Facebook’s smart speaker is on sale. The Portal and Portal+ speaker, which Facebook first revealed last month, are available just in time for the holiday shopping season, the company announced.
Facebook is also, again, trying to head off questions about its privacy policies as they relate to the gadgets, and has offered new assurances that, no, the speakers won’t spy on you.
“Facebook does not listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,” the company writes in a statement. “This means nothing you say on a Portal video call is accessed by Facebook or used for advertising purposes.”
The company adds that video calls use encryption and that its AI-powered “Smart Camera” and “Smart Sound” features run locally, meaning the data they use doesn’t touch Facebook’s servers. Facebook execs also told us last month that privacy was built into “every layer” of the device.
So that sounds pretty definitive, right? Perhaps, but Facebook has clarified that some of what you do on Portal can in fact be used to serve you ads, something that was reported by Recode last month and immediately earned Facebook criticism for not making clear.
Here’s Facebook’s explanation:
Portal is integrated with some of your Messenger and Facebook experiences. When you use Portal, we process the same kinds of information as when you use Facebook products on your other devices. Some of this information, including the fact that you logged into your account or how often you use a feature or app, may be used to inform the ads you see across Facebook.
Yes, your calls with Portal may be private but, as with so many other features on Facebook, the fact that you’re even using it will inform the company’s ads in some way.
In any case,if you can get past that, the Portal speakers are priced fairly competitively compared with other products. The smaller Portal costs $199 and the larger Portal+ is $349. Facebook is also giving a $100 discount to anyone who buys two of the devices. Both are are available on Facebook’s website, Amazon, and Best Buy.