Facebook wants people to invite its cameras into their homes
08 Oct 2018- 15:55
09 October, 2018, 11:14
Facebook has just announced that its long-awaited video chat devices Portal and Portal+ are now available to preorder in the USA, with shipping due to commence in November. The smaller of the two options, the Portal, offers a 10-inch display, while the Portal+ jumps up to a 15-inch display that can pivot between portrait and landscape modes. The two devices have a focus on video calling via Messenger but they also come equipped with Amazon's Alexa assistant so you can get other tasks done such as checking the weather, controlling smart home devices, and more.
Facebook is promising its listening and video-capturing device for homes called Portal will safeguard consumer privacy, and that there won't be any ads on it - for now.
As for privacy, Facebook claims they're taking it very seriously.
The Portal and Portal+ are new video calling devices which feature built-in speakers and large touchscreens.
Portal is powered by an AI camera that "stays with the action" and automatically zooms to keep people in the frame.
Your friends don't need to own a Portal to receive your calls; as long as they have Facebook Messenger on their smartphone or tablet, you're good to go, with up to seven different people on one call. Both models come with screens and cameras, as Facebook wants customers to use them for video calls.
But at a time when CEO Zuckerberg's privacy and security decisions are a matter of congressional inquiry, how many people will trust one in their living room? A camera cover can be used to hide the camera away, and there's also a way to prevent video and sound recording.
The company worked with a United States film director in order to make the camera movements feel natural, said Nick Fell, marketing director for the Portal team. Portal costs $199 and Portal+ is $349. Because the screen pivots, you can have chats in both landscape and portrait mode, unlike the vanilla Facebook Portal which is created to sit in landscape mode only.
You can completely disable the camera and microphone with a single tap.
Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the U.S. and will begin shipping in November. The first is simply called Portal and features a 10-inch display with a resolution of 1280 x 800.
While the contents of Portal video calls are encrypted, Facebook does collect call logs from the device. "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. On top of that, a screen passcode lets you prevent unauthorized use.
Portal represents Facebook's first serious foray into selling consumer hardware outside of its virtual reality brand Oculus, which it acquired for $2 billion in 2014.
Plenty of people will scoff at the idea of bringing a Facebook-made smart display into their homes, especially ones with cameras and mics.
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. However, Amazon's and Google's smart displays do much more than make video calls-namely, they integrate with other services, many of which are unique to their parent companies.
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