Facebook Unveils Portal and Portal

See Facebook's first hardware product

See Facebook's first hardware product

But Facebook says it has crafted its Portal gadgets, launched this week, to be as un-creepy as possible.

While Portal will be seen by many as a direct competitor to other smart assistant devices, particularly Amazon's screen-equipped Echo Show, Facebook is pitching the device as mainly a way to stay connected with friends and family.

Since this is Facebook we're talking about, many folks are likely concerned about the question of privacy when it comes to Facebook Portal. Facebook is going up against some stiff competition with its first hardware devices, with Amazon and Google already dominating the United States market for smart speakers and displays.

Both devices include 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2, and are available for pre-order from Facebook's Portal website. You can start a video call simply by saying "Hey Portal" and noting who you'd like to call.

Facebook on Monday unveiled Portal, a new at-home hardware device focused on video chat. To prevent unwanted visitors from using your Portal, you can set a passcode from four to 12 digits in length.

Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant in its bid for a slice of a market now dominated by Amazon and Google.

Facebook also says that the AI features Smart Camera and Smart Sound work locally, and therefore do not send any data back to the social network.

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Also, Facebook laid out how much the company actually knows about Portal video chats and users' interactions with the devices. The Portal+ uses a 1080P display that measures 15.6 inches diagonally.

When you're not using the Portal, a feature called Superframe will let you display your favorite photos and videos or important notifications such as birthday reminders. In fact, Portal supports Amazon Alexa, allowing users to control its functions by voice control, as well as ask for information around things like the weather or sports results. You can delete the voice history from your Facebook Activity Log at any time. There are no facial recognition features built into the video calling devices, either.

The Portal and Portal+ will take on Amazon's Echo Show and Google's upcoming Home Hub smart display. In addition, video calls on Portal are encrypted, so your calls are always secure, ' the company said in the blog post announcing the device.

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.

Earlier this year, Facebook had to acknowledge that as many as 87 million people may have had their data accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm that worked for the Trump campaign and aimed to use the data to influence elections.

Scrutiny this year over Facebook's privacy and content moderation practices have led some people to abandon the service and the company to warn of thinning profits. Facebook has partnered with Spotify Premium, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, as well as Facebook Watch, Food Network and Newsy with mode on the way.

The Portal and Portal+ are new video calling devices which feature built-in speakers and large touchscreens.

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