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Facebook Portal: A genius invention or a distraction from privacy?

Do you now that Facebook Portal can track who you call, how frequently you call them, and which apps you use. That’s insanely creepy!!

Is it the greatest tech innovation or the worst tech device of the year?

While some experts classify Facebook Portal as the most innovative tech innovation, MarketWatch considers it a ‘distraction from privacy.

Launched as a hands-free device for video calling, Facebook Portal can follow you through your home with its AI-powered camera. Just move around in your room and the camera will zoom in and follow you. Facebook Portal basic version is priced for $199 while Portal+ is available for $349. The recent addition of a web browser for games is a treat for game lovers.

What exactly can Facebook Portal do?

You no longer need to hold the camera while you talk to your buddies. The Facebook Portal just sits on your table or desk and follow you as you walk in your room. You can do other things while you talk to your friends & family. The voice-enhancing microphone gives you the ability to talk from a distance.

Who is the target audience for Facebook Portal?

In my view, Facebook Portal is for everyone who uses Messenger for calling their friends and family. For instance, my friend who hates texting or phone call, finds it easy to video call and talk.

Moreover, Facebook Portal is amazing for brands and startups who are planning to steam a live event to their customers. Or people who love to steam their wedding and birthday party to friends and family.

The core difference between Portal & Portal Plus

The primary difference is about size. Facebook Portal has 720p resolution with a 10.1-inch screen. While Facebook Portal Plus is 1080p resolution with a 15.6-inch screen.

Screen orientation is also different. In Portal, you are just stuck in a landscape mode while Portal Plus allows you to switch between portrait and landscape view.

How exactly does the video calling work?

My primary concern with Facebook portal was that, I assumed that my friends also need Portal to talk with me, but as it turns out, if they have Facebook messenger app they can talk with me on Portal.

Are you looking for an award-worthy mobile app? Let’s talk!

To make a call just select the icon of your friend and say, ‘Hey Portal, call [friend].’ You can call up to 7 people at a time in a group.

There is always more to the visible eye. You can do more than just talk with your contact. You can try and play with AR masks or even share Spotify and Pandora. And yes, there is this special story mode option in which can help grandparents to read stories with AR effects and music.

What about when you’re not on call?

There things that you can do when you’re not on call. You can set up your Portal to display pictures from your photo albums, or show birthday reminders, or even weather by using a feature called Superframe. You can even play anything from Bluetooth device.

Now, for the grand question!!

Is Facebook Portal secure?  

You have every reason to be concerned, as the company’s track record is not that great.

As mentioned in the start of the blog, Facebook get access to your phone calls, how frequent that you call someone, and which are your most used apps. Having said that, everything in Facebook Portal is encrypted. From camera to the microphone and the AI tech in the portal.

Plus, an announcement from Facebook said that the camera in Facebook Portal doesn’t really recognize who you are, instead it uses computer vision, which makes the calls safer. However, Facebook do admit that they store data, keeps logs and stores the voice commands that you use on the Portal.

To address privacy concerns with Portal and Portal Plus, Facebook said the products include an electronic kill switch for the front-facing camera, as well as a cover for the lens.

“Portal voice calling is built on the Messenger infrastructure, so when you make a video call on Portal, we collect the same types of information (i.e. usage data such as length of calls, the frequency of calls) that we collect on other Messenger-enabled devices. We may use this information to inform the ads we show you across our platforms. Other general usage data, such as aggregate usage of apps, etc., may also feed into the information that we use to serve ads,” a spokesperson from Facebook

Are you still concerned? Check out Portal’s privacy policy.

Take Control on When people can call you

This is I guess one of the best features of Facebook Portal. By going in settings > Incoming Call Settings, you can set when people can call you. For instance, you can set it to home. Which means people cannot call you when you’re at work. Or if you set it to work, people will not be able to call you when you’re at home.

Anything important that you need to know?

One grand drawback is that you need to be on Facebook to use Portal. Now, if you want to send your grandma a Christmas card and she is not on Facebook, I guess you need to use Hippogriff to send your letter to her.

It’s a matter of personal choice. For people who do a lot of video calling with their friends and family, they might love Facebook Portal. But for people like me, who prefer voice calls or text messages, there is nothing of value.

Yousuf Rafi

A Caffeine dependent non-mainstream person trying to elevate small talk to medium talk. I know I will win, not immediately but definitely. I do most of the talking in my head. However, for other things, I prefer writing blogs.

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