Facebook Portal should have been delivered by Skype years ago

Facebook Introduces AR Enhanced Video Calling Devices

"We've seen a rise of video calling, on both Messenger and WhatsApp", Facebook's vice-president of consumer hardware Andrew Bosworth said before the launch of Portal.

Also, the company stresses that Facebook doesn't listen or view or keep the content of your Portal video calls.

"Facebook Portal is an interesting move in that it exclusively focuses on being a communication tool - essentially a video phone - and isn't linked to Facebook or Instagram accounts", Stead said. Also, Facebook allows users to disable cameras and the microphones in Portal and Portal+ with a single tap. So, it can connect calls to people who are not using "Portal".

The Facebook Portal uses an AI-powered camera to pan, zoom, and reframe the picture.

To start a call, all one has to do is say: "Hey Portal". The Portals also include Amazon's voice-controlled Alexa, positioning the devices firmly as a competitor to other smart speaker devices like Google Home and Apple's HomePod.

Much of the coverage around the launch of Facebook's Portal devices likens them to the smart speakers that other companies have launched.

Like Alexa and Home, Facebook's devices will offer a voice-activated system triggered by a "Hey Portal" instruction giving accesses to informations like sports scores, weather reports and grocery shopping along with controlling smart home devices. The Portal+, meanwhile, features a larger 15-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen.

Both devices are available now for pre-order in the USA and will begin shipping in November. It is priced at $349 (£270). Portal plays your favorite music, and powerful speakers will fill your room with rich, hi-fi sound 2 Full-Range Drivers 10w Rich Sound. The company claims that the Portal will not gather data for ad targeting, but instead record data like call times and lengths, something that is useful for Facebook Messenger to build a better profile of users, according to Camargo.

The devices' "smart camera" and "smart sound" technology will give the Portal and Portal+ the ability to focus and follow a person and the sound of one's voice around a room, creating an effect that Facebook said is "like having your own cinematographer and sound crew".

With Facebook Messenger installed on Portal, which allows users to place calls via the Messenger, Facebook Portal clearly has more advantage over Google and Amazon's smart home devices.

To help convince users the new products will be secure, Facebook included a kill switch for the front-facing camera, encryption of video calls, and the most foolproof privacy shield known to humankind: a lens cap.

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. Furthermore, the AI tech runs locally and only commands after the initial "Hey Portal" get sent to Facebook servers for processing. Portal closely resembles Amazon's Echo Show.

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