RIM just announced the beta release of the Facebook for BlackBerry smartphones app v2.0 through BlackBerry Beta Zone starting today. The Facebook app  v2.0 is the biggest update  since the release of v1.0 more than three years ago. This initial release of v2.0 has a redesigned user interface and also offers Facebook Chat!

Below are some of the new features of Facebook for BlackBerry smartphones v2.0:

Facebook Chat
You can now check to see which of your Facebook friends are online and start a Chat conversation from within the Facebook application or within the unified mailbox on your BlackBerry smartphone.

On Facebook for BlackBerry smartphones, as long as your status is set to online, you still receive notifications even if you are not using the Facebook app.

Improved News Feed
Improved News Feed interactions enable you to scroll through your News Feed without accidentally clicking ‘Like’; you can simply click the ‘More’ button (+) to interact with your friends’ posts. Enhanced publisher functionality allows you post photos to your Wall, add an update, or check in to a Facebook Place from the News Feed.

New Navigation Control
By introducing a whole new way to navigate the Facebook for BlackBerry smartphones application, we’ve moved from a static navigation bar to a drop-down navigation control that is scalable to support new features in the future.

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Notifications Bar
Borrowing from the BlackBerry® 6 OS’ “Today View”, the notifications bar offers an easy way to access your Facebook Notifications, Messages, Friend Requests and Chats from anywhere in the Facebook application.

External Notifications
You don’t have to leave the Facebook for BlackBerry smartphones app to see what’s new on your device. The BlackBerry smartphone external notifications header lets you see when you’ve received a new email message or BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™) message without having to leave the Facebook application

New Profile UI and Profile Information Viewing
The New Profile UI now provides Wall, Info, and Photo tabs for an even better browsing experience. New to v2.0 is the ability to view key information on Profiles and Pages, such as contact info, basic info like birthdays, hometown and relationship status, and likes and interests.

Note the initial beta release will be available for BlackBerry 6 users only, but support for BlackBerry Device Software 4.6 and higher will be added in subsequent beta releases and will be available in the official version.

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