Path for iPad looks a lot like Path for smartphones (in portrait mode).

But in landscape, its interface changes entirely.

It creates multimedia tiles from all of the stories in your feed.

That includes locations, photos, music, and even Nike+ runs.

Click on any tile, and a smooth animation brings up the post, complete with comments.

The effect is a seamless way to explore your social media feed, without the endless list.

Co.Design

Path’s First iPad App Is Like A Photo Smorgasbord

How does one of the world’s most beautiful social-networking apps handle tablets? With more pictures.

Its early privacy controversies aside, Path has been a model of a wonderfully articulated user interface on mobiles. Its latest iPhone/Android app has all the visual simplicity of Instagram, coupled with all the backend check-in and mixed media support of Facebook.

Now, Path has just released its long-promised iPad app. What you may expect it to be--Path on a slightly bigger screen--is there through and through. The same basic scrolling navigation, the same status updates, even the same fundamental menus and settings are fully intact. Somewhat strangely, however, the app splits about half the screen to always have your settings panel up. With so much of the screen dedicated to housekeeping, your traditional feed borders on an afterthought, but maybe for good reason.

Because the biggest, best change is Life in Landscape mode. Whereas Path on smartphones works only in portrait mode, Path on iPads supports landscape, too. But when you turn the device, the columns aren’t simply reformatted wider; your day’s feed is completely reimagined as a truly beautiful montage of photographic tiles. Swipe right and see the day before. You can continue swiping as far back as you’d like.

In terms of rendering/caching speed alone, it’s a bit of an engineering feat. But more than that, you get to experience a very satisfying snippet of each day, rather than another list, assembled from activity tiles from all of your friends. You’ll notice that some of these tiles are images, others are movies, while others can even be GPS locations or Nike+ runs. When you click any of these windows, the story goes full screen in a seamless animation. You can see the comments on a photo from last week, or preview a track someone listened to months ago. (Note: my stills are a bit sparse compared to their max capacity since I don’t really use Path.)

It’s a content-is-king approach to UI, passing even Pinterest’s photo-heavy aesthetic to create something similar to what we see in Microsoft’s Metro. Nearly every frame and flourish of the desktop melts away, and you’re left with a buffet of visual delight.

And that buffet metaphor is an apt one. Like a steaming vat of chicken marsala next to a lukewarm plate of smoked salmon, Path’s tile sizing and arrangement of content is largely meaningless, just expecting you to munch on what you like. I can’t help but to wonder if this randomness is a lost opportunity--if larger images could cater to my predicted topical interests (like buffets, obviously) or popular stories that many of my friends have liked. But at the same time, it’s as if the company is making a statement: “It’s up to you to explore and care about what your friends are up to. We just enable it.”

Download Path for iPad here.

Path’s cofounder and CEO, David Morin, will be speaking at Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored conference in San Francisco this week.

[Hat tip: TNW]

[Image: Everett Collection via Shutterstock]

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3 Comments

  • Scot Przybylski

    The app is and has been a UX / UI dream and the idea of archiving and curating your life with up to 50 of your closest friends is a good one but a good idea is only as good as the people that get behind it. A base of two million in two years seems like a lot but is not enough to keep me using the app on a regular basis as most of my closest friends have chosen different Paths.  

  • jonfoxphoto

    The app might work great *if* you know people who use it. I've been on PAth for over a year. I have a network of about 25 people. Only one uses it regularly. As a result, all I see in this app is the cluttered portrait view and in the landscape view a single map, or a "no messages" graphic on each day. There's no context to get from one view to the other. The second version of Path was fantastic, but since then it has become over cluttered, unintuitive and a ghost town, which makes this app all the more useless.

  • bar

    I read the article twice and now know that the app - some company's first - is wonderful. It's also great in landscape mode, and apparently an engineering marvel when it come to cashing speed. I have, however, just what the hell this app does. But it's OK, it can happen when you take press releases for news and try to pass them off a story. Great reporting.