February 24, 2018

Facebook smart speakers Aloha and Fiona to launch by July, report says

15 February 2018, 08:10 | Hattie Nash

Facebook set to launch two smart speakers in July 2018


However, it's quite clear that Facebook is grooming the upcoming smart speakers to be direct rivals of Amazon's best-selling device, the Echo Show.

Ultimately, Facebook's success in the smart speaker world will likely be determined by the quality of its A.I. assistant.

Amazon outfitted the Echo Show with a 7-inch screen so that it could have a display panel that serves as an extension of the device's functions.

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How will the two 15 inch smart speakers be differentiated?

Facebook's "Aloha" smart speaker is said to be the "premium" version of its two devices - tipped to be sold under the official name of "Portal".

According to Digitimes, citing sources in the supply chain, Facebook's smart speakers are code-named Fiona and Aloha, with the latter to be called Portal when it goes on sale.

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He also says that the smart speaker industry "will be a tough nut to crack for Facebook", and that it would be "an Everest-like uphill climb to compete with the likes of Amazon". Both devices were allegedly due for a May release initially but Facebook wanted to give itself more time to flawless sound and software.

Aloha, which will be marketed as "Portal", will be more sophisticated than Fiona - offering facial recognition technology on top of the use of voice commands. Support for video chat and other social features are also included. A wide-angle lens on the front of the device will be able to recognize users. An important thing for any smart home speaker is of course the ability to play music and dance around the house, so you might be interested to know that Facebook has signed music licensing contracts with both Sony and Universal Music. With speakers themselves becoming ubiquitous, it's important to set the product apart with a powerful differentiator - which may wind up being some interesting integrations with Facebook itself. Prices for either the Aloha or Fiona have not been leaked.

This is only the beginning though, as according to sources, Facebook intends to produce and entire range of video enabled devices and the touch-screen smart home speaker is the first of these developments.

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