Facebook Portal Adding Interesting Features

Facebook Inc. launched a brand of smart displays called Portal devices. Then, it was just the Facebook Portal and the Facebook Portal Plus. The Facebook Portal operates a smart video calling on a 10” HD display, which measures 7.3 in height, 10.23 in weight, and 5.56 inches in depth. While the Portal Plus operates a smart video calling on a 15.6” HD display.

This smart display has the coolest feature of the Smart Camera. It pans and zooms automatically, to find you as you move around, or even in a group discussion; it fits everyone into the camera. If one person in a group is talking, the camera focuses on them, before switching angles to any other person talking next. It creates a kind of cinematic effect, which no other smart display can do. It also blocks off background noises to a certain degree.

These products were designed to give users optimum satisfaction in their video conversations; staying within the frame, using AI positioning during these conversations was a major breakthrough in these devices. They were aimed at connecting friends and family through video calling devices to be used in the home. 

Recently, the second generation of Portal devices were unveiled. The Facebook Portal was upgraded, while there was the new release of the Portal Mini and the Portal TV. The new versions of Portal come along with lots of features that include: WhatsApp calls, Instagram photos and, also works well Amazon’s Alexa.

A notable improvement is that while the first generation devices supported only Facebook contact video-call, that is, video calls couldn’t be made for those who were not on the social media; the upgraded devices has the feature that allows WhatsApp, even without a Facebook account. Users are now allowed to make video calls to people who don’t even have a Facebook account.

The new and interesting features are:

  • New AR features like the lip-sync app called Mic Drop, exclusive to the Portal TV.
  • Interactive AR Story Time app upgrade. New renditions of classics like Little Red Riding Hood, Godilocks and the Three Bears, tales from Pete the Cat, Otto, and others like that, have been added.
  • Photo Booth, also exclusive to the Portal TV. This allows selfies, photos and videos to be shared through Messenger.
  • Support for Facebook’s Workplace product for businesses. A Workplace app that can be used by Facebook users, who are mostly owners of enterprise-sized businesses to hold meetings, conferences, and the likes. Its smart camera auto-zooms everyone in the board room to keep them in frame and also focused in action.
  • Live stream from device directly to Facebook profile trough Facebook Live.
  • Upgraded people-tracking software that seems very much accurate. 
  • New streaming services which includes the Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNOW, Sling TV, and others.
  • Video chat set-top box for TVs, exclusive to the Portal TV only.
  • The Watch Together, Facebook’s co-watching feature, where users can view Facebook Watch shows and programs together.

All of these are interesting features that has been added to the previous make of the portal devices. With these new and interesting features, the portal devices are edging towards becoming one of the best, thereby competing with the likes of the Apple Tv, Amazon’s Fire TV, Android TV and others.

As there are now four versions of the portal: An 8-inch Portal Mini ($129), A 10-inch Portal ($179), A 15.6-inch Portal Plus ($279), and A Portal TV ($149); there are still issues Facebook needs to settle for the promotion of these devices.

Facebook had always had issues with security breaches over time. Privacy concerns were raised amongst the users, as some first generation users complained of the fact that data seems not to be safe with the Portal device. The second generation devices tried addressing this issue, as it is very important. 

Data should easily be handled by the owner, and not unnecessarily exposed; thereby leading to scandals, and seemingly endless parade of security breach events. Therefore, Facebook came up with privacy rules that states that:

  • You can now disable the microphone or cover the camera by easing a physical switch, as needs be.
  • You can easily view and delete your voice discussions in the activity log seen in the Portal.
  • You can also keep the Portal from storing and interactions at all, by changing the default setting which is always to record every action.
  • People will not be able to review your interactions to improve voice services.

With this, confidence can be restored in the minds of users about the privacy of data provided on their Facebook accounts. Even with all these, Facebook says it is planning to bring more content and experiences with future software updates to its Portal devices.

Published 01/1/20