UPDATED: Facebook has launched its own line of smart speakers. Free Facebook Messenger video calls are at the center of the Portal From Facebook hardware offering, but like most smart speakers, music is also a core feature. The backlash online was immediate.
Facebook fans and foes wondered online if the social network should be trusted as the conduit for a device that serves as an in-home video calling system whjich can follow users as they move around a room. Given recent hacks and abuses by developers, could Facebook really be trusted to protect users and keep the device.from becoming a spy cam.
“Facebook doesn’t listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,” says the social network. But that does not mean that others won’t try to, say critics. Portal does come with a camera cover and can be password protected.
Missing Launch Partners
Facebook’s new Portal and Portal+ smart speakers also enable shared activities like listening to music and watching videos. Launch partners include Spotify Premium, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, as well as, Facebook Watch, Food Network and Newsy More are promised soon.
Missing from the partner list are two popular music services whose corporate parents sell smart speakers with voice operating systems of their own – Amazon Music and Apple Music.
Pandora commented on the partnership adding some details:
“Thanks to Pandora, music can be a part of the way you communicate. As of today, all listeners across ad-supported, Plus, and Premium tiers can play their music on Pandora using the power of their voice with Alexa, or share their favorite tunes while chatting with up to six friends directly on Portal’s touchscreen interface. And, when played, music will be magically synced across your Portal devices.”
Notably. Amazon’s Alexa voice controls are integrated into Portal smart speakers “to ask for sports scores, check the weather, control smart home devices, order groceries, and more.”
You can also buy your Portal device via Amazon or Best Buy. Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the US from Facebook at portal.facebook.com, as well as Amazon and Best Buy, and will begin shipping in November. Pottal starts at $199 and larger screened Portal+ is $349. You can get $100 off any two devices.
But despite having Amazon as a retail partner and the Alexa integration, its unclear that Amazon Music can be accessed via Alexa on a Portal speaker.