Path targets its family audience with new iPad app and landscape mode

For a social networking app that’s seen significant traction among families — new moms sharing photos of their babies, or parents sharing info with their kids away at school — it only makes sense for Path to break into a new platform: Path for iPad. Scheduled to be released in the Apple(s appl) app store on Thursday morning, the new Path iPad app looks very much like the iPhone or Android versions, with some interesting tweaks for America’s favorite tablet.

Path iPad app vertical screen photos

Path is a social network founded by former Facebook and Apple employee Dave Morin and launched in November of 2010. Entirely mobile-first (the company has no desktop version), it allows users to share photos, status updates, music they’re listening to, locations, or other personal data with friends and family. Morin has said that it’s intended to be highly-private and personal information shared with a small group of friends, and the point isn’t to amass followers or fans as on other social sites. This summer, the service integrated with the Nike+ GPS running app, and has gone through several significant re-designs since its beginning.

While the horizontal view of the new iPad app looks pretty similar to the iPhone app -— it retains the sharing options, the newsfeed stream of photos and updates, and the left-hand notification stream -— flipping the iPad sideways to a landscape view presents a totally different experience.

“The iPad gets used in the morning and at night when you want to catch up on your day,” Morin explained, noting that these are also the times of day when people are using Path the most, updating close friends and family on their location or details of their day.

Path designed the landscape view to show the most popular or interesting events from the entire day, arranged in a grid pattern that’s different every time you flip to it, under the assumption that people are using Path at the end of the day to catch up on news and events.

“The landscape mode creates a whole new consumption experience,” he said. “And our algorithm tries to re-create the most interesting moments from your day.”

Tapping on individual items brings them full-screen on the iPad, providing a larger platform for exploring specific posts. For instance, tapping on a song someone listened to shows the number of people who “smiled” at that action, but also other music by that artist, and that artist’s top songs among friends and the iTunes listening population at large. Morin said that music has moved into the third most-popular news item people are sharing, after photos and thoughts, and displacing sleep (which used to be number three.)

The specific ability to share the content you’re consuming (the options are music, via iTunes, books, via iBooks, and movies, via Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes), places emphasis on content consumption in the landscape “review” mode, where items are more likely to surface if they’re received positive feedback from friends. This turns that mode into a kind of books, music, and movie review unit -— assuming your friends on Path are posting the music, books, and movies they’re tuning into.

Morin said he anticipates an uptick in iPad adoption from both current and future users, since he said Path mainly appeals to the family demographic, which has been particularly excited about the iPad and requesting the feature frequently. He said they don’t get many requests for a web version of Path, although journalists always ask him about it. He said most Path users have on average 40 to 50 friends, and they haven’t run into any issues with limiting people to 150, since people tend to self-select their closest friends to share information with. He said again and again, he hears from customers how much they like using Path among family members.

Path iPad app landscape view