Blog Post

Even if Path goes astray, the company has already blazed a trail in mobile design

We’ve expressed some skepticism about Path’s potential reach as a social media network, at least in proportion to the amount of hype and funding that Dave Morin’s startup has gathered over the years.

However, even if Path doesn’t make it as a long-lasting social network, it’s hard to ignore the influence the company has already had on mobile app design recently. Some of these concepts, like launching a full-featured messaging app, aren’t totally groundbreaking, but it’s remarkable how many features (like thematic search or large emojis), we’ve seen come to Path first and then show up on more mainstream apps like Facebook with features like Graph Search after the fact.

Want to see which design features came to Path before the others? Take a look at just a few:

One of the most distinctive design features on Path is the launcher button that brings up the navigation bar from the bottom left of the screen, with a series of options coming out of the primary button in a semicircle.

Last month, Tumblr announced a new version for its mobile edition on Android, and the new navigation looks remarkably similar to the Path launcher:

Path launcher bar imagetumblr launcher image path


One major feature in Path’s most recent release revolved around the addition of stickers, or large chat emojis that let users communicate through pictures.

While there’s nothing new about emojis (they’ve already become huge in Asia before they gained adoption in the U.S.), the distinctive size of the Path stickers looked remarkably similar to the stickers Facebook just launched last week:

Path emojis messaging anonymousfacebook stickers design emoji

Chat heads

Before Facebook called them Chat Heads, Path already had bubble heads that popped up for individuals. Path launched a full-featured messaging component in the company’s last release, allowing you to drop your current location, insert audio clips, and share photos. Facebook’s new messaging updates look similar too:

Path 3.0 messaging bi-ritefacebook messaging screenshot

One Response to “Even if Path goes astray, the company has already blazed a trail in mobile design”

  1. Path deserves accolades for its brilliant and revolutionary design. It also gets major bonus points for being an all-mobile social network — something few other competitors have been to accomplish.

    That said, I think the company’s direction is leading it toward failure. We live in public, and an artificial constraint of 150 users — based on Dunbar’s Law, which was invented before the internet — severely limits the scope, reach, power, and meaning of Path’s content.

    That it hasn’t offered alternative forms of organizing either, say, through affinity groups, makes me think that Path may be yet another shiny toy for the Silicon Valley digierati set, and that an acquihire looks increasingly likely.

    Don’t get me wrong, though, I think that Morin and his team defined a vision and built it stunningly. The assumptions within that vision, however, may hold it back from a shifting social landscape where an upper bound of 150 connection is not so much a feature, but a bug.