Facebook’s line of Portal devices has received an update that adds some cool new features, such as an internet browser. It's also on sale.
Facebook’s Portal and the larger Portal+ will both be able to access the internet through a new, custom-made browser. Facebook is also adding support for its Instant Games platform, which includes games like Words with Friends and Battleship. Facebook said it partnered with CNN and NBC news to bring their short news features series Great Big Story to the devices, too.
On top of those features, Facebook is adding new AR effects for video calls, the ability to share music via iHeartRadio during calls, and a new feature that lets you rename other users in your house. So, you can just say "mom", instead of calling her by her first name (weird).
With all of these updates, Facebook is hoping to assuage some of the negative feedback the Portal devices received when they were first released. They just weren’t capable of doing very much, especially when compared to other smart home devices like Amazon’s Echo Show or the Google Home Hub, and it’s not immediately clear if this update will be enough to catch them up to their rivals.
Portal still lacks an app store, and while the internet browser should allow for some more uses for it, does anyone really buy the Echo Show to surf the web? On top of that, Facebook is battling near constant bad press these days, which likely isn't helping convince potential customers to let the social media giant place a physical camera in the middle of their homes.
So, to better court new users, Facebook is discounting the 10-inch Portal and the 15.6-inch Portal+ by 25 per cent. They did cost $199 and $349, respectively, but for a limited time, the Portal is just $149 on Amazon, while the Portal+ is $299. That's a $50 reduction on each model.