Facebook has confirmed it is bringing its Portal smart display to the UK and Europe this autumn, and will include new WhatsApp video calling capabilities.
The device, which is currently on sale for half price in the United States, is designed primarily to facilitate video calling, but also enables users to connect with Messenger, share content and display photos and notifications.
It also has built in Alexa support, meaning you can make commands using Amazon’s powerful personal assistant.
As well as adding WhatsApp video calling support with end-to-end encryption, the company is adding a “Hey Portal, Good Morning” feature to bring information on friends’ birthdays, calendar events and other information from Facebook. Facebook Live and Amazon Prime video will soon be joining in the fun too.
Overall, the unique selling point appears to be the ability for Portal to follow the action, so you can stay within the frame while moving around the room during a video call. As cool as it sounds, this is a terrifying capability for anyone familiar with Facebook’s current and historic disregard for the privacy of its users.
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The company says Portal was created with privacy, safety and security in mind, but it’s somewhat of a hollow claim given each week the company’s vows are put into perspective by another instance of compromised user data.
The company says: “You can completely disable the camera and microphone with a single tap, or block the camera lens with the camera cover provided,” while also promising “Facebook doesn’t listen to, view or keep the contents of your Portal video calls. Your Portal conversations stay between you and the people you’re calling.”
It also gives users the right to delete the history of “Hey Portal” voice commands, while Facebook pledges the camera doesn’t use facial recognition to identify users. It also says the AI camera software lives directly on the device with nothing transmitted to users.
If you trust Facebook, then you’ll have no problem picking up a Portal and enjoying using it. If you have any reservations about Facebook’s privacy record then you’re probably not going to want to take a chance on this one.
There’s no news on the UK price yet, but we’ll keep you posted.
Will you be buying Portal when it lands in the United Kingdom later this year? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.