Facebook on Thursday released a new standalone app, called Rooms.
At first blush, Rooms might seem pretty similar to Slack. The latter application is used for groups and companies to communicate: You can talk in a group chat room, dropping in text, pictures, videos, and links, and you can also privately message people.
Facebook’s Rooms is also about chatting with groups of people, but it’s more casual than that. The evolution of Josh Miller’s group blogging platform Branch (purchased by Facebook for ~$US15 million in January), Rooms lets users create forums for content they’re interested in, and you invite people to groups by sharing a QR code with them, which they use as a key into the chat room by taking a screenshot with their phone.
Like Slack, Rooms can be public or private, and you can post similar content. Their purposes might be a bit different — Slack is for true group collaboration, whereas Rooms is for informal chatting with friends and strangers about topics you’re all interested in — but there are several parallels between the two apps, both visually and conceptually.
We reached out to Slack to see what the company thought of Facebook’s latest creation. It provided us the following statement:
We’re happy to see the release of any product that helps people communicate. From the introduction to Rooms, it seems focused on personal communications. Slack is focused on team communication — pulling it all together into one place, making it instantly searchable and available wherever you go.
Companies and enterprises may not look to Rooms in the same way they depend on Slack for communication anytime soon. Slack is a proven product that might soon achieve a $US1 billion valuation, while Facebook’s Rooms has no current connection to Facebook, and it requires group members to scan QR codes to access a room. There’s no telling how Rooms might evolve, but two group messaging applications with similar functions and really similar icons seems like a grand coincidence.