You may have seen the Facebook portal on the shelf at Best Buy, or seen one of the latest TV commercials, for example, over a Super Bowl ad. And like many viewers, you might be asking yourself: what is the Facebook Portal device? The smart device has not received as much media coverage as others, and Facebook is now trying to correct this fact.
Of course, the portal is also plagued by controversy over the 2018 Cambridge Analytica and more recent persistent privacy concerns. If you are interested in this device, in this article you will learn what the Facebook Portal device is and how it works.
What is a Facebook portal device?
The Facebook Portal device is a smart display. Its main purpose is to make video calls with friends and family through the built-in Facebook Messenger video calling service, but the Facebook portal also boasts Alexa functionality.
Although there was only one portal in the original release, there are now four options to choose from: 10-inch Portal, 8-inch Portal Mini, Portal TV, which uses your TV as a screen, and Portal +, a 15.6-inch display.
What defines Facebook Portal?
If you make a lot of video calls, Facebook Portal has several features that make it stand out from other video calling services.
First of all, its smart camera automatically pans and scales to keep all call participants in the frame. It will expand your field of view so that newcomers to the conversation stay in the chat, and as you move around the room, the camera will follow you so that you remain in the center of the frame.
The Facebook Portal device also has its own voice commands. Users can activate the device by saying â€œHey Portalâ€ and then the command you want it to execute. You can use the Facebook portal to check the weather, time and call your friends. You can ask him to call someone based on his relationship to you, or you can just give him a name. You can also use the “Hey Portal” command to control the display brightness and activate various camera effects.
With built-in Alexa functionality, Portal can also be used to set alarms, create to-do lists, shop online, and play music through services you’ve connected to your Amazon account. It even gives users some control over their smart home devices, as long as those devices have been linked to their Amazon account.
Since Amazon is linked to the Facebook portal, users also have access to Alexa Skills The Facebook portal can do everything Amazon Alexa can do, with the added bonus of video calling.
What services does Portal use to make calls?
The Facebook portal can use both Messenger and WhatsApp to make video calls to friends and family. If they don’t have a Facebook Portal device themselves, calls will go straight to their smartphones or tablets. However, you will need your own WhatsApp account in order to call this service.
Make sure the microphone and camera are turned on before making video calls.
Is the Facebook portal secure?
Given the controversy surrounding the Facebook Portal device and privacy concerns that Zuckerberg has raised after repeated visits to Washington, many people are wary of installing a Facebook device right at home.
According to the company, the Facebook portal is very secure – the microphone and camera are disabled by default. If you need extra privacy, the portal has a physical camera shutter that can be moved to block the camera lens.
The portal also includes a password to lock the screen. The password can be from four to twelve digits, which provides relatively complex security; however, it is limited to numbers. Facebook also claims that all Portal WhatsApp calls are end-to-end encrypted, and Messenger calls are encrypted in transit.
For those concerned about smart camera security, Facebook is reporting that AI is processed locally on the device, not their servers. On the other hand, any command using the “Hello Portal” function is processed on Facebook’s servers. In the portal settings, you can view, listen and delete any records. You can also turn off the storage of any commands.
However, there is one caveat: Portal collects information for advertising purposes. From the security FAQ section:
â€œWhen you use the Portal, we collect information in the same way as other Facebook products. Some of this information, including whether you are logged into your account, made a call, or how often you use a feature or app, may be used to inform the advertisements you see on Facebook. For example, if you make a lot of video calls, you might see ads related to video calls.
Facebook does not listen, view or store the content of your video or audio calls on the portal, so whatever you say when you call the portal is not used for advertising. ”
Should I purchase the Facebook portal?
The Facebook portal is a dedicated device. While it has built-in Alexa functionality, that alone isn’t enough to make it a convenient device for most users. If you use Facebook or WhatsApp and make a lot of video calls, you may like the additional features of the portal.
On the other hand, if you want a smart display but aren’t interested in video calling, you can find a better value proposition at the Amazon Echo Show or Google Home Hub.