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This means the ability to do voice or video calls over Facebook Messenger and Facebook Watch integration.

Facebook is launching two versions of the Portal: A model with a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 display will cost $199, while the larger 15.6-inch 1080p Portal Plus will cost $349.

Facebook is marketing the device, called Portal, as a way for its more than 2 billion users to chat with one another without having to fuss with positioning and other controls.

Since this is Facebook we're talking about, many folks are likely concerned about the question of privacy when it comes to Facebook Portal.

The new video call devices are powered by AI, with Facebook's "Smart Camera" technology created to follow you as you move around the room and zoom in to the action, meaning you can continue chatting over video while doing chores, cooking in the kitchen, or looking for something in your room.

Portal is powered by an AI camera that "stays with the action" and automatically zooms to keep people in the frame.

Facebook expects to stand apart on the market because of Portal's touchscreen and the 400 million people who call through its Messenger service each month worldwide. The company has revealed details about its Amazon Echo competitor, a voice-controlled, webcam-equipped smart screen named Portal. Both devices also have a camera cover for when they're not in use, which won't block incoming calls or notifications.

Indeed, CEO Mark Zuckerberg this spring reportedly pushed back the Portal's launch date by almost half a year after the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal blew up.


Conspiracy theories aside, it's good to see that there's a department in Facebook that's putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to user data protection... but the way the Portal is built can also be perceived as an extremely limiting experience too.

If multiple people are in front of the camera, the Portal will use a wide-angle lens to fit everyone in.

But the Portal, reportedly delayed from an earlier launch by the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, will pay an extra price for Facebook's years of playing fast and loose with our privacy.

Calls will be encrypted, and the AI technology runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers, with it only sending voice commands to the servers after hearing, "Hey Portal". The device will allow users to disable the camera and microphone with a single tap and to lock it with a numerical passcode.

Both the Portal and Portal+ are available to pre-order today, though as I said they're restricted to the USA for the time being. Why?

The speaker will go on sale in the U.S. in November. Facebook is late to enter a crowded space already dominated by Amazon's Echo and Google Home. The Facebook app has been known to collect an ungodly amount of data from people's phones, including call history and SMS data on Android. However, Amazon's and Google's smart displays do much more than make video calls-namely, they integrate with other services, many of which are unique to their parent companies.

There are only a handful of third-party partners, so far, including Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Newsy, Food Network and Amazon Alexa.


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