Say hello to Facebook's Portal, Entertainment News & Top Stories

Facebook Introduces AR Enhanced Video Calling Devices

"Both models are created to help you feel closer to the important people in your life and make video chats feel less like a call, and more like you're actually in the same room", Facebook said in a blog post.

The company, which saw its trust ranking collapse in the 2018 FutureBrand Index, was at pains to explain the security features in its announcement for the device which is yet to have an Australian release date.

Portal speakers are meant to aid in video calls though skeptics are concerned this might prove to be another avenue for hackers. Facebook said the Portal will even be able to communicate with those who might not have the speaker installed at their end. It is clear that the company has noted people's concerns when it comes to the latter, as both sizes of Portal come with buttons that disable the microphones and cameras. You can also receive $100 United States dollars off any two devices - this means a bundle of two Portal devices will be priced at $298 USD, so you can share the experience right out of the box. Facebook has also developed a new artificial intelligence software called Smart Camera, which will work by sensing people's movements and automatically pan, zoom, and frame the picture without requiring any intervention.

When the Portal device is not making a call, it can use the Superframe function to display photos and videos as well as important notifications such as birthday reminders.

Portal is voice control enabled, but it only sends voice commands to the Facebook servers after you say "Hey Portal".

For more complex voice-controlled tasks, both Portal devices also incorporate Amazon's Alexa intelligent assistant. This has a much bigger 15-inch screen with a Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) display.

The Facebook Portal, shipping in November, is now available for preorders through the device's official website, with the Portal going for $199 and the Portal+ selling at $349.

With Facebook Messenger installed on Portal, which allows users to place calls via the Messenger, Facebook Portal clearly has more advantage over Google and Amazon's smart home devices.

How about you? Would you allow Facebook's new device into the privacy of your home?

It uses Amazon's Alexa voice commands, as well as its always-listening functionality. 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.

However, the launch of the product comes at a tricky time for Facebook. The two devices come with built-in speakers and webcams, and can stand upright or horizontally on a surface. There's also a physical camera cover to prevent camera recording.

"Frankly if we don't build the hardware, I do have concerns", Facebook's vice president of consumer hardware Andrew Bosworth admitted, saying it was crucial to put "people first" whether delivering a platform for virtual reality or augmented reality.

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