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What’s All the Fuss About Path?

Courtesy of Corina Mackay

If you spend much time online, you’ve probably heard all the hubbub about micro-network Path recently, since the app had a makeover to become Path 2.0. As a micro-network, Path is focused on small, user-centric groups. Although this means it’s not set-up to be a marketing tool like Facebook or Twitter, it’s making waves through the tech world at the moment, which means it’s at least worth knowing what all the fuss is about.

In a nutshell
Path 2 is a mobile app for iPhone and Android with promotes sharing almost anything with just a small group of friends.

Design makes a difference
Path’s design is probably the most salient discussion topic about the revamped app. Every review I’ve read so far mentions the slick user interface, and intuitive design.

Path Design

image credit: The Next Web

A “+” button in the bottom left corner reveals six sharing options when tapped, which has generated a lot of talk, including an in-depth post over at The Next Web about Path 2’s design features. By keeping all six sharing options in one place, the Path team have made using the app simple and easy.

Path Timeline
image credit: TechCrunch

With comments and emoticons to break up the media-heavy timeline, the user interface is a perfect blend of easy-to-use functions and incredible eye candy.

Share everything, but not with everyone
When Path was originally launched as a photo-sharing app, users were only able to add a maximum of 50 friends. Although this limit has increased to 150 for Path 2, the focus is still on selective sharing.

What you can share has also been expanded to include videos, music, thoughts, sleeping patterns and where you are. At first, this might sound like over-sharing, but with a select group of your closest friends, it makes more sense. TechCrunch pointed out that the more ‘friends’ you connect to online (a la Twitter or Facebook), the less personal data you feel comfortable sharing.

With integrated sharing options for Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, sharing data through the Path app can be extended to other networks as well, for the items you want to make public. And, since the app is being touted as a “smart journal”, it also offers private settings for posts you want to keep to yourself.

But wait, there’s more
Path has a few extra features to mix things up, as well. When sharing a song, the post will automatically include a preview of the track from iTunes, and a link to purchase the song from the iTunes store. Using affiliate iTunes links is one way the Path team hopes to monetize the app. Extra photo and video filters are also available for in-app purchase.

Automation is an interesting feature in the new version, too. Fitting with founder Dave Morin’s plans to create a “journal that writes itself”, the app also has an option for automatic location updates, if you travel to a new neighbourhood.

What next?
With additions to the Path team like Foursquare’s former head of operations and the Lead Product Manager for Google+, we can guess that big things are in store. TechCrunch recently mused that life-tracking device Jawbone UP and Path would make a great team, and I could see other life-tracking services integrating with Path to make sharing even more natural and automatic.

For those of us who have added too many ‘friends’ on Facebook, or use Twitter for business purposes, perhaps having a way to share our daily lives with a smaller, focused group of friends and family has a place. What do you think? Is this just another social network to deal with, or can you see real benefits from using it?

You can download Path 2 and try it out now from the iTunes store or Android market.

3 Responses to this post.

  1. Sean R. Nicholson's Gravatar

    Posted by Sean R. Nicholson on 07.12.11 at 8:23 am

    I’ll have to check it out, again. Good to see that they have an Android app. When I reviewed the app earlier this year, it just didn’t have anything to offer me, since it was only for iPhone and it didn’t work half the time.

    Updated: Path Makes My Social Network REALLY Easy To Manage By Offering Me Nothing Of Value
    http://www.socmedsean.com/path-makes-my-social-network-really-easy-to-manage-by-offering-me-nothing-of-value/

    Thanks for bringing them back on my radar!

    –Sean
    @socmedsean:twitter

  2. Anonymous's Gravatar

    Posted by Anonymous on 07.12.11 at 8:23 am

    Hi Sean,

    I’m glad you’re going to check it out, I definitely think it’s worth a look. I have heard several people say that they don’t see the point of Path yet, or what it can offer them that other networks don’t. I think it really depends upon how you use social networks currently.

    For me, I only use Facebook to interact with a very small set of people, because we are close (emotionally) but very far away (physically). If I can get those people onto Path, I won’t need Facebook anymore, and I won’t need to give Facebook my data to pass on to advertisers!

    I also think once Path fixes the sharing options for the Android app so that updates can be pushed to other networks besides Foursquare (which is the only one I can get to work so far), I will be able to update all my networks from within Path, and it may become a regular app for me.

    I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts after trying it out again. But be prepared to be lacking in features compared to the iPhone version, still!

    Thanks for reading :)

  3. Anonymous's Gravatar

    Posted by Anonymous on 07.12.11 at 8:23 am

    Hi Sean! Thanks for chiming in.

    There are SO many social media tools out there, it really boggles the mind. I have a Google Alert set up for “social startup” and my Inbox gets flooded.

    The social media scene is dynamic and there’s lots of room for innovation. Very exciting!

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