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Facebook unveils Portal and Portal

10 October, 2018, 10:20 | Author: Joanna Little
  • Facebook Launches Portal and Portal Plus

Facebook has launched the Portal, a new webcam focused device that also offers similar functionality to Amazon's Echo Show. With Facebook's recent privacy mishaps, are you ready to let the company see into your living room?

The company has also been heavily linked with making its own smart speaker to rival the likes of the Amazon Echo and Google Home, but no such device has yet appeared.

The company worked with a U.S. film director in order to make the camera movements feel natural, said Nick Fell, marketing director for the Portal team. You can start a video call simply by saying "Hey Portal" and noting who you'd like to call.

The device, which will be available for pre-order in the United States from Monday, is created to allow users to make video calls at home without having to stand immediately in front of the screen or hold a phone at arm´s length.

The Portal and Portal+ go up for pre-orders starting today, with the former priced at $199 and the latter at $349.

The idea behind both devices is to improve the quality of video calls, so the camera and microphone are able to adjust and optimise what they're doing based on what's going on around you.

According to Facebook you can either disable the camera and microphone with a single touch, or disable the camera with a built-in cover, while still allowing you to take incoming calls and notifications and use voice commands. Facebook is also providing users with the option to set a 4 to 12-digit passcode for Portal before anyone can use it. That means Portal users can call other Portal users, as well as those with Facebook Messenger installed on their smartphones and tablets.

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

Portal supports Amazon's Alexa voice assistant and will be sold through Amazon's website and in some of its physical stores, representing Facebook's first major partnership with Amazon. They also come with a camera cover so that one can easily cover the camera when not in use.

Just a few months after launching Snapchat competitor, Riff, a collaborative video creation app for both iOS and Android users in 2015, Facebook plugged the plug on it.However, the tech giant said that most of the features of the app had been integrated into the main Facebook app and Messenger. The Portal+ uses a 1080P display that measures 15.6 inches diagonally.

The company says Facebook's privacy policy applies to Portal, since it uses Messenger for voice and video calls. Other than that, the Facebook Portal is the first piece of consumer hardware built by the social network. You can delete your Portal's voice history in your Facebook Activity Log at any time.

With that in mind, the cameras built into Portal are created to intelligently track you as you make your calls.

Scrutiny this year over Facebook's privacy and content moderation practices have led some people to abandon the service and the company to warn of thinning profits.

The social media giant claims that it won't "listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal calls", and that all calls are encrypted for heightened security.

Users will have access to services such as Spotify Premium, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Facebook Watch, Food Network, and Newsy at launch, with more services being added later.

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