“Great in its own right and a good cross-poster, but with other networks dominating, it may go sadly unused.”Free
Its problem is a familiar one to anyone who’s read our reviews of social media apps before: in order for it to be useful, people you know have to be using it. But while most services like this rely on the network effect to snowball as big as they can as fast as they can, Path actively encourages you to add only a few people to your list of friends. The idea is that by keeping the group small – true friends and close family – you’ll share a different kind of information than if you were posting to Twitter (which is usually public) or even Facebook (where there’s a chance you’ll accept friend requests even from someone you spoke to once on a different floor of your office). Stuff that might seem either too personal or too trivial to a wider audience might be much more relevant and interesting for people who really care about you.
And Path lets you post a broad variety of things: status updates and photos of course, but also music you’re listening to, check-ins, when you went to sleep and woke up (no, us neither…) and other news, such as automatically posting when you arrive in a new city. You see all these updates in a stream from the people who’ve let you access their stuff, and you can comment on everything – or just flag them with an emoticon, which is a nice extension of Facebook’s Like button.
Posting is quick and slick, and you can easily toggle to cross-post to Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Tumblr. Yes, we’d like to see it on iPad, but the iPhone is such a natural, always-with-you device from which to share and connect with friends all over the world that it makes sense for Path to be on the iPhone.
There just remains one problem: social networks need people to use them, and at the moment, most of what we see people using Path for is to selectively cross-post to other networks. And that’s fine – we’re just disappointed that we, nor others, haven’t transitioned yet to using Path as it was intended.
Nevertheless, it’s a really pleasing app to use, even if you’ll just use it as a way of keeping other social networks updated. But if you think it sounds like the perfect way to let iPhone-owning family members see the development of your new baby, say, it’s definitely worth downloading. The momentum of your existing social networks may prove too much to switch you to Path wholesale, however.