Path 3.0 for iOS adds two major features to the private social network. The first is the ability to privately message your fellow users, and the second is The Shop, part of Path’s ongoing effort to monetize its app.

The instant messaging feature of the new app introduces messages with the ability to send voice, text, stickers locations and more. The Shop has a bunch of premium photo filters (which were offered before, but not in a focused ‘shop’) and stickers designed by artists.

Here’s what the new private messaging system looks like:

IMG 1904 Path 3.0 adds private messaging and The Shop, with handcrafted stickers and premium photo filters

You can send messages with locations, stickers, songs, books, movies, photos and videos in them. The messaging protocol supports single messages or group messaging. I’ve been playing with it for a bit and, unsurprisingly, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Path does an amazing job with the app, polishing until it always feels snappy and wonderful to use.

Here’s the new shop, which features purchasable stickers for your messaging needs:

IMG 1902 Path 3.0 adds private messaging and The Shop, with handcrafted stickers and premium photo filters IMG 1901 Path 3.0 adds private messaging and The Shop, with handcrafted stickers and premium photo filters

The stickers have been put together in collections called ‘packs’ that run $1.99 and contain  a dozen or more stickers. Two packs are free with the latest update and Path says that it has worked with artists like David Lanham, Hugh Macleod and Richard Perez to make more packs that you can snag via the shop.

path Path 3.0 adds private messaging and The Shop, with handcrafted stickers and premium photo filters

The Shop is also wonderfully designed and detailed. A clever note has the sticker packs swing on their ‘hooks’ as you tilt your device. This kind of thing takes nothing away from the usability and adds all of the delight in the world.

Obviously it’s easy to look at the stickers as something silly and minor. But it does offer a path (ahem) for users to take when they want to reward the makers of an app in some manner. All too often an app is offered for free, with no recourse for compensation but ads or some crap in-app purchase that makes you feel bad in the morning. Offering a delightful array of (essentially) pieces of art to purchase does one better than that. Anyone who uses Path regularly and loves it would probably feel pretty good about buying artwork and supporting the app at the same time.

The question, of course, is whether this kind of support will make a real monetary difference for Path, which will need a sustainable source of revenue if it is to survive. Of course, all of this could have been avoided if a subscription or simply a flat rate had been applied from the beginning, but the tradeoffs was made for growth, and now a way out must be found.

There’s also the matter of messaging as a tap on the shoulder. Path has continuously had issues with user retention and having messaging grab your attention from outside the app and pull you in is a good way to increase the reasons you have for opening the app. And the more you open it, the less likely you are to forget how pretty it is.

➤ Path for iOS

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