With the debut of the Portal device and its sibling, the Portal+, the company has apparently decided that now is the right time to persuade Americans to put Facebook microphones, data-harvesting technologies and video cameras inside their homes. Portal's display is fixed in landscape mode, but Portal+'s screen can pivot between portrait and landscape modes.
Mark Zuckerberg noticed that everyone is talking about how Facebook Portal is eavesdropping on their conversations and he decided to make the following statement: "Facebook Portal doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls".
The company worked with a United States film director to make the camera movements feel natural, said Mr Nick Fell, marketing director for the Portal team. Facebook executives have repeatedly said that the company does not use the contents of messages or calls for advertising purposes and will not do so in the future.
Also, while the Portal leverages its video screen to allow users to apply augmented reality emojis and other AR features to their video calls, the screen doesn't do much more than that.
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With video-calling growing exponentially more popular, the Portal device may prove to be a stronger seller than predicted, but it is hard to think of a more unsuitable time for such a product to launch from the company.
"We set out to try and make video calling so good that it feels like you're sharing the same physical space as someone else", he said. Portal is equipped with a camera that can pan and zoom to places automatically making the video call responsive. It also allows you quickly make calls with folks you're connected with on Facebook Messenger. To initiate the machine, you need to say, "Hey Portal" and it will start. It will also have Alexa integration for controlling smart home devices, accessing information and navigating other apps. It's been beaten into that game by Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung and a handful of others.
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Not only does Portal have Amazon's Alexa built in for voice control, but it also uses AI to power the device's Smart Camera and Smart Sound abilities. "Portal supports group calls of up to seven people at the same time", said the social media platform.
Shared experiences are an area that Facebook sees as a workable niche for the Portal devices. Launch partners include Spotify Premium, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, as well as, Facebook Watch, Food Network and Newsy More are promised soon. Most users may not want to install the device in their living rooms where the service is most needed. More on, Story Time brings stories to life with custom sound effects and visuals.
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They said Portal is available at Amazon and Best Buy stores in addition to Facebook.com and starts shipping to US customers in early November. The Portal Plus costs $349 and a 1080p screen that rotates into either portrait or landscape mode with a gentle push.