Portal and Portal+ are here: Facebook's first two smart speakers

Portal and Portal+ are here: Facebook's first two smart speakers

Social media giant Facebook just unveiled its first two smart speakers called the Portal and Portal+ and - like Amazon's Echo Show - these devices have screens built in too.

Facebook's new devices are available in the US only right now (pre-orderable from today and shipping in November); they use Amazon's Alexa for their voice-control features, while Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio are the launch partners for music-streaming.

The devices will support video calls via Facebook Messenger, and have features that will automatically pan and zoom the camera based on who's in shot, as well as boosting the voice of whoever's talking at the time. Due to the well known privacy issues Facebook had to face, the announcement of the devices stresses that:

Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls. Your Portal conversations stay between you and the people you're calling. In addition, video calls on Portal are encrypted, so your calls are always secure.

Musicwise, all Facebook said was the names of its first three launch partners: Spotify (premium), Pandora and iHeartRadio, while noting the potential for more in the future - it's a surprise not to see Amazon on the list, given Alexa's presence on the Portal devices.

While Facebook does have music-licensing deals, they only cover user-generated content. Hence the partnerships.

Pandora has provided some more details on how it will work with Portal:

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 favourite 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–  as if you we were all in the same room together.