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Facebook Launches Portal Smart Display

10 October, 2018, 10:23 | Author: Arnold Gilbert
  • Facebook Launches Portal and Portal Plus

After that privacy nightmare, rumors claimed that Facebook would be pushing back plans to launch the Portal ecosystem to later this year. Featuring a 10-inch 1280 x 800 display, Portal from Facebook improves video calling hands and distraction free. "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. But the devices also come with built-in support for Amazon's Alexa, so you can talk to the Portal as you might the Echo Show.

First going on sale in the U.S. in November, Portal will come with a 10in display for video calls, or a 15in display on the Portal+.

The Portal family includes two variants, the Portal and Portal+. The video calling looks impressive-you can move around the room while you are talking and the camera will follow you. If you want to try and get oen for yourself anyway, with some importing methods, they'll cost $199 (£152) and $349 (£268) respectively.

Now, Facebook is trying to get consumers to trust the company with a device that contains its own hardware, microphone and camera in the middle of their homes, so it's no wonder Facebook is stressing the privacy features, such as ways to disable the mic and cover the camera. On top of that, a screen passcode lets you prevent unauthorized use.

Facebook also mentioned that it doesn't "listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls" and that calls are encrypted, making them more secure. Plus, the AI tech runs locally, it reports, and the camera doesn't use facial recognition or identify users.

The speaker comes integrated with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant technology, which provides an always-listening service for initiating these calls amid other functions like setting reminders and ordering groceries. You can't browse Facebook or Instagram on it, or even visit the web (you also can't watch video content on it via Youtube). Portal connects calls through Facebook's Messenger app, meaning that it can connect calls with people who aren't using Portal.

Facebook Launches Portal and Portal Plus
Facebook introduces Portal and Portal+ with prices starting at $199

Facebook servers are only contacted when you say "Hey Portal". You can delete your Portal's voice history in your Facebook Activity Log at any time. In addition, a number of Portal's features are opt-in, and there is no video recording feature.

The smaller Portal is an Amazon Echo Show style device, which is basically a giant display with a speaker. By shipping the Portal with Alexa, Facebook might be proactively avoiding a controversy about data collection.

Facebook Portal comes in two display sizes: Portal, which is 10 inches, and Portal Plus, which is a whopping 15 inches. While some might find that creepy, Facebook says the goal is to show people they don't have to be stuck in front of the screen to communicate.

However, the second version of Portal - called Portal Plus - is a whole different beast. Facebook partnered with Spotify Premium, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Food Network, and Newsy - and it promised to add more soon.

Both speakers feature large displays and cameras to facilitate video calling and other communication functionality. By purposefully excluding many features, the Portal becomes purely a music-playing and video-chatting device.

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