Facebook Portal is getting WhatsApp, Amazon Video - and a Europe launch

Facebook promises end-to-end encryption on all calling

Facebook Portal headed to Europe

Facebook has announced a handful of new features for its Portal smart speaker, also confirming a rollout to Europe and Canada later this year.

One of the big features being added is WhatsApp, which will be particularly relevant to the UK and the rest of the European market, where the app is more popular. Facebook promises all calls taken through Messenger and WhatsApp will have end-to-end encryption. It's adding livestreaming through Facebook Live later this year, too.

Read this: Why voice is essential to Facebook's future

Facebook's also improving the Portal as a photo frame. While users could already display their Facebook photos using Superframe, they can now show Instagram pictures. And later this summer, you'll be able to add photos directly from your phone's camera roll.

Alexa does a lot of the heavy lifting on Portal at the moment - at least until Facebook's own AI rolls out - and Facebook has announced Alexa will get new abilities including Flash Briefings and control for smart home devices, bringing it closer in line with the Echo and other third-party Alexa-powered speakers.

Speaking of amazon, you'll be able to watch Amazon Prime Video on the Portal, should that be something you can see yourself doing.

All of this was announced at Facebook's F8 conference, where Mark Zuckerberg said Portal sales had done better than expected. Without numbers it's a meaningless statement, but Facebook is clearly committed to Portal, which has the potential to become a great speaker in the fullness of time.

But to get there, Facebook has a lot of work to do repairing its image as a company that can be trusted with our privacy.

Facebook confirmed that Portal will arrive in Canada this June, with a Europe launch to happen in the fall. (Update: While the headline of this article originally stated this would include the UK, Facebook has told us that it's not yet confirming which European countries will be included, so while we'd bet that the UK will be among them, we can't say for sure).


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