run the program, the app works quite nicely. Here's an excerpt:

In particular, the navigation system is great. Unlike the iPhone app -- which even its creator is complaining about now as being stale -- the Facebook iPad app uses a left-side menu system that can be accessed by the touch of a button or the flick of the iPad screen. The app also makes great use of the pop-overs (overlay menus) found in other iPad apps. When you flip the iPad horizontally, the list of your online friends appears and you can chat with them as you do other things on Facebook. The photo-viewer aspect looks great -- similar to the iPad's own native Photos app. Places exists with a nice big map to show you all your friends around you. Etc.
One caveat to note: Apple is not fond of users monkeying around with its hardware or software to run apps that don't yet receive its official imprimatur. Keep in mind in case you were thinking of trying this out at home.