A closed-door policy
Facebook is once again venturing into the subsidiary app world, this time with Rooms. Quite simply, Rooms is like an old school forum or a curated Instagram feed, an app that lets you create and join rooms based on specific topics, subsequently posting images, videos, and sharing notes. Rooms can range from things like street art, to food, to nail art (all pre-suggested rooms), but you could theoretically create a room about anything. You can enter a room by getting an invite from someone via text, Facebook or Twitter. You can also enter by taking a screenshot of the QR code pertaining to the room, which can be found via other social media outlets, or even within the Rooms app itself. Interestingly, there's no way to search for a room.
Once you're in, you'll see a stream of images or video which, much like Instagram, you can like or comment on. Before commenting or posting something, you'll have to create a nickname, which is unique for each room. Adding a photo is as simple as tapping the big '+' button, but I had issues adding a photo to the 'Street Art' room, which claimed to have a connection error even though I was indeed connected.
As the creator of your own room, you can choose its color and set a wallpaper, as well as customize the 'like' button with your own emoticon and phrase, a unique feature which I think is pretty cool.
No window of opportunity
Despite a clean interface, I don't really see the need for an app like Rooms. Once again, it seems as if Facebook is pushing a product whose alternatives have already firmly saturated the market. On top of that, its difficult navigability makes it more cumbersome to use than the alternatives.
For starters, opening the app left me in total confusion. Only when I realized that I had to click on the 'Recommend Rooms' and take a screenshot of the QR code to join the room did I see anything of value. Even then, the app doesn't seem to offer anything you can't already get on Instagram or Pinterest, and forum apps like Tapatalk do a much better job of helping you view multiple forums. The "anonymous chat" function of the app is more like Reddit commentators than it is a chat feature.
To my surprise though, you don't need a Facebook login to set it up. You don't even need to provide an email address unless you want to keep your identity across different devices. What I find strange is the need to create a nickname in each room, ensuring that each room has somewhat of a 'closed door policy'.
Shut the door
Rooms seems like an unnecessary addition to a slew of apps that Facebook is trying to push. While it could be a cool idea to mix with other social media as a promotional campaign, to maybe go to a room to check out the latest products for example, I don't think Rooms adds much value to the social media and photo app market.