Rooms, an interactive 3D space designer and ‘cozy game,’ arrives on the App Store

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Cozy game, interior decorating app, learn-to-code primer or something in between, the interactive, 3D spaces builder known as Rooms has made its way to the App Store. The startup, which earlier raised $10 million in seed funding led by a16z, offers a way to design 3D spaces — its “rooms” — that are filled with furniture, décor, pets and tiny avatars. You can turn those rooms into mini-games, if you prefer.

The purpose of Rooms is merely to create and explore design, which is something many people find relaxing. However this “digital equivalent of LEGO,” as the company has described it, also has an educational aspect to it.

First launched on the web earlier this year, the project was inspired by co-founder Jason Toff’s work in Google’s AR/VR division, including its now-shuttered VR and AR app-building service Poly and the 3D modeling tool for VR, Blocks. His co-founder Bruno Oliveira also worked with him at Google, while co-founder Nick Kruge’s background includes time at Smule, Umber and Google’s YouTube.

The idea with Rooms is to offer open-ended play where people use their designs as a form of self-expression. But you don’t only have to interact with the objects in a visual format — you also can click to reveal the code to further customize the times using Lua, the coding language also used in Roblox. That has helped introduce coding concepts to younger users. In fact, Toff tells TechCrunch, a number of schools have been picking up Rooms as a means of introducing kids to coding, as an alternative to something like code.org.

Other users simply enjoy decorating their 3D spaces for fun.

“[Rooms users] want to decorate a room for the calming effects of just placing things and editing it. There’s this whole movement that I’ve learned about… cozy games,” Toff explains. Cozy games are those that people play without an end goal, they’re just for relaxing and unwinding. “People are making the rooms for the sake of making the rooms.”

To that end, there are quite a few rooms that are Taylor Swift tributes or those built by K-pop fans, for example. Some people interconnect their rooms and a few turn them into tiny, interactive games. Some people spend a lot of time on their rooms, designing what almost appear to be professionally thought-out spaces that could serve as templates for real-world interior designs.

Image Credits: Rooms

With the iOS app, launching today, Rooms offers a TikTok-style vertically scrolling feed where you can check out the different rooms made by the community. There are multiple feeds to choose from, including a “For You” feed — which will later be algorithmic but is currently more curated — as well as an Editor’s Picks feed and a Recent feed. As you scroll the feed, you can like and share favorite rooms, or you can enter a camera mode to take a snapshot of the room — which then alerts the creator. That picture can then be added to your own room, as décor.

Image Credits: Rooms

You can also design your rooms from scratch using the more than 6,000 items in Rooms’ catalog, up from 1,000 when it launched on the web. The company first seeded its community with 1,000 Voxel 3D objects it commissioned from creators, which can be customized in your space.

Other people’s rooms can be remixed, too — that is, used as a template for your own designs. (Attribution to the original creator automatically follows when you remix, Toff notes.)

Image Credits: Rooms

As you decorate your space, you can enter an editing mode where you can customize anything — like the size, shape, color, glow, opacity, pattern and behavior of the items. You can even add media to an object, like putting a photo of your cat on the TV screen or a painting, for example. Or you can use an OpenAI-powered tool to generate an image that is displayed on the object.

The new iOS app works both on iPhone and iPad, but Toff says the iPhone is better for browsing than creation.

“It works even better on iPad. You can code, but I wouldn’t recommend coding on iPhone because it’s just like a tiny screen. There’s not enough room,” he notes.

Image Credits: Rooms

Since Rooms’ beta launch on the web, the company has registered more than 40,000 users who have since created over 50,000 rooms. Its daily active users range in the thousands, as well.

In the future, Rooms may look to AI to aid in room design, but the company is treading carefully here. After adding the generative AI feature to the product, some members of the community weren’t happy.

“Surprisingly…there was an interesting pushback,” Toff says. “I don’t know if it’s the audience or age or what, but more than I expected, were repulsed by the existence of AI…but I think, practically, it should be easier to make rooms and it would be silly to not use AI to help you create rooms,” he adds. A time frame for adding AI, however, is still unknown. For now, the company is focused on launching its mobile app and growing its user base.

Toff says the app is really more of a beta and it will continue to iterate on the experience over time, based on user feedback.

“We want to learn from and with users. We put it out a little earlier than it being perfect,” he admits.

The iOS app for Rooms is available now on the App Store.

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