Path is shaping up to be more than just the mobile-only social network it users have grown to love. On Wednesday, Path unveiled a list of brand new features – some of which we’ve seen in messaging apps, like LINE and WeChat, all of which proves that the line that once defined social networking and communication apps is steadily blurring.
The third generation of Path, dubbed Path 3, supports one-to-one and group chats, which you can initiate directly from your profile page. You’ll see a chat bubble icon in the top right corner of your screen. Open that up and you have access to your list of friends with whom you can start chatting. Push-to-talk, texting, and location tagging are also part of this build. Sounds familiar? These are some of the features Facebook was scrambling to release.
The features don’t end there though. If you open up the “plus sign” icon that pops all of the messaging features – a cleverly designed feature that makes it easy to access everything with your thumbs – you’ll find a music icon. Click on that icon and it opens up three categories: Music, Movies, and Books. The idea here is that you can share your activities with your friends. Say you’re reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to music, you can search for the media that you’re preoccupied with right now or want to share with your friends directly from Path. Clicking on the media embeds that content into your message, which the recipient can click on to find out more information. This is perfect for those times when you’re trying to explain a movie to a friend who’s too lazy to Google it. Hey, it happens.
Like its competitors, Path 3 also includes “stickers” that you can throw into your conversation. LINE has stickers, Kakao Talk has stickers, WeChat just added stickers not long ago. What’s so special about these stickers is that they are “expressive and fun, and they communicate what words can’t,” according to Path. At least, that’s the idea. The real motivation here is that stickers are a money making opportunity. (Yes, stickers cost money – about $2 for a dozen or more.) And judging from how well LINE is doing thanks to its sticker business, which LINE USA CEO Jeanie Han credited for propelling LINE into the spotlight, it’s a profitable endeavor that’s really the right move for Path. Path even has a “Shop” where you can purchase in-house designed stickers to use during your conversations, similar to what LINE offers.
Still, Path has a lot of catching up to do. With just 6 million users, it’s the underdog overshadowed by competing messaging-turned-social-networking apps that have broken 100 million users – LINE, WeChat, Nimbuzz, and Whatsapp. Kakao Talk is at 70 million users and Tango closing in. Can Path 3 keep the company from drowning under the competition? That’s for you to decide.