Much like Amazon Echo Show, the home speaker will include Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, and it will have a screen for users to watch videos or have video chats with friends.
Rumors of Portal’s release include talk of a wide-angle video camera that uses artificial intelligence to recognize people and follow them around the room. The idea is to keep communicators in the frame if they walk around the room while video chatting, but Facebook included a shutter over the camera to ease privacy concerns.
Portal’s release is potentially coming at a time when Facebook is struggling to recover from scandals that left user traffic and stocks at record lows. The home device was originally meant to be announced at F8 in May, but the company delayed launch following privacy concerns resulting from the Cambridge Analytica bombshell.
Add on an unimpressive earnings report, and Facebook’s stock plunged more than 20% in one day late July. It’s yet to fully recover, especially following the news in August that the site’s traffic was down nearly 50% from the last two years. But this may be due to increased mobile usage; SimilarWeb still ranks Facebook as the world’s top social media site.
If released, Portal would be Facebook’s first foray into the home device market.