“Path is the smart journal that helps you share life with the ones you love.”
This is how Path sums up their new social media and sharing service. For those who would like to share “moments” (as Path calls them) with others while on the go, with more options than Twitter but without all the security and privacy issues of Facebook, their smartphone app makes it easy.
One novel approach to Path is that you can only have a maximum of 150 friends on Path. Studies have shown that this is the maximum number of friendships that the average person can maintain through life. As they say on Path, we tend to have 5 best friends, 15 good friends, 50 close friends and family, and 150 total friends. It does make you rethink who you’d share life’s moments with.
Using Path on Android phones is dead simple. Open the app, and you are presented with a timeline of sorts, showing shared moments from yourself and your friends. As Path is like a journal, you can choose a favorite photo as your “cover,” as well as a user photo. To make a post, you press the “+” icon in the lower left corner to fly open a simple set of six icons. Tap the camera icon to post a photo (either from the Gallery or taken by your camera). Tap the person icon to make a post showing who you are with. A map pinpoint icon lets you post a location with a comment. The music icon lets you search for a favorite song. A thought bubble lets you post only a thought, and a moon icon lets you tell others when you’ve gone to sleep or woken up. With each, you can include a message, and others can comment. Some of the choices let you enter multiple data: if you choose the “location” icon, you can include the persons you are with and your brief message. Likewise, the camera icon lets you add persons you are with, as well as your location and message.
Due to its lightweight nature, Path seems to operate very quickly. Outside of my connection issues, I rarely encountered any type of delay in posting. It is simple to use, which encourages its use. You can also cross-post to Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook if you so choose, and you can “lock” a post to make it private. You cannot post from a desktop computer (that I can tell), but you can view your moment from a browser and answer a comment if you know the link to it. (If you cross-post to Twitter, you can retrieve the link from that post.)
As Path has only been around since November 2010, it is not quite as popular yet, and still has a few features to work the kinks out of. For instance, Automatic (posting) does not work yet on my phone, although I do have an option to turn it off in my settings.
I only have a couple of minor complaints. First…iTunes? Really?? Those of us who listen outside the Top 40 have trouble finding matching songs no matter which search criteria we use. And even some popular bands are not represented very well. With companies such as Amazon offering a much broader selection of MP3 files, there is no reason to use a service that has such a limited selection.
The other complaint is actually quite annoying. For location data, it seems that Path pulls its data from Foursquare, and it is highly flawed, as most “crowdsourced” data can be. If I am sitting inside an actual restaurant, for instance, not only does it not appear on top of the list of locations, it doesn’t appear in the list at all. Nine times out of ten, I have to manually type in a search to find the location…if I can find it. Often, I find a lot of “user contributed” data that I’m told comes in via Foursquare. I have seen ridiculous entries such as the “smoking break” location of a restaurant employee. Here is where Google’s verified business data would be a far better option.
Additional sharing options would be helpful as well–sharing the updates with Google+ would be a big help, as it would save me having to check in using one additional app.
Overall, Path has been a fun diversion, and helps make up for the loss of Gowalla. It is nice to see a concise timeline of some of your closest friends.