Facebook’s foray into hardware may actually be happening. Its new smart speakers will be available starting in July, according to a Digitimes report published Wednesday.

Portal, the Facebook-connected video chat device will reportedly have two models announced at the social media company’s developer conference in May. The smart  speakers are code-named Aloha and Fiona, respectively, will then be available to order in July, according to a report from Digitimes based on leaks from supply chain sources outfitting the devices. It will also have some sort of facial recognition features built-in to login into Facebook instantly. Aloha is reportedly the code-name of Facebook’s Portal, a $499 (or approx Rs 31,898) that was rumoured to launch at CES 2018.

The speakers will have 15-inch touchscreens, but one of the models will be higher quality — something like a Google Home and Google Home Max. The main device, Portal, will include facial recognition and voice-controlled technology.

Bloomberg first reported that Facebook might be working on a video chat device – a smart speaker that would rival the Amazon Echo and Google Home. The speaker would come with a “siri-style voice assistant”.

The devices won’t just be for video chatting and social media — Facebook has music licensing contracts with Sony and Universal, according to the Digitimes story.

Portal was first leaked last year and more details in January revealed the product as an Amazon Echo Show competitor.

Last week, Apple finally made the HomePod available in the US, UK, and Australia. This is the company’s first smart speaker powered by Siri voice-assistant. Apple’s HomePod retails for $349 (0r approx Rs 22,316).

The smart speakers are expected to be the first devices to be coming from Facebook’s  Building 8,  a secretive division working on upcoming hardware products. Facebook is taking on the big players like Google, Amazon, and Apple with its smart speaker. Better hope first time’s the charm.



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