Facebook announces first hardware device

09 October, 2018, 11:10 | Author: Elena Summers
  • See Facebook's first hardware product

Anticipating scrutiny, Facebook said in a blog post that Portal had been designed with "privacy and security in mind", noting that the camera and microphone can be disabled with a tap and that it comes equipped with a lens cover. That means you can easily start a video call within Facebook Messenger, or you can watch the various content on Facebook's own video streaming service, Facebook Watch.

Portal also enables shared activities like listening to music together or watching some of your favorite shows.

Calls will be encrypted, and the AI technology runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers, with it only sending voice commands to the servers after hearing, "Hey Portal". The former features a 10.1-inch screen with WXGA resolution and 10W speakers, while the latter features a 15.6-inch Full HD display with 20W speakers and a 4-inch bass woofer. It has a 12-megapixel front-facing camera with 140-degree field of view.

The device, which will be available for pre-order in the United States from Monday, is created to allow users to make video calls at home without having to stand immediately in front of the screen or hold a phone at arm´s length.

Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the United States - from Facebook at portal.facebook.com, as well as Amazon and Best Buy - and will begin shipping in November. Both come in white or black.

Just before the hack, a study from first-party data firm Jebbit found that in the U.S. alone, Facebook was ranked as he least-trusted company for users in terms of handing over their personal data in exchange for relevant services.

The camera is powered by artificial intelligence, and the Smart Camera and Smart Sound technology "take all the guesswork out of video calling", Facebook says. There's also no way to record video from the camera.

"You can call Facebook friends and connections on Messenger even if they don't have Portal".

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"This is going to gain (Facebook) not only a place in the smart home, but also data they may not have been able to collect before or understand before", said ABI Research analyst Jonathan Collins.

Scrutiny this year over Facebook's privacy and content moderation practices have led some people to abandon the service and the company to warn of thinning profits.

After lengthy rumours Facebook has finally announced Portal, their answer to the Amazon Echo Show. More recently, Facebook revealed that hackers managed to pierce its security to break into 50 million accounts. If you don't want to use Alexa, either, you can flick a switch that disables the camera and microphone altogether.

It does seem theoretically possible to turn the smaller Portal on its side to achieve a portrait mode view, but until we get some hands-on time with the device we don't know if that's an available option.

Portal represents Facebook's first serious foray into selling consumer hardware outside of its virtual reality brand Oculus, which it acquired for $2 billion in 2014.

Facebook Portal and Portal+ will be available in November for $199 and $349, respectively.

There are only a handful of third-party partners, so far, including Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Newsy, Food Network and Amazon Alexa.

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