Facebook launches first Electronic Device - Portal

Facebook Introduces AR Enhanced Video Calling Devices

Facebook launches Portal and Portal+ video call devices

Since Amazon 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. The Portal+ also has a 1080p screen while its smaller counterpart sports the standard 720p. As you might expect, its main goal is to connect you with other Facebook users via Messenger; say "Hey Portal" to start a video call. The first gadget is Portal 10.1 inches and the second gadget is Portal Plus size of 15.6 inches and the other side both come with the same custom processor and software, but couldn't look more different from outside.

Portal and Portal+ are now available for pre-order for $199 and $349 respectively, with shipping scheduled for November.

"Like other voice-enabled devices, Portal only sends voice commands to Facebook servers after you say, "hey Portal".

Not a fully functional computer yet, this is somehow dwarfed by likes of it, say, Echo Show or Google Smart Displays.

We should mention that another reason why people don't want to have Facebook Portal in their homes is because of the recent Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal that caused Facebook's stocks and user base to plummet. More recently, Facebook revealed that hackers managed to pierce its security to break into 50 million accounts.

Facebook also clarified about the information Portal would collect and how the company will use the information. The Portal will also support voice command, similar to home speakers such as Amazon's Echo or Google Home.

There were 17 billion video calls on Messenger in 2017, double the number in 2016, according to official data.

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To make a call, you simply begin with, "Hey Portal".

Portal, of course, is not quite an original device. The camera can be blocked by a cover and the device has a button for disabling the lens and microphone.

The Spark AR platform is also being incorporated, which is aimed at making video calls more fun and interactive. The company has been working on video conference hardware for some time but made a decision to put the project on hold earlier this year because of public outrage about Facebook's data-privacy practices.

The primary on many consumers' minds is the underlying question of whether we should even trust a company like Facebook to have smart devices in our homes.

Around 32% of consumers owned a smart speaker in August 2018, according to a survey of over 1,000 USA consumers by Adobe Analytics.

Facebook says it does not record, listen to, view or otherwise analyse the content of calls on its servers, and the data involved is encrypted. It costs 1,699 yuan (US$250), has a 8-inch screen, and also lets users make video calls and watch videos on iQiyi... which is unusual, because iQiyi is owned by Baidu, but JD.com is owned by Tencent - you'd think they'd use Tencent Video instead.

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