Facebook 'Portal' to compete with Echo Show, report says

Step aside, Amazon Echo Show: Word has it that Facebook is developing its own home video chat device.

According to a report from streaming news service Cheddar, the new voice-controlled device, dubbed Portal, may be priced at $499. Cheddar's sources say Facebook is planning to unveil the device in early May and begin selling it via pop-up stores and online in the second half of the year.

It will reportedly feature a screen on the front like Amazon's Echo Show and Lenovo's new Android Assistant-equipped Smart Display, plus a camera with a wide-angle lens and facial-recognition technology that will help users connect with their Facebook accounts. The device may also play nice with streaming services like Spotify and Netflix so people can use it to play music, TV shows, and movies.

"Facebook employees have internally referred to the video chat device with the codename 'Aloha' but recently settled on the name Portal—an indication that product development has progressed," the report notes.

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When contacted by PCMag on Tuesday, Facebook declined to comment. "We're not commenting on this speculative report," a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Cheddar reported that Portal will be part of a "suite of consumer products" Facebook is cooking up in a hardware lab called Building 8 to compete with devices from Amazon, Google, and Apple.

"CEO Mark Zuckerberg has told employees that he doesn't care if the [Portal] device generates profit but rather wants it to change user behavior and encourage phone-like usage among owners," Cheddar reported.

Thus far, Facebook's hardware efforts have largely focused on so-called "Facebook phones," but that never really went anywhere.

Rumors about Portal come after Facebook last month started using facial-recognition technology to notify users when someone uploads their image without tagging them. The social network has also been testing a facial-recognition account recovery system to help users get back into their account after it's locked.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.