Forward-looking: Facebook’s Portal video chat devices haven’t exactly set the world on fire since their release last year, and privacy concerns are still an issue for many people. But this hasn’t stopped the social network from creating new versions of the Portal, which are set to arrive in the fall.
The news comes from Facebook Vice President of AR/VR, Andrew "Boz" Bosworth, who was speaking on stage at Recode’s Code Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. He said the company is releasing "new form factors" because "there's a whole new generation of hardware coming out."
Bosworth wouldn’t reveal exactly how many Portal and Portal Plus devices had been sold since their launch, but he described the numbers as “really good.” A camera-sporting device made by a company that doesn’t have the best reputation for user privacy sounds like a recipe for disaster, and things were looking bad when Facebook admitted the Portals could collect user data for ad targeting, but the Plus model has a 4.1 out of 5 rating on Amazon, likely helped by its $70 price reduction—and this is after Facebook told its employees to remove their five-star Portal reviews from the site.
Exactly what these new Portal form factors will look like is unclear, though TechCrunch believes it could be the “Ripley” device that appeared in Portal firmware code late last year. Cheddar wrote that Ripley was a camera that could sit on top of a regular TV, with the video feed sent directly to the screen. This should mean a reduction in price as no dedicated video chat hardware would be needed.
We’ll no doubt discover more details of the new Portal devices before their fall launch.