Path Talk (iOS|Android) is a companion app for the Path social network, which lets you chat and share your whereabouts with fellow Path Talk users. But a new Places feature in the app -- available "first" in the US and Canada, according to the company -- might be the thing to put this underused chat client back on the map.
Path has had some success with its social platform, but its usage has declined lately, with it currently hosting 5 million daily users. When you compare that number with's 600 million users, it seems safe to say you might have a hard time finding friends who use the app on a regular basis.
However, a recent update has added a new feature that has the potential to put Path Talk on nearly all must-have app lists for both iOS and Android users alike. The feature is called Places, and lets you send a message to nearby businesses to ask a question, make a reservation or even place an order all through the app -- free of charge.
Setup and adding friends
Setup requires a Path account. For those who currently have the Path app installed and are logged in to it, you're automatically signed in to Path Talk upon first launch. Former Path users who've abandoned the platform can sign in using an existing account, while new users will need to provide an email address and phone number and create a password to begin using the app.
Friends you've already added in the Path app will show up in the People section of the Path Talk app. You also can let Path Talk scan your address book to find and add contacts who've signed up for Path Talk. Alternatively, you can send a message to any user using a username or phone number and he or she will be added.
The initial appeal of Path was that it took a smaller, more personal approach to what a social-networking service should be. The app initially limited your friend count to 50, but after user feedback the limit was later raised to 150. It's nice to see Path do away with friend count limitations for Path Talk, making it possible to chat with as many people as you'd like. And adding contacts to Path Talk does not automatically add them to your Path account, where you're likely to want to still have a smaller social circle.
Short message life
With the successhas seen due to its ephemeral approach to messaging, it makes sense for other apps to adopt a similar approach. With Path Talk, any messages in your conversations to friends are deleted from the conversation as well as Path's servers after 24 hours.
The shortened shelf life is meant to help you feel as though your conversations are private, but it doesn't stop others from taking screenshots to save the conversation (taking screenshots actually recommended on Path's FAQ site as a way to keep conversations).
With Path Talk's waning userbase, however, the breakout feature in the latest update is Places. It's so useful that it's worth having the app on your home screen just for Places.
Using Places you can send a message to local businesses, asking a routine question such as, "What time do you close?" or a more specific question such as if a particular item is in stock or not.