Facebook today at its F8 developer conference announced that it will make both Portal and Portal+ available outside of the US, starting with Canada this June and following with a European expansion in the fall.
Portal originally only launched in the U.S. As the company’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted during his F8 keynote today, the service has done better than the company expected. Given that it launched right during some of Facebook’s biggest privacy scandals, that’s a bit of a surprise, though we don’t know what Facebook’s own expectations were, of course, or how many of the device it has sold.
Portal is also getting support for additional Alexa skills, including news briefings, and smart home support, all courtesy of Facebook’s partnership with Amazon.
Facebook is now itself bringing Whatsapp and also encrypted video calls to Portal and is adding support for Facebook Live broadcasting. The latter will be effectively allowing Portal owners to produce their own live streams, with some help from the device’s AI capabilities, which will automatically be tracking subjects and keeping them in focus in its video streams. The company is also adding new ways to look at photos in Portal, and bringing Instant Games and games with augmented reality effects to the device.
Portal will also be serving as a better photo frame. As of now, you can only add your favorite photos from Instagram to Superframe, rather than just Facebook itself. But now a new mobile app will also let you send photos to Superframe straight from your device’s camera roll sometime in the summer.
Still, some of the new features announced on Tuesday should make it a little easier for Facebook to position Portal in competition to other smart displays, including Amazon’s own Echo Show.