Coverstory, Path’s baffling new feature

This week Path introduced a new feature called Coverstory, and published a whole 33 words of introduction on its blog. After a few days of use I can see why: it’s an interesting feature with baffling execution. Here’s a look.

Taking a cue from Instagram and Snapchat, Coverstory lets Path users record and share 10 seconds worth of video that disappears after 24 hours. You can add music and text and, once a video is shared, see a preview in place of your cover photo. If someone you’re following publishes a Coverstory, a number appears next to a new pink play button on your cover photo. That’s the same button you tap to record a Coverstory video, which is where the problems begin.

recordbuttonThe first time you launch the app after updating, a pop-up window briefly explains the new feature. Dismiss it and find the pink play button on your cover photo. Tap it to move to the record screen (right).

The top half of the screen is a video preview. Beneath that are icons representing how many active videos you and your followers have published as well as a big record button. Tap the “+” to begin recording.

When you’re done shooting, you can add one of 17 music tracks. From there, hit publish and you’re done. Kind of.

There’s nothing in the timeline to indicate that you, or someone you follow, has published a Coverstory. Which is extremely odd, as that’s where all updates appear. The timeline is where users are trained to look for news. Instead, when someone you follow publishes a Coverstory, a small “1” appears in the pink play button on your cover photo. The first time I saw this I was very confused, as I thought it indicated I had published a video when I hadn’t.

Additionally, Coverstory videos can take several seconds to begin playing. In my testing using WiFi and cellular data across three phones, I stared at a static image for up to six seconds with no progress bar, spinning gear or indication of any kind that something was happening. Many people will assume it’s not working in that amount of time and move on.

Coverstory is cute and can be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it’s confusing and apparently hasn’t sparked any enthusiasm from the Path team. I use Path daily, and I’m disappointed with this potentially compelling feature.

You’ll need Path version 6.0.2 on iOS or 4.4 on Android to try Coverstory. Here’s something odd: Path is has an average 2.5 star rating on the App Store but 4.25 on the Google Play Store. I use it on both and it’s practically identical.

Final Touches: Path

Final Touches celebrates the tiny details that make an app a delight to use. Not the marquee features, but the fun, thoughtful bits that make you smile. The final touches.

pathroad

Path for iPhone is a private social network, if you will, that lets users share messages, photos, video, and lists of beloved books, music and movies with a select group of friends and family. 1 While my interest in Path has waxed and waned, the app’s great looks have never faltered.

Path’s design team deserves kudos for its hard work on this standout app, and my favorite little bit is an animation that accompanies the share button. To post an update to your followers, tap the share button in the lower left. Five happy little icons spring forth: photo, location, music, quote or sleep. That’s great, but dismissing them is the real fun.

Tap anywhere outside of those icons and watch as they briefly spin in place before snapping back to their home beneath the share button. I’ll admit that I sometimes tap share and then dismiss the icons, just so watch them spin and disappear. It’s a fun little feature. Well done, Path.

Path apologizes, issues version 2.0.6

Dave Morin, CEO and co-founder of Path:

“So, as a clear signal of our commitment to your privacy, we’ve deleted the entire collection of user uploaded contact information from our servers. Your trust matters to us and we want you to feel completely in control of your information on Path.

In Path 2.0.6, released to the App Store today, you are prompted to opt in or out of sharing your phone’s contacts with our servers in order to find your friends and family on Path.”

Good on you. I’ll continue to use the app, giving Dave and company the benefit of the doubt.

Minor UI gripe with Path

I’ve been enjoying Path since the latest update came out. However, I’ve got a gripe with the button used to comment on another user’s update.

Basically, it almost always looks the same. As you press the button it changes color, but as soon as you let go it returns to is pre-pressed state. There’s no other feedback that the press was successful (spinning gear, etc.), and I often press it a second time, thinking that the update isn’t happening. See below.

The button only looks different when pressed, hidden by my finger

Conversely, take a look at Apple’s Messages. Before I type my message, the Send button is dark. As I type, it lights up and once the message is sent, it returns to its pre-pressed state. That way I know the press was successful and something is happening.

Ready for text entry

Typing complete, changed to its "ready to be pressed" state.

It’s a minor request, but I hope this button’s behavior changes with a forthcoming update.