Facebook may launch a video chat Android device and a Google Home rival in 2018

Rumors about Facebook working on a new smart speaker surfaced about a week ago, but the information wasn't entirely clear on how exactly the device will work and when it might be launched on the market. Today, a more in-depth report sheds light on Facebook's plans to take on Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Apparently, Facebook's Building 8 lab is already working on a video chat device that will be powered by Android. The social media giant doesn't consider the addition of an in-house OS for this particular device and has chosen Android, but things might change over the course of the development process.

The video chat device will feature a “laptop-sized touchscreen,” wide-angle camera lens, microphones, as well as speakers for video conferencing. All of these are said to be powered by Facebook's artificial intelligence, thus allowing for much better performance than the competition.

Prototype units of the device are already being tested in Facebook's labs. They feature touchscreen displays that measure between 13 and 15 inches diagonally, sources close to the matter confirmed.

Among the features that might come pre-installed on the device, there's one being tested right now, which would allow the camera to automatically scan for people around and lock onto them. A 360-degree camera for the same video chat device is in the works as well, but it might not make it in time for the launch.

The second product that's now in the works at Facebook is a direct Google Home and Amazon Echo competitor: a standalone smart speaker. Just like the video chat Android device, the smart speaker would be powered by a voice assistant service developed by Facebook.

As far as prices go, people familiar with Facebook's plans claim the standalone smart speaker could be priced to sell for around $100, while the video chat device will sell for “a few hundred dollars.”

Both Facebook devices are expected to be unveiled in next spring at the F8 developer conference, but they might be available on the market slightly later.

source: Bloomberg


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