Facebook Portal: Camera-equipped home device may launch next week

Facebook Portal: Everything you need to know

Facebook is widely believed to be working on an Amazon Echo Show-rivalling video chat device for the home, called Facebook Portal.

Here’s everything we think we know about the social network’s as-yet-unannounced creation so far, including its rumoured price, features and functionality.

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Facebook Portal: Price and release date

According to a September report from Cheddar, Facebook Portal will be available in two different sizes, with the larger of the two costing around $400 (~£300), and the smaller version believed to be priced at around $300 ~(£230).

It isn’t clear when the Portal devices will come out, but the report claims they’ll be officially unveiled by Facebook at some point during the week commencing September 24.

They were reportedly originally supposed to launch at the start of May. However, Facebook is believed to have pushed back its original plans because of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which escalated in March. Because of this apparent delay, according to DigiTimes, Facebook has cut its 2018 order volume by around 20%.

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Facebook Portal: Voice assistance, camera and features

There have been a few conflicting reports about voice assistance on Facebook Portal, and it isn’t clear whether or not the social network is planning to build its own virtual helper into the device.

According to a May report from CNBC, which cites two people who have spoken to Facebook about the devices, the voice assistant behind the speakers will be tied to M, Facebook’s artificial intelligence program that used to function as a chatbot in Messenger. Marvin is reportedly one of the names that has been considered by the company.

However, in August, Jane Manchun Wong – who previously gave us an early look at the Facebook dating app – found some evidence of a virtual assistant codenamed Aloha buried in the code of the Facebook Messenger app.

Then in September, the Cheddar report cited above claimed that Portal “will feature integration with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant”.  We don’t know what to believe right now, but hopefully we won’t have long to wait for official word from Facebook.

Facebook Portal is said to be equipped with a wide-angle camera that will be able to recognise you and track you as you move around a room. However, you’ll reportedly be able to cover this up with a ‘privacy shutter’ − the result of an apparent “deeper review” to ensure the device makes “the right trade-offs regarding user data”.

It will also have microphones onboard, connect to Facebook Messenger to let you chat to your friends with minimal effort, and let you watch videos, play music, get news briefs and follow recipes.

Do Facebook’s rumoured smart speaker plans concern or excite you? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @TrustedReviews.

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