Social network Path updated its Path Talk app today with the ability to text businesses. Powered by TalkTo, a company Path bought back in June, the service lets you ask businesses questions via text and you’ll receive an answer within ten minutes. It’s like having a personal assistant.
The way Path Talk connects you to businesses is delightfully old school. You look up a business under the Places tab in the app and type in your question. A human will then look up the information for you by calling or searching the internet and return the answer to you within five to ten minutes.
Path Talk features its own database of businesses but also leverages Foursquare to look up places and phone numbers. This makes looking up basic information like phone number or store hours quite simple. But then so is searching the internet for the answer.
What makes Path Talk’s business integration useful is for acheiving tedious tasks you wouldn’t want to do yourself. Ellis Hamburger of The Verge asked how long the line was at a Chipotle restaurant. A Path agent confirmed the question and alerted Hamburger that he or she tried twice but received no response. If he had called himself, he would have wasted those precious minutes himself.
While this feature is certainly interesting, it may not be enough to make users jump to Path Talk as a messaging app. Many simple questions can already be answered quickly by using Siri, Google Now or looking it up on the internet. Path Talk faces an uphill battle trying to differentiate itself from popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts. It’ll be interesting to see whether users actually find Path Talk’s new business messaging feature useful or if they’ll forget about it once the novelty wears off.
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