Google takes on Amazon and Facebook with connected video device

Facebook Introduces AR Enhanced Video Calling Devices

Facebook launches Portal and Portal+ video call devices

The marketing opportunities for Facebook's Portal are unclear, given that the devices now don't have ads, but the company notes that advertisers can reach Portal users with ad inserts in third-party video programming, per Facebook's Portal privacy page. While Portal+ has a 15-inch 1920 x 1080 pivoting display.

Portal will give users multiple ways to lock and turn off the various aspects of the device.

In terms of privacy, Facebook claims the calls are encrypted and that Facebook does not listen in or save a copy of them. The tag line says it all: "When you can't be there, Portal and Portal+ let you feel there". It would also be a great option for those in long term relationships that want to connect more frequently than the odd quick call here or there.

"However, the other aspect of this is that many consumers of this product are more concerned with functionality than privacy and will purchase it regardless of what actions Facebook takes". The only time when the Portal only sends your voice commands to the Facebook servers, when you use the phrase Hey Phrase. Unlike a regular phone or video call, there's no ringing, and you never have to "answer" the call - they just appear instantly. There were almost 1 billion video calls made on Messenger in 2017, and it was double the number than the calls made in 2016.

The space normally dominated by Amazon and Google has a new competitor in its courtyard with Facebook announcing the launch of its own smart speakers.

The Portal devices mark Facebook's entry into the home devices market, which is growing crowded with voice-enabled smart displays, such as Amazon's Echo Look and numerous devices that run on Google Assistant. To manage Portal access within the home, users can set a four- to 12-digit passcode to keep the screen locked and changing the passcode would require the Facebook password. Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio tunes can all be streamed via voice commands, with Amazon's Alexa handling any shouted instructions, musical or otherwise (despite Portal competing with Amazon's Echo range and Amazon's music services not being integrated at launch).

The company also added that Portal and Portal+ comes with a camera cover so users can easily block the camera's lens at any time and still receive incoming calls and notifications. A handful of animated e-books such as "Itsy Bitsy Spider" will be included at launch for interactive story time.

The devices will go on sale in the United States in November. This feature brings stories to life with custom sound effects and visuals.

The "Portal" will be available in two sizes - a $199 model with a 25.4-cm horizontal screen and a $349 "Plus" version model with a 39.6-cm screen.

The Portals are available for pre-order now from Facebook, Amazon, and Best Buy, and shipping will commence in November.

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