Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Facebook Portal smart screen to launch amid concerns over privacy

Facebook wants people to invite its cameras into their homes Facebook wants people to invite its cameras into their homes  08 Oct 2018- 15:55
Wayne Curry | 10 October, 2018, 10:21

Facebook also says the new devices don't "listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls", encrypting all video calls as they happen on the device. "You can also opt for a 15-inch 1920 x 1080 pivoting display with Portal+", Facebook said in a statement. Made as a smart-speaker with a strong focus on video chatting, the Portal lets you play music through popular streaming services, and chat with friends using Facebook's Messenger. And because Portal also has built-in Amazon Alexa, you can ask it to check the weather, control smart home devices, order groceries, and more.

The 10-inch Portal will cost $199 in the USA, whilst the 15-inch Portal Plus will be available for $349. Buy two Portals and get $100 off.

The social media giant's new "video communication" devices are called the Portal and Portal+, and feature widescreen displays, hands-free voice control and AI-powered cameras and sound.

During a conversation, the integrated camera can automatically zoom out to include a second person, or be instructed to follow a certain individual as they walk around, even picking out their voice over background noise.

Portal costs $199, while Portal+ costs $349 in the US. The AI used in the Smart Camera and Smart Sounds technology runs locally on Portal devices rather than on Facebook servers, and only commands stated after "Hey Portal" are sent to Facebook's servers.

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Portal is also linked with Facebook, and is able to provide birthday reminders, notify you when close friends are available to connect, and display your photos and videos. Well now we finally get to see them for ourselves, properly, because the company just announced tow Alexa-enabled smart displays: the Portal and Portal+. They also come with a camera cover so that one can easily cover the camera when not in use. The larger variant looks more distinctive, with a swiveling 15.6 inch screen that lets you orient it in landscape or portrait.

The company says Facebook's privacy policy applies to Portal, since it uses Messenger for voice and video calls.

Facebook servers receive the voice commands you issue after the "Hey Portal" hotword, but you can delete your voice history from the Facebook Activity Log. Facebook is one of the most untrusted companies when it comes to protecting or even being ethical with its user's data (it practically pioneered the quote "if you're not paying for it, you're the product").

Facebook's release of Portal comes at a time when the social network is under intense scrutiny around the world. It has a 12-megapixel front-facing camera with 140-degree field of view. You can start a video call simply by saying "Hey Portal" and noting who you'd like to call.

Earlier in the year, it was forced to admit that the personal data of tens of millions of users had been hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, a political firm working for Donald Trump in 2016. Facebook partnered with Spotify Premium, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Food Network, and Newsy - and it promised to add more soon. Facebook claims that the audio is rich and should comfortably fill an average room. Camargo told Cheddar that the devices' success will be measured internally by how much "engagement" they create with Facebook's video calling and other services.

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