The next month or so will see Facebook releasing their first piece of real-world hardware in the form of the Portal and Portal+ devices.
More than just optimised for videocalls over messenger, they are Alexa enabled and integrate fully into your home hub and social media. They also offer a great deal more hardware and software than your typical phone or tablet too. With four mics picking up speech it intelligently eliminates ambient noise and the 12megapixel camera provides a 140-degree field of vision. The software means the camera can pan and zoom to follow you as you move around a room, so, in combination with the mics, you’re ensured a clearer and better customised conversation. The difference in the Portal and the Portal+ comes from the hardware and its functionality. Portal has a 10-inch screen and it is designed to stand in the landscape position. Portal+ has 2 tweeters and a separate bass driver for 20W of sound, double the Portal, and can be pivoted on its mounting to display in landscape or portrait, depending on your preference.
Ain’t No Party Like A Portal Party
The voice controls make it possible to simply call anybody in your Messenger, WhatsApp and other phonebooks, and you can conference with up to six other people. You can talk to any of your friends and family, provided they’re on the same messaging platform, even if they’re not using a Portal or Portal+ device. Alexa also makes it easy to do all the things you’d normally do with a voice activated assistant, including writing and sending a shopping list to your supermarket, controlling the heat, light, music, AV et cetera. You can also use it to add reminders, announcements, and timed messages to be broadcast around the home, check the weather, traffic and news.
As well as all the apps that are currently available to download, Portal comes pre-loaded with Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, Newsy, and the Food Network. You can use SnapChat lenses to augment your calls with funny faces, cartoons and filters, making calls to younger friends and family members that much more fun.
Of course, people are incredibly sensitive to security issues these days. Google+ is shutting up shop because of a data breach combined with very disappointing take-up while Facebook lost control of over 50,000,000 users’ details recently. With this in mind, Facebook have given Portal several security features, such as one-tap camera and microphone disabling, a cover you can put over the lens to be doubly sure, and a PIN code you can use to turn the machine on when you want to make a call. Facebook also guarantee that they won’t analyse, record or otherwise store the data that is produced from a call to any other user.