Following years of stealth development, Facebook debuted the 15-inch Portal+ and 10-inch Portal with Alexa inside made their debut last month.
The main selling point for Portal are artificial intelligence-powered features like Smart Camera, which automatically zooms in on and frames video calls to make sure all the people in a room are in the same shot. Smart Volume modulates microphone intensity so that everyone in the room can be heard at a reasonable volume.
The highlight feature can fix the camera’s attention on and follow a single person in the room so, for example, grandma can follow her grandkid no matter where she runs off during a video call.
The other big selling point for Portal is shared experiences during calls, which includes the ability to play Spotify or Pandora music together at whatever volume each caller wants to hear, and Storytime, augmented reality stories for children.
To create more Storytime and in-call experiences, Facebook will open a Portal app third-party ecosystem for developers.
When not being used for video calls, Portal devices have a feature called Superframe that draw pictures from personal Facebook albums as well as recent photos of close friends.
While Facebook hopes the 1.3 billion monthly active users of Facebook Messenger will see value in Portal and Portal+, early critics of the device cite Facebook’s poor record on privacy among chief reasons they refuse to purchase a Portal.
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