Facebook is the king of social networking, but the tech giant hasn’t made any major impact in the hardware industry. Yet. However, this could change soon with the launch of two smart speakers later this year with codenames Fiona and Aloha.
With just about every other major tech company already having something to boast about in the smart home, Facebook isn’t lagging behind either. Amazon has the Echo, Google has the Home, Apple has the HomePod and a bunch of Chinese companies, including Alibaba, have something of their own too. If anything, it was only a matter of time before the social media giant joined the party.
So, what do we know so far about the upcoming Facebook Smart Speakers? Read on.
Facebook smart speaker specs and features
- 15-inch LG in-cell display screens
- Possibly a 13-inch model to accompany it
- Magnesium-Aluminum alloy chassis
- AI camera
- Siri-like voice assistant
- A standalone smart speaker in the works too
- May use Android OS
In July 2017, DigiTimes reported that Facebook was working on a smart speaker with a 15-inch LG in-cell touchscreen, much like what Amazon has in the Echo Show, which has a 7-inch screen. It was claimed that Taiwan’s Pegatron, which also manufactures Apple’s iPhone, was building the speaker that was designed by Facebook’s Building 8.
A while later, Business Insider revealed that the device in question was codenamed Aloha and that it would be unveiled in May 2018. The report shed some more light on the device, asserting that it will feature a touchscreen, speakers and a sophisticated camera that would allow users to make video calls, among other things.
There were claims that the Facebook smart speaker, which is by all standards a smart display, will come with a smaller model housing a 13-inch screen. However, the same AI camera will be used on both devices, where it will be able to auto-frame shots and recognize objects in sight. By default, the device will need access to your Facebook or Messenger account.
One thing that remains unclear about how the Facebook smart speaker will work is the digital voice assistant. While Facebook has its own digital assistant in M, it doesn’t support voice commands. Still, it’s said that Aloha runs a voice assistant that is loosely based on Facebook’s AI chatbot.
As far as the second device is concerned, Bloomberg later revealed that it won’t be another smart display, rather, it’ll be a typical smart speaker, much like the Google Home or Amazon Echo. While we cannot rule out any possibilities of a dedicated smart speaker, fresh reports published by DigiTimes say that Facebook is, in fact, lining up two smart display speakers with 15-inch touch screens and could possibly see the light in July 2018.
Aloha is once again popping up, but this time it’s accompanied by another codename – Fiona. Apparently, the former, which will be marketed under the name Portal, will be a premium offering compared to the latter. For instance, it’ll support voice commands, facial recognition and ship with a wide-angle lens on the front.
The Portal speaker is meant to break the beloved News Feed and Facebook Messenger from the confines of your smartphone by integrating more social networking functions. In fact, Facebook has allegedly penned music deals with Sony and Universal Music in a bid to enrich the Portal’s applications.
There’s not much in the report about Fiona, but DigiTimes contradicts what Bloomberg had reported before – that the second device would be a standalone smart speaker and not another touchscreen device.
As pointed out earlier, Facebook’s M digital assistant doesn’t support voice commands. However, it’s alleged that the company is building a Siri-like assistant that will be used on both Fiona and Aloha. Still on the software side of things, it’s also alleged that Facebook is mulling over building its own operating system into the devices or maybe go with Google’s Android OS.
Facebook smart speaker price and release date
- July 2018 launch
- Price to range between $100 and $500
- Initial availability will be limited to North America and Europe
Facebook has been dead silent on this matter for obvious reasons, however, the rumor mills have been quite clear that the smart speakers will be out latest July 2018. As pointed out earlier, the speakers were meant to be unveiled in May 2018, but the company is reportedly delaying their release in order to fine-tune the devices’ aural quality and do more software optimizations.
Top 3 Smart Displays powered by Google Assistant
Although it seems too early to start talking about the price of the smart speakers, Business Insider reported that Facebook is considering pricing the smart display as high as $499, but the dedicated smart speaker could be valued at about $100.
Facebook is reportedly considering selling the two smart devices through online and offline stores, including setting up pop-up stores and going via major retailers such as Best Buy. Initially, the two Facebook speakers will be limited to North America and Europe before making their way to other markets across the globe.
What are your thoughts on Facebook’s entry into the smart home business? Let us know in your comments below.