nsucurrent.com May 21, 2018

Facebook smart speakers coming in July 2018

16 February 2018, 04:53 | Ricardo Garza

Facebook set to launch two smart speakers in July 2018

Facebook smart speakers leak to push video chat

While Fiona is expected to be a device similar to the Amazon Echo and Google Home, Portal is said to have a large 15-inch touch screen, twice the size of the display of Amazon's Echo Show and larger even than the eight and 10-inch Google Assistant displays due out later this year from Lenovo.

Facebook is reportedly creating a pair of smart speakers - the "more sophisticated" of which, nicknamed Aloha, will eventually be known as Facebook Portal.

Facebook has signed music licensing contracts with Sony and Universal Music for smart home speakers.

The two units are reportedly being developed by Facebook's "Building 8" lab, run by former Defense Department employee and Googler Regina Dugan.

Two smart speakers are better than one?

It was first reported past year that Facebook was planning to launch its own smart speaker in 2018.

According to a report from Cheddar back in January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't care whether Portal "generates a profit", he just wants to "change user behaviour and encourage phone-like usage". A wide-angle lens on the front of the device will be able to recognize users.

A version in testing would enable the camera to automatically scan for faces in the room and link them to their Facebook accounts.

Amazon's Echo Show lists for $229.99 and is now on sale for $179.99.

Like Amazon's screen-equipped Echo Show, the device will be controlled by voice-command and designed for indoor use.

We've asked Facebook for comment and will update this article with any response.

Portal and Fiona would be Facebook's first consumer hardware devices and could potentially give them a foothold in the crowded smart speaker market. The report cites supply chain sources as saying that the release of the devices was earlier scheduled in May, but Facebook needs more time "for perfecting the acoustic quality of the gadgets and software modification".

Aloha and Fiona don't seem to be the only devices now being worked on by the company. It remains to be seen, how the new smart speakers match up to the offerings by big players like Google, Amazon, and Apple.

And the Portal will also come with more social networking functions.

Other interesting information that DigiTimes disclosed pertain to Facebook's partners. Bloomberg previously reported the hardware could be announced at F8, Facebook's developer conference - although it's in May, not July.

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