Facebook today announced an upgrade for its Portal smart displays: namely, they’ll soon support various videoconferencing apps. So if you — like most people right now — are communicating with friends, family, or colleagues primary via the use of these apps, Facebook’s marketing is now squarely aimed at you.
The apps it plans to support include Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, and BlueJeans. The apps will initially be available on the Portal, the Portal Mini, and the Portal+, with support for Portal TV to come later. This would make Facebook the third company today adding Zoom support to its smart device: Google today announced it was adding Zoom support to Assistant displays, and Amazon’s adding it to the Echo Show sometime later this year.
The company emphasizes the Portal’s use as a business tool, which it’s been slowly building up for a while. Facebook’s rolled out Workplace, its answer to Slack, on Portal earlier this year. To use the company’s own words in today’s announcement: “We’re also adding a way for you to use Portal as a dedicated work device for calling co-workers and participating in meetings. Instead of logging into Portal with Facebook or WhatsApp, you will have the option of creating a free Workplace login in the coming weeks.”
I suspect Facebook’s taking advantage of the world situation, adding in functions we’re all using more than usual to try and get us to buy their little screens. Remote working is on the rise out of necessity, and it’s an attractive thought to have a dedicated smart display to use for videoconferencing. The addition of these apps to Workplace would make them more attractive for professionals, and the Portal has a few entertainment options that make it even more valuable to remote workers. We don’t do videoconferencing every second — when we’re alone, it helps to be able to play a song or a podcast on Spotify.
Facebook plans to add support for the apps in September.