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PlayBook gets first official tablet-optimized Facebook app and video chat

In all fairness to Facebook, you could use a tablets' browser -- which, for the time being, is mostly Webkit-based -- and access Facebook just as you would on a computer. But sometimes, native code that takes advantage of APIs exposed by a tablet OS outshines fancy web coding and asynchronous JavaScript. Although there are touch and mobile versions of Facebook for "dumb" phones as well as smartphones, the mobile apps for BlackBerry, iOS, and Android offer users a slicker Facebook experience.

What about tablets? Not so much, unless you can deal with unofficial clients for the iPad or a blown-up version of the smartphone-sized official apps. There is a reason why the most popular paid and free apps for the iPad are unofficial Facebook clients. But that will change, starting with the PlayBook. RIM's brand new tablet gets a small boost with the first official Facebook app for a tablet device, which is slated to come later this month.

As spotted on Engadget, there will also be a Video Chat application which will arrive tomorrow, May 3rd. The features on offer are similar to that of Apple's FaceTime, including a restriction to only Wi-Fi hotspots to prevent overloading of cellular data networks. However, that might change when the cellular-enabled PlayBooks are released. The Facebook app will offer friends management in a new grid-like view, seamless browsing of photos and videos, Facebook Chat, and easily open links posted on the Facebook news feed.

Next steps for RIM: get the native email and calendar apps out as soon as possible!

The two press releases are available below.

May 2, 2011 
RIM Announces New Video Chat Application for the BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet 
Allows BlackBerry PlayBook users to easily share special moments with friends and family 
Waterloo, ON - Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ: RIMM; TSX: RIM) today announced the availability of the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ Video Chat application - an easy and fun way for friends and family to place and receive video calls between BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablets over an internet connected Wi-Fi® network. 
"BlackBerry is a renowned mobile communication solution for connecting users to the people and information that matter most throughout their day," said Tom Goguen, VP, Collaboration and Social Networking at Research In Motion (RIM). "With the BlackBerry PlayBook Video Chat application we are excited to be enabling our customers to share important moments and events with family and friends via video calls. With the BlackBerry PlayBook's high-resolution video cameras and stunning display, a Video Chat call is the next best thing to being there." 
Key features of the PlayBook Video Chat application include:
One-Click Video and Voice over Wi-Fi Calls - with just one click users can make a call from their Video Chat contact list, log of recent calls or simply by entering the BBID email address of the person they want to call. 
Incoming Call Notifications - users will receive a notification pop-up when a new video call comes in, allowing them to accept the call as either a video or voice call, or decline the call. For those quiet moments - such as when while watching a movie or playing a game -users will also have the ability to simply set the "Do Not Disturb" option and the BlackBerry PlayBook will automatically ignore all incoming calls. 
Powerful In-Call Functions - by using the picture-in-picture function users can easily preview their own video image prior to placing the call in order to see what will be displayed on the other end. They can also easily switch cameras from front to rear so their friends can see what they are seeing, and for private moments users can mute/unmute audio or make or take calls using voice only. 
Friends List - BlackBerry PlayBook Video Chat comes complete with a Friends List for maintaining your favorite contacts. A picture can easily be added to a contact to personalize the entry and a Call Log makes it simple to keep track of received and missed calls. 
The BlackBerry PlayBook Video Chat application will be showcased this week at BlackBerry World 2011 (www.blackberryworld.com) in Orlando FL. It is expected to be available on May 3 and will be distributed to existing BlackBerry PlayBook customers through an over-the-air software update and will also be available on BlackBerry App World™.
May 2, 2011 
RIM Announces New Facebook App for BlackBerry PlayBook 
Waterloo, ON - Following on the success of the Facebook for BlackBerry® smartphones app, Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ: RIMM; TSX: RIM) today announced Facebook for BlackBerry® PlayBook™ -- a new app that delivers popular features of Facebook, optimized for the 7" high resolution, multi-touch LCD display of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. 
"There are over 30 million users of our Facebook for BlackBerry smartphones app who are staying in touch with their social network while on the go," said Tom Goguen, VP, Collaboration and Social Networking at Research In Motion, "Now with Facebook for BlackBerry PlayBook we can also offer customers highly engaging social experiences optimized for the PlayBook including the ability to share FaceBook pictures and videos with friends and family on an HDTV." 
Facebook for BlackBerry PlayBook offers users a highly engaging experience by integrating popular features and functionality of Facebook including: 
View and add Friends - Users can interact with friends quickly and easily: find friends by scanning the new grid view of their profile pictures; search for and add new friends and manage new friend requests; browse their profiles, photos and videos; view and interact with wall posts; view key information on profiles and pages; and view, comment and 'like' photos on profiles and pages. 
Enjoy seamless photo and video viewing - Facebook for BlackBerry PlayBook makes it easy to upload photos from the BlackBerry PlayBook Picture Library, tag friends in photos, view comments, tags and likes. The BlackBerry PlayBook can also be connected to an HD TV to display photos and videos at a whole new level in full 1080p HD. 
Connect with friends using Facebook Chat - On the BlackBerry PlayBook screen, users can enjoy side-by-side viewing of online contacts and active conversations. Notifications of new Chat messages are displayed on the Notifications Bar, so users can quickly and easily read and respond to new Chat messages while browsing friends' profiles, viewing their pictures or reading their status updates. 
 • View and interact with the News Feed - Users will be able to browse highlights such as photo uploads and status updates and seamlessly view links in the BlackBerry PlayBook browser. They will also be able to "Comment" and "Like" to discuss and show appreciation for friends' content, as well as publish a status update or upload a photo from the status publisher accessible from their Profile or from within the News Feed. 
The Facebook for BlackBerry PlayBook application will be showcased this week at BlackBerry World 2011 (www.blackberryworld.com) in Orlando, FL and is expected to be available on BlackBerry App World™ in May.


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