Facebook Is Betting People Are Still Hungry For Another Heaping Ladle of Portal

Illustration for article titled Facebook Is Betting People Are Still Hungry For Another Heaping Ladle of Portal
Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

Facebook isn’t done with its spiffy new Portal video phones. You know, the ones which got largely favorable reviews, but are virtually impossible to fully trust, given they came out after months (years, really) of massive privacy scandals for the globe-spanning social media giant and are totally capable of spying on their owners for advertising purposes.


According to reports from TechCrunch and CNBC on Monday evening, Facebook’s vice president of augmented and virtual reality Andrew Bosworth told attendees at the Code Conference in Phoenix that new editions of the device are coming in fall 2019.

“We have a lot more that we’re going to unveil later in this fall, new form factors that we’re going to be shipping,” Bosworth said. Why, you ask? Some nonsense about hardware finally “coming to the home”:

“The reason we’re doing this is because we think there’s a whole new generation of hardware coming out. Hardware is coming to the home, and we want to make sure that human connection, connection between two people, is a first-party experience on that hardware.”

Sure, whatever.

Bosworth reportedly declined to name an exact number of Portal devices Facebook has sold but claimed the numbers were “really good.” According to TechCrunch, one of the ideas rumored to be on the table is a device that can be mounted on and use a television display. That would both be cheaper than its current line of dedicated hardware (which debuted in the $200-$350 range but have fluctuated wildly in price since) and increase the likelihood of it being positioned centrally in a home:

Most signs point to this device being the “Ripley” device that popped up in Portal firmware code late last year. Cheddar had reported that the camera device would attach to the top of a TV and pipe the video feed to its screen. This cuts down on the need to have a wholly dedicated video chat device and allows Facebook to put their hardware in more central locations in people’s homes.

If you’ve decided you are fine with giving Facebook access to a high-definition, voice-activated video phone in your house, such a device may indeed be the most seamless way to do that. C’est la vie.

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it’s hard to see how this fits in though. it is much more convenient to just take out your phone, or pick up your tablet and chat that way. all the while not tied down to a single location tethered to an electrical outlet. adding it to the TV makes it no less annoying. now you have turn on your TV, change the input, sit on the couch or whatever. it just makes more sense to use your portable phone or tablet.