Fast-forward to this Monday, and after the reported delay, Facebook has quietly unveiled the Portal video-chat and smart speaker platform.
The cameras and microphones on Facebook's Portal smart home devices automatically track the subject as they move around and minimise background noise when applicable. Made as a smart-speaker with a strong focus on video chatting, the Portal lets you play music through popular streaming services, and chat with friends using Facebook's Messenger. The regular Port has a 10-inch 1280 x 800 display, and looks like any other random smart display.
The $349 Portal+ has a 15-inch, 1920×1080 display that can pivot into portrait and landscape modes.
Facebook has just announced that its long-awaited video chat devices Portal and Portal+ are now available to preorder in the U.S., with shipping due to commence in November. You get $100 off if you buy any two devices, and they'll ship at some point in November. And the company is clearly aware of that - so the device is created to respect your privacy, at least according to Facebook.
The Portal also takes advantage of the best part about Facebook: photos.
The speaker will go on sale in the USA in November.
However, the second version of Portal - called Portal Plus - is a whole different beast. Facebook also says it won't store any of the video sent through the camera on the computers in its data centers.
Facebook is marketing the device, called Portal, as a way for its more than 2 billion users to chat with one another without having to fuss with positioning and other controls.
All of the video chatting features you would find on Facebook are there, including group chat with multiple people, stickers, and effects.
Facebook is hoping Portal and Portal Plus will be on people's holiday gift-giving lists. This marks Facebook's first physical product aside from the Oculus virtual reality headset which Facebook acquired in 2014.
They said Portal is available at Amazon and Best Buy stores in addition to Facebook.com and starts shipping to USA customers in early November. You can bring Portal home for $199 United States dollars and Portal+ for $349 USD.
In addition to their price and size differences, the Portal+ has a more powerful speaker that includes two tweeters with high-range frequency and a single, four-inch bass speaker for richer sound. If you still don't trust that it also has a built-in cover to stop the camera from spying on you, though that doesn't prevent it from listening to what you're doing - and taking voice commands. Select content partners like Spotify ($SPOT), Pandora ($P), Food Network, and Newsy are integrated into the devices at launch, with plans to add more services over time. You can delete your Portal's voice history in your Facebook Activity Log at any time. It doesn't use facial recognition, it doesn't record your calls, it doesn't run on Facebook servers, and it comes with a cover you can slide over the camera, Facebook says.