Message boards still have relevance today, but their popularity has waned in the face of changing social networks and platforms. For example, a traditional message board will still gain a community following, but not in the numbers of Reddit, which maintains a wider appeal.
Ellis Hamburger of The Verge used Reddit as an example of the format Rooms will follow, but it isn’t entirely accurate as a comparison. Reddit is a totally anonymous community that works based on subreddits, which either have to gain front page/mainstream popularity, or else be directly searched for in order to join up.
Rooms, on the other hand, are not anonymous, and they create little hubs based on interest that each member has to be individually invited to by another member. Think mini chat boards with strict security settings.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this mobile app is the fact that it is not at all connected to Facebook. The developer, Josh Miller, has been adamant about that fact. You don’t connect your Facebook account (or any other social account), and providing an email address is optional. You just need a name for each Room you become a part of, allowing you to create a different identity in each group as you please.
As for the invites, they are done through QR codes. That was one thing that none of the people speculating about what Rooms would be ever thought of. You generate an QR invite and text it to someone. They save it in their images, and you give Rooms access to your gallery. Each time you open the app it will scan for new QR codes that have been added.
The reasoning for this rather bizarre inviting process became clear when Miller started talking about real world applications. Someone could print out a physical QR code, inviting someone to join a group (think your gym providing a code for members, for example), and people could take a picture. It would act as an invite from a physical source.
Rooms seems like an interesting idea, and it could slowly take off. But it could be a sign that Facebook has finally (finally!) changed their tactics on developing independent message systems. At least this one isn’t another IM clone.