A new iPhone application and social network, Path, has introduced a new and different approach to sharing photos online. Unlike traditional social media networks such as Facebook and Flickr, Path is intended to create a more personal social network by deliberately limiting the number of friends that a user can interact with. Defined as “The Personal Network,” Path allows users to take pictures with their iPhone camera and share them online with a small and select group of friends and family members without having to worry about managing large friend lists and potentially complex privacy settings. Path limits each user’s social connections to no more than 50 other Path users, focusing on maintaining a small circle of personal friends and family members that users can feel comfortable sharing personal moments with.
Path is designed to capture specific moments, organizing photos as a realtime stream instead of photo albums. To this end the application only supports taking photos from the iPhone camera rather than sharing existing pictures from the photo library. Users can add context by tagging photos with people, places and things and friends can view photos on a map. Path also provides realtime feedback on which friends have seen photos to encourage further interaction. The current version of Path is compatible only with iPhone devices running iOS 4.0 or later—notably it does not presently run even on the camera-equipped fourth-generation iPod touch. Path is available from the App Store as a free download.