It has been confirmed that Facebook will launch its iPad app at Apple's iPhone 5 unveiling event next week. The long-awaited application has been floating behind the scenes since May, according to former Facebook engineer Jeff Verkoeyen. On his blog, Verkoeyen revealed Monday that his frustration at the app's continually delayed release was a contributing factor to his decision to leave the social networking company.
Verkoeyen isn't the only one fed up with Facebook. Though next week's joint announcement signals a rapprochement of sorts for the two companies, growing strain has marked the relationship between Facebook and Apple over the past two years. As widening scopes of influence have brought the two companies closer together, they have made efforts to collaborate, despite corporate philosophies that fundamentally clash with one another. Experts suggest that tension arises from the fact that neither company is willing to surrender primacy where user experience is concerned. Apple is known to jealously guard its status as the first point of contact between a user and any of its products. The fractious relationship between the two giants has been marked alternately by collaborations, last-minute withdrawals, tentative conciliation and relatively public expressions of dissatisfaction.
First, there was the disintegration of a joint endeavor involving Apple's iTunes-based social network, Ping, released last fall. Though the initial launch included users' ability to add friends via a feature called Facebook Connect, Apple and Facebook were unable to use this option and it was pulled no sooner than the next morning by Facebook, which turned off Apple's access to its Facebook Connect API. When asked about the situation at the time, then-CEO of Apple Steve Jobs stated that Facebook leadership's onerous terms had prevented integration with Ping. The removal of Facebook Connect crippled Ping, which suffered from its inability to pull from a ready-made database of contacts and instead relied on users' finding one another by searching name or Apple ID email.
Then came the announcement early this summer that Apple had incorporated a social media network into its selective iOS 5 platform - and that network was Twitter. Apple's integration of Twitter into its newest platform is a tremendous coup for the micro-blogging site, which currently has a little less than half the number of users as Facebook. With its decision to go with Twitter, Apple publicly bypassed the world's largest social networking site and went instead to a comparatively small competitor.
It is said that the long delay that so vexed Jeff Verkoeyen is a direct result of these strained relations. But with the iPad app finally slated for release, it seems that Facebook and Apple have reached a détente, if only for the time being.
Update: As of Thursday, Oct. 6th, the Facebook iPad app has not been released. Please check out our follow-up story here.