Facebook Portal may take on Alexa with a voice assistant called Marvin

The voice assistant powering Facebook’s upcoming range of smart speakers could be called Marvin, it has been reported.

The social media firm is widely believed to be working on a pair of smart home speakers – rivals to the Amazon Echo and Google Home – and more details have emerged ahead of their launch.

Related: Google Home vs Amazon Echo

According to 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 one of the names that has been considered by the social network, but it isn’t yet clear if a final decision has been made.

One of Facebook’s rumoured speakers, meanwhile, is expected to be called Portal. It will reportedly also feature a camera, which won’t creep people out at all.

There’s also talk that the speakers will be sold internationally before becoming available in the US, due to increased scrutiny from the government.

Like Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, Facebook’s voice assistant will be able to respond to voice commands. The speakers will reportedly also connect to Facebook Messenger, to let you chat to your friends with minimal effort.

Facebook is believed to have pushed the launch of the speakers back to October, in the hope that we’ll all have forgotten about the Cambridge Analytica scandal by then.

The devices were originally expected to arrive in May. However, with Facebook currently under enormous pressure, it seems the firm has decided that now’s probably not the best time to release a pair of slightly creepy-sounding gadgets that people all over the world will almost certainly be alarmed by.

Read more: Google I/O 2018

Because of this apparent delay, according to DigiTimes, Facebook has cut its 2018 order volume by around 20%.

Last month, it was claimed that the speakers were “undergoing a deeper review” to ensure they make “the right trade-offs regarding user data”. It sounds like Facebook needs a little more time to figure out how to pitch them with scaring everyone off.

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