Facebook Inc (FB.O) on Monday released a smart speaker created to ease video calls, but the company's history of privacy mishaps and the device's price and limited functionality could slow it from taking on market leaders Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google.
The company revealed the pair, Portal and Portal+, on its website yesterday along with a video showcasing the product's aim, where people were sent the device and asked to try it out.
The new product, called Portal, has been described by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as a device that makes video calling feel a lot more like hanging out.
Intelligently designed portal and portal+ are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) with a smart camera and smart sound technology.
The Portal, which is equipped with a 10-inch 1280x800 display, can let users video chat with their families and friends over Facebook Messenger, while the Portal + has a 15-inch 1920x1080 pivoting display.
Preorders for the device are ongoing but Facebook is not shipping until November in the U.S. and other parts of the word (currently unknown).
Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant in its bid for a slice of a market now dominated by Amazon and Google. Smart Camera features 12MP Resolution 8x Zoom 140 Field of View automatically widens to keep everyone in view as it uses AI technology that runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers. Plus, you can have immersive group conversations with up to seven people (eight including Alexa) to make it feel like old times.
You also have added security control over Portal with the option of setting passwords and disabling its microphone and camera.
With this, you can call Facebook friends and connections on Messenger even if they don't have Portal. The new Show also has a workaround to use an Amazon browser to bring in YouTube. We have already read about the massive security breach that affected 22.2 million Facebook users.
Apart from the Washington Post review, Facebook's launch of Portal was met with a mix of derision and mockery from the tech press.
The devices incorporate a simple voice control system for calls, enabling users to start a video call by saying "Hey Portal, call Randy".
Portal will not display Facebook ads "at this time", the company said, although it noted that third-party services such as music streaming might embed their own ads the same way they do on other devices.
Portal integrates Amazon's Alexa voice assistant to handle search queries, and Facebook collects audio files of requests made to Alexa.