Facebook launches Amazon Echo rival, partners with Spotify, Pandora and iHeart

Facebook could put a camera in your home with video calling Portal device

Do you trust Facebook to put a camera and microphone in your living room?

Created to rival the Amazon Echo Show, the Portal will retail for $199 (around £150 / AU$280), whereas the larger model, the Portal+, will cost $349 (£270 / AU$495), with Facebook's current deal of $100 off any two devices meaning you can get both for $298 if you're a U.S. customer. By purposefully excluding many features, the Portal becomes purely a music-playing and video-chatting device. And Pandora, iHeart Radio and other streaming services can be played through the built-in speakers. The company says the camera only runs locally, it does not connect to its servers and the only recordings it keeps are voice commands that people can see in their activity logs and can be deleted. Portal also comes with Facebook and Messenger integration. It has a 12-megapixel front-facing camera with 140-degree field of view.

Also, Facebook laid out how much the company actually knows about Portal video chats and users' interactions with the devices.

Both devices go up for preorder today from Facebook and Amazon, and will begin shipping in November. Both come in white or black. Facebook is one of the most untrusted companies when it comes to protecting or even being ethical with its user's data (it practically pioneered the quote "if you're not paying for it, you're the product").

Portal and Portal+ also come with a camera cover, so you can easily block your camera's lens at any time and still receive incoming calls and notifications, plus use voice commands.

The device includes what Facebook calls Smart Camera and Smart Sound technology, which uses artificial intelligence to automatically pan and zoom the camera to keep everyone speaking in view, while Smart Sound minimises background noise and enhances the voice of whoever is speaking to improve call quality.

The main difference between the Facebook Portal+ and standard Portal is size, as the latter sports a fairly easy to maneuver 10.1-inch display, while the Plus version bumps that up to a gargantuan, portrait to landscape-rotating 15.6 inches. They feature cameras that cleverly identify people and move to ensure they are always in frame during a call.

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They said Portal is available at Amazon and Best Buy stores in addition to Facebook.com and starts shipping to US customers in early November.

Facebook struck partnerships with companies to bolster the abilities of its Portal devices.

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 74 percent of Facebook members in the USA have in the previous year taken a break, deleted the app from their phone or adjusted their privacy settings.

Earlier this year, Facebook had to acknowledge that as many as 87 million people may have had their data accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm that worked for the Trump campaign and aimed to use the data to influence elections. The device will allow users to disable the camera and microphone with a single tap and to lock it with a numerical passcode.

Portal is similar to Amazon's Echo Show. The Portal features a 10.1-inch display along with 10W speakers.

Facebook won't make a profit from selling Portal or Portal+ at their current price points, according to a person familiar with the business.

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