Facebook Enters the Smart Speaker Foray With the Announcement of Portal

Facebook Introduces AR Enhanced Video Calling Devices

Portal, and a larger 15-inch Portal+ model, have been launched by Facebook as a smart home device created to let users make calls to friends and family.

The primary on many consumers' minds is the underlying question of whether we should even trust a company like Facebook to have smart devices in our homes.

This was reported on the website of the company. The company stressed user privacy in the announcement, touting a smart camera that does not work with Facebook's services and promising that the company does not listen to, view or keep video calls.

The idea behind the portal is to make you feel connected to your loved ones by providing a casual at home video call with voice and video clarity. That isn't all as the Portal too is powered by Alexa, though the Amazon smart digital assistant has a vastly curtailed role here on the Facebook device.

The Portal, which is equipped with a 10-inch 1280x800 display, can let users video chat with their families and friends over Facebook Messenger, while the Portal + has a 15-inch 1920x1080 pivoting display.

This week will see three new ones in the US: Facebook just unveiled the Portal, Amazon opened pre-orders for the second generation Echo Show, and Google is (at this writing) hours away from unveiling the Google Home Hub.

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The camera on the Portal is also backed by smart software that enables it to follow users as they move around in their homes, thereby ensuring the user is always in focus. Group calls are also available up to six people.

When you turn on Home and Away, Portal will use your mobile phone and Portal's location to know when you're home and available to call.

With this, you can call Facebook friends and connections on Messenger even if they don't have Portal.

Whether people are cooking in the kitchen or chasing the kids around the living room, Smart Camera stays with the action and automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view. Facebook planned to announce what has become the Portal (formerly code-named "Aloha" at Facebook) at its annual developer conference, F8, in San Jose, California, on May 1, according to Bloomberg. Facebook says, both models are designed for making video chats feel less like a call, and more like you're actually in the same room. Around 50 million Facebook user accounts were exposed by hackers who used an exploit to take over the accounts, the company announced on September 28. Video and voice calls are encrypted and contents of them are not stored, the company said.

Portal integrates technology from Amazon's Alexa, enabling users to utilize Portal as they would utilize Alexa. Facebook sends voice commands to its servers after users say "Hey Portal" to wake up the device, and that voice history can be deleted from a Facebook Activity Log. Facebook came out on Monday with its video portal.

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