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Today, at long last, Facebook has introduced its application for Apple’s iPad.

The app will give users “the full Facebook experience, right at your fingertips,” writes former Microsoft employee and current Facebook engineer Leon Dubinsky on the Facebook blog.

“Facebook on the iPad feels fun,” he summarized.

Facebook’s new iPad offering will let you access chat features, messages, photos and profiles. The app places particular emphasis on visuals, for obvious reasons. Dubinsky writes, “Photos really shine on the iPad. They’re bigger and easy to flip through, like a real photo album. It’s like having a slideshow with all your friends and memories, wherever you go.” Touch capabilities mean you can swipe a finger to slide through an album and pinch to zoom in on a picture. You can also go into full-screen mode, as seen in the screenshots below.

The app features a slick navigation bar on the left side for finding games and apps, as well as a drop-down box with notifications and new messages available on each page at the touch of a fingertip.

In addition to chatting, browsing and flipping through pictures, you can also play games in fullscreen mode, watch high-resolution videos in line and stream content to Airplay devices.

The long-awaited release has been one of the more anticipated — and hotly contested — application launches of the year.

Back in June, a Project Spartan rumor surfaced. Reportedly, the project was to build an HTML5-based web app for mobile Safari that would to circumvent Apple’s App Store. The rumor originated on TechCrunch. While we’re sure that a couple Facebook engineers could have been working on such a project (the company’s intrapreneurial culture means that small teams are working independently on all kinds of projects all the time, but many of them never see the light of day), Spartan turned out to be smoke and mirrors.

In fact, the company’s iPad app had already been in development for nearly a year.

In addition to today’s iPad announcement, Facebook has also given its iPhone app a facelift. The new version of the app features faster search, simpler navigation and better access to games and Facebook apps.

You can get both apps free of charge in the iTunes App Store right now.

As far as an Android or other OS tablet app is concerned, a Facebook spokesperson told VentureBeat, ““We work closely with every mobile device maker and platform provider; however, we aren’t announcing anything beyond the iPad at this time.

“Tablets are obviously an exciting segment of the mobile market now and we are as excited as everyone is in seeing the new device experiences that may be coming down the line. People today can visit on their Android tablets and have access to most of the features and functionality of the iPad app, including the ability to access app and play games.”

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