Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Online Backlash Mars Facebook Portal Smart Speaker Launch with Spotify, Pandora, iHeart

Is Facebook Getting Even Less Friendly? Social Media Giant Shuts Down Friends List Feeds Feature Facebook’s New Camera Announcement is Met With Mixed Reviews Zoe Zorka
Katie Ramirez | 11 October, 2018, 23:28

Portal is equipped with a camera that can pan and zoom to places automatically making the video call responsive. It also has audio tech that focuses on human voices while minimizing background noises, and it allows you to have group video calls with up to six people. However, it will not be possible to record. Prior to its launch, Amazon has introduced a similar product called Echo Show, whose latest version features premium sound quality and outstanding screen performance.

Since Facebook knows when you're home thanks to your phone location, Portal will ring instead of your phone when you're nearby, but it does also stream video and music from apps like Spotify, so... Also the Portal cameras don't use facial recognition to identify who you are. Nonetheless, the company is pressing on with plans, and has announced two new devices-Portal and Portal+ video calling.

Although Facebook acquired virtual-reality headset manufacturer Oculus in 2014, this is the first time it has developed a consumer hardware product in-house. The Portal will also allow users to connect with those on Messenger, with a notification sent out each time a friend is available to chat. The Portal's compatibility with Amazon Alexa expands its functionality with tens of thousands of voice-powered apps, or "Alexa skills", that are another avenue for reaching audiences or providing customer service. The Facebook Portal and Portal+ are now available to pre-order in the United States from Facebook at portal.facebook.com, as well as Amazon and Best Buy. It costs 1,699 yuan (US$250), has a 8-inch screen, and also lets users make video calls and watch videos on iQiyi... which is odd, because iQiyi is owned by Baidu, but JD.com is owned by Tencent - you'd think they'd use Tencent Video instead. With Portal priced at $199, and Portal+ priced at $349, the devices are priced much higher than competitive devices that cost around $100.

In addition, the microphones and the camera can be easily disabled, and if the user does not trust the mute button, then you can lock the lens with a special rubber cap.

More news: Save Malaysians on death row elsewhere too, says rights group

Facebook announced it is launching a new electronic device, titled Portal, which is meant to optimize video calls for users.

Anyway, Portals will start shipping in the U.S. next month to anyone courageous enough to take the plunge.

Indeed, it will be a three-cornered fight as Facebook's Portal enters the arena and battle it out with Amazon's Echo Show and Google's Home Hub. The market for smart home devices is growing rapidly, unlike the more mature smartphone market, giving Facebook an opportunity to gain a foothold in a nascent technology space. It could signal that Facebook may feel it is too far behind the leaders to try rolling its own assistant out - at least for the time being. Nothing, I'm sure. Certainly, with a gentle nod to recent controversies, Facebook's bumf around the Portal devices waffles on about privacy measures in great detail.

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