Facebook is pushing ahead with the next version of its Portal devices.
The company could launch a new, TV-connected Portal this fall, according to a new report in The Information. The device would have similar video calling capabilities as the current lineup of speakers, but would connect to televisions and possibly feature streaming services.
The Information reports Facebook has had talks with Hulu, Disney, HBO, Netflix, and Amazon in an effort to integrate their streaming services into the device.
Reports of the TV-connected device first surfaced last year, but it was unclear what platforms it might support other than Facebook’s own Watch service. While it’s still unclear which of the new streaming services might ultimately be part of Portal, the addition of new TV functionality would make Portal more of a direct competitor to set-top boxes and streaming devices, like the Fire TV.
The first generation of Portal speakers were standalone devices centered around video calling.
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But a fall launch would line up with previous comments made by Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth, who oversees Facebook’s hardware efforts. Bosworth said in June there would be new Portal devices launching in the fall, including “new form factors.”
Even with new features, the Facebook-branded devices, which were heavily discounted earlier this year, could continue to be a tough sell. Adding the ability to stream TV shows could make them more attractive to users, but the company will still likely have to contend with its own issues around user privacy.
Facebook just agreed to pay a $5 billion FTC fine for privacy violations, so it’s understandable if people aren’t particularly excited to put Facebook’s camera-enabled gadgets in their homes. (Facebook says it doesn’t track information related to video calling, though some Portal activity can in fact be used to serve you targeted advertising.)