Developer: Handmark, Inc.
Rating: Ages 4 and up
Requirements: iPad with iOS 4.2 or later
FriendCaster for Facebook Features
- Easy access to your News Feed, Wall and Photos
- Chat with Friends
- Check out your friends' checkins
- FriendStream that live streams Facebook to your iPad
- Supports Multiple Accounts
FriendCaster for Facebook Review
FriendCaster is what Facebook would look like if it had been developed on the iPad. An easy, intuitive interface that gives you quick access to your news feed and your wall, FriendCaster goes beyond just replicating the Facebook experience. It enhances it.
The Facebook website is fine for the occasional Facebook user, but beyond simply checking the news feed, the interface can get a bit awkward. And for families that have multiple Facebook users who want to check their wall on the same iPad, switching between accounts can become a burden.
That's where FriendCaster comes into play. Not only is switching from one account to another a simple matter involving a few taps of the finger, but all a for those who like to frequent the world's most popular Internet destination throughout the day, FriendCaster will provide a much more user-friendly experience.
The Improved Wall
The home page and wall have both been improved over the Facebook website. Instead of a cluttered page that squeezes updates in a middle column between a not-so-frequently used menu system and Facebook advertisements, the improved wall is split between tagged photos on the left and updates on the right. This makes scrolling through the most recently tagged photos a breeze.
Another nice improvement are status updates that don't automatically show the last few comments. This can effectively double the number of updates you can see on one page, which makes keeping up with your friends a lot easier. And individual comments are just a tap away, so you can easily engage in the discussion.
And if you want to turn Facebook into a Twitter-like experience, you can visit the FriendStream. This will turn your news feed into a real-time stream set against a custom background. New comments appear at the top of the screen and you can quickly scroll through the list with a flick of the finger.
Photo Albums the iPad Way
One of the biggest annoyances I have with visiting Facebook on my iPad is viewing photo albums. The Facebook website is definitely geared more towards PC users, and I often alternate between the need to hit the next link multiple times because I just missed it on the screen and the need to scroll down to see the whole photo.
The photo album on FriendCaster operates just as you would imagine a photo album on the iPad would work. Each photo is sized to fit the screen, you can flip between photos by sliding your finger left or right and read comments by touching the button in the upper right-hand side of the screen.
A really nice touch to this interface is the preview bar at the bottom of the screen that lets you hold your finger down as you slide across it to see thumbnail previews of the photo before seeing it in full screen. This makes selecting an individual photo quite easy.
The interface also makes it easy to save a photo or email it to a friend. You can even select a photo to be the background of your FriendStream.
And That's Not All...
FriendCaster also has a nice, clean interface for chatting with your friends. The chat screen will show you who is online in a column on the left and has a large area for the actual chat messages. You can also flip your switch from online to offline if you don't feel like chatting with anyone. And for those who frequently get annoyed with auto correct changing what they want to type into the text box, you can turn it off for chat.
Do you like location-based services? FriendCaster has a Checkins section that will show you what your friends have been up to beyond just what they say in their status updates. Friend checkins are shown on the map, so you can see which restaurants or bars they've been visiting and when they visited the location.
Few Things Not To Like With FriendCaster
FriendCaster won't completely replace the Facebook experience. If you love playing social games, you'll be hitting the Safari browser. You also won't be able to tweak your privacy settings from inside the app. And if you maintain a fan page, you won't be able to keep up with it from within the app.
But for anyone who finds themselves often on Facebook with their iPad, FriendCaster is a no-brainer of a download.