Facebook pushes into smart home space with Portal - a camera-equipped speaker

Facebook pushes into smart home space with Portal - a camera-equipped speaker

Facebook pushes into smart home space with Portal - a camera-equipped speaker

One cool feature of the new Portal devices is that they enable shared activities; so, for example, you can listen to music or watch TV shows with the person you're calling, with Facebook teaming up with Spotify, Pandora, Food Network, and more.

The main difference between the Facebook Portal+ and standard Portal is size, as the latter sports a fairly easy to maneuver 10.1-inch display, while the Plus version bumps that up to a gargantuan, portrait to landscape-rotating 15.6 inches. As you might expect, its main objective is to connect you with other Facebook users via Messenger; say "Hey Portal" to start a video call.

London- Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant which is aiming for a slice of the smart speaker market that is now dominated by Amazon and Google.

The Portal is available for preorder online and will arrive in stores in November.

Would you like to get published on Standard Media websites? Facebook says it and your friends can't look into your house anytime they want: Video chats have to be explicitly accepted before the camera cuts on.

But the Portal, reportedly delayed from an earlier launch by the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, will pay an extra price for Facebook's years of playing fast and loose with our privacy. You can completely disable the camera and microphone with just a single tap, and both the Portal and Portal+ come with a camera cover to easily block the lens at any time. Facebook is also providing users with the option to set a 4 to 12-digit passcode for Portal before anyone can use it.

Portal also comes with Amazon Alexa built in. 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).

The real head-scratching thing about the Portal is that while you'll be able to use it to browse your Facebook photos and videos and check the weather, Facebook's laser focus on video calling means you won't be able to view other tenets of the core Facebook experience such as the News Feed using the Portal. You can ask the device questions by using the voice command, 'Hey Portal'.

On Monday, Facebook unveiled the $200 Portal, the first-ever consumer hardware from the world's largest social network.

That said, Facebook says Portal does not collect any information about people's home, listening only for voice commands.

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

The device includes what Facebook calls Smart Camera and Smart Sound technology, which uses artificial intelligence to automatically pan and zoom the camera to keep everyone speaking in view, while Smart Sound minimises background noise and enhances the voice of whoever is speaking to improve call quality. You can start a video call by saying "Hey Portal" and then say who you'd like to call. The Portal, which features a smaller 10-inch screen, costs $199 while the Portal+, which has a larger 15.6-inch screen, costs $349. They are the first Facebook-branded hardware products.

The Portal Plus device can also swivel into vertical orientation, similar to how people are used to viewing and video-calling through their phones.

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