Facebook wants to put a camera in your living room

Gerald Bowen
October 9, 2018

Facebook also says that cameras in the Portal and Portal+ come with a cover that should give an assurance to people that Facebook is not watching their moves. Curiously, you won't be able to use the Portal to send or receive Facebook messages, nor are there other communication apps, such as WhatsApp or Skype.

"Our goal is to make you feel present in the same space as the person on the other end", said Rafa Camargo, the Facebook vice president overseeing Portal. These features have raised some eyebrows, given that Facebook revealed two weeks ago the data of at least 50 million users had been compromised due to vulnerabilities in its own system.

Look out Google, Apple and Amazon.

Analysts reacted cautiously to the announcement, saying Facebook was late to the smart speaker market.

Facebook is a software company famous for pushing out products quickly and adjusting later depending on the level of uproar. In addition, a number of Portal's features are opt-in, and there is no video recording feature. Facebook is pitching it as a device that will make Messenger video calls easier and "more like hanging out". As an example, if you have a Portal set up in your kitchen and are chatting with someone while you make dinner, the camera will follow you around the room as best it can so you are always viewable by whomever you're chatting with.

Since Echo's release almost four years ago, both Google and Apple have followed Amazon in releasing smart speakers designed for use with their other digital services - some of them, at least.

Facebook is emphasizing using Portal and Portal Plus for video calls. Portal includes no facial recognition technology, a built-in physical shutter for the camera, the camera and microphone can be disabled with the tap of a button, and even the camera-tracking feature runs entirely on-device.

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Portal also supports music and video services, such as Facebook Watch, Food Network, Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Newsy and more are said to be on the way.

After lengthy rumours Facebook has finally announced Portal, their answer to the Amazon Echo Show. The company says you can completely disable the camera and microphone whenever you want, and it doesn't listen to any of your video calls, either.

The standard Portal smart speaker features a 10.1-inch 720p display with 10W speakers, and is priced at $199.

Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the United States - from Facebook at portal.facebook.com, as well as Amazon and Best Buy - and will begin shipping in November.

Portal, and a larger 15-inch Portal+ model, is billed by Facebook has a smart home device created to let users make calls to friends and family. You get $100 off if you buy any two devices, and they'll ship at some point in November.

Click below to pre-order your Facebook Portal or Facebook Portal Plus today!

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