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Today Facebook announced their new Portal smart video calling device, complete with Alexa built-in, to help reinvent video chatting... but with their privacy track record, is this something you want?

Facebook representatives prefer to talk about their "mission" rather than business models and profits, but wireless speakers and video calls are a growing market.

"We know that privacy and security are important when you bring new technology into your home".

Facebook is upping the ante against Amazon and Google with the launch of Portal, a smart speaker and display product that's been designed with video calls in mind.

The standard Portal smart speaker features a 10.1-inch 720p display with 10W speakers, and is priced at $199.

Facebook has just announced that its long-awaited video chat devices Portal and Portal+ are now available to preorder in the United States, with shipping due to commence in November. They will go on sale from November. Those commands could eventually be used to better inform Facebook's ad business. However, preorders will be limited to United States buyers initially - Amazon and Best Buy will also stock them. Both devices also feature a button that turns their cameras physically off.

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A smart speaker device by Facebook Inc. called Portal is shown in this photo released by Facebook Inc. from Menlo Park, California, U.S., October 5, 2018. Users can ask for things like weather forecasts, traffic updates, and sports scores, but it's unclear if all of Alexa's more than 50,000 skills are available on Portal devices. Facebook says it and your friends can't look into your house anytime they want: Video chats have to be explicitly accepted before the camera cuts on.

Facebook is also including features like Smart Call and Smart Sound. Facebook is pitching it as a device that will make Messenger video calls easier and "more like hanging out". That means you can easily start a video call within Facebook Messenger, or you can watch the various content on Facebook's own video streaming service, Facebook Watch. Your Portal conversations stay between you and the people you're calling.

For added security, Smart Camera and Smart Sound use AI technology that runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers. Facebook also says that cameras in the Portal and Portal+ come with a cover that should give an assurance to people that Facebook is not watching their moves.

"Frankly if we don´t build the hardware, I do have concerns", Bosworth admitted, saying it was crucial to put "people first" whether delivering a platform for virtual reality or augmented reality. "You can't watch YouTube; there's no web browser; WhatsApp and Instagram are nowhere to be found; and you can't send or receive normal Facebook messages, even if they're video recordings". Even as these two tech giants team up, though, Facebook has asserted ownership over the device by offering its own voice controls, as well.

Portal supports Amazon's Alexa voice assistant and will be sold through Amazon's website and in some of its physical stores, representing Facebook's first major partnership with Amazon.


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