Facebook has introduced Rooms, a new app adding yet another layer to social connections. Rooms isn’t like Facebook, nor is it a skinned version of like Paper. Rooms is a new way to connect and interact, where users create rooms based on interests. Though Facebook is looking back to the early days of the web as inspiration, we’d be remiss not to point out Rooms is a lot like another social service, form a different social provider. It also answers Facebook’s critics on one important front.
According to the Facebook announcement for Rooms (one of several, really — they even announced it on Tumblr), the app lets you “be whoever you want to be”, and choose “whatever name makes you feel most comfortable and proud". In the wake of their unfortunate real-name debacle that ruffled some very vocal and influential feathers, it’s interesting language for Facebook to be using.
Via Tumblr, Facebook positions Rooms as a new version of the old chat rooms and forum boards some once loved. Personally, the scheme reminds me of Google+ communities, just broken out into an app.
Rooms allows you to create a forum, based on interest, and share it with others. The room you create (or are involved in) is a stream of photos, text, and video populated by whoever shares to it. The one who creates the room has almost total control, too. Again, all very Google+-ish. There’s even a nice red plus at the bottom!
The difference? Facebook has a lot more users than Google+, which could make Rooms a bigger deal right from the start.
As unoriginal as Rooms may be, it’s got a lot of use cases, just like those chat rooms and other social services it copies. You can have a family-only room, a community room for your neighborhood, or just one about something you’re passionate about.
Facebook says Rooms will be available for sharing, and even teases a QR code method for offline sharing. It looks as though you screenshot the invite QR code sent to you, then enter a Room, which then makes the screenshot of a QR code your invitation. That makes sharing pretty personal, and gives the Room creator total control over the forum.
If you’re anxious to try Rooms, you’re not alone — and you’re not alone in being unable to download it. Like Paper, Rooms is limited to iOS. Rooms is also on iTunes, but won’t download for many users. Facebook knows about the problem, and is trying to get it sorted out.