Facebook's new Portal smart speakers could be worthy challengers to Amazon's Echo

09 October, 2018, 01:15 | Author: Leah Owens
  • Facebook wants people to invite its cameras into their homes

The Portal, which features a smaller 10-inch screen, costs $199 while the Portal+, which has a larger 15.6-inch screen, costs $349. Facebook says it doesn't listen to or store the contents of any Portal call, and all of the A.I. features for Smart Camera and Speaker run locally in the device, not on Facebook's servers. Apparently though, Facebook is well aware of how little its consumers trust it. VP of the Portal's hardware team, Rafa Camargo, says that the biggest concern with the Portal is obviously the security aspect.

"We´ve seen a rise of video calling, on both Messenger and WhatsApp - it has been a tremendous trend", he said. Made as a smart-speaker with a strong focus on video chatting, the Portal lets you play music through popular streaming services, and chat with friends using Facebook's Messenger.

But the launch of a product putting a camera into homes is likely to raise privacy issues for the social media giant, which has suffered several data breaches this year involving tens of millions of user accounts. This marks Facebook's first physical product aside from the Oculus virtual reality headset which Facebook acquired in 2014.

Both Portals use AI technology to make video chatting better. They also have Spotify and Pandora integration. Both devices have a four-mic array that's created to pick up your voice no matter where you are in the room. The video calling looks impressive-you can move around the room while you are talking and the camera will follow you. "It enables the Facebook devices to piggy-back on the back of Alexa success". The larger Portal+ also includes 2 tweeters for the speaker, so the sound output will sound much better on the larger Portal+ than the regular Portal. You can completely disable the camera and microphone with just a single tap, and both the Portal and Portal+ come with a camera cover to easily block the lens at any time.

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A British company, CA has been accused of collecting and exploiting users´ personal data for political purposes without their consent.

Facebook is hardly alone in pushing the boundaries of privacy in our homes.

"At some point, we realised that if we want to continue to advance our mission, the hardware we´re dealing with.is limiting, and so we find ourselves building our own hardware to try and accomplish that mission", Bosworth said.

"You need to have abuse prevention very early on, you need to have security built in early on". Users can ask for things like weather forecasts, traffic updates, and sports scores, but it's unclear if all of Alexa's more than 50,000 skills are available on Portal devices. You can share music over a chat for a long-distance dance party or spice up conversations with augmented-reality masks (which add bunny ears, amusing glasses and other computer-generated effects to your face). When you're not using the 10-inch touch screen for calls, it displays images from Facebook, such as a shared album you choose.

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