The HomePod may have just dropped, but Apple’s not the only tech giant to be getting into the smart speaker business in 2018. According to a new report, Facebook will be launching two smart speakers this year — with July being given as “the latest” that they could make their debut.
Both of the speakers will reportedly boast 15-inch touch screens, similar to the Amazon Echo Show. They are set to be positioned as devices for video chat and social features, although an interesting note suggests they have been delayed to focus on upping the acoustic quality.
Facebook’s smart speakers, codenamed Aloha and Fiona, were first rumored last year. According to sources in the supply chain, the social networking giant originally planned to launch the devices in May, but decided to delay the speakers to perfect the “acoustic quality” of its new smart speaker.
While we’re certainly not expecting an Apple HomePod-esque emphasis on sound, it’s an interesting observation — which could be read as suggesting that Apple has already upped the game on what people are expecting from a smart speaker in terms of acoustics. (Although, to be fair, both Google and Amazon have also focused on improved acoustic quality with newer iterations of their devices.)
Facebook’s Aloha smart speaker (which will supposedly be called Portal) is supposedly more sophisticated than Fiona. It will use facial recognition to identify users via a wide-angle lens, as well as employing voice commands. The Fiona device will come with extra social networking functions and music courtesy of Sony and Universal Music.
Pegatron, which builds a number of products for Apple, is said to be Facebook’s main supplier. Facebook supposedly plans to build its own ecosystem of video consumer devices in the next five years.