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Facebook is rumored to have been working on a smart speaker with a touchscreen since last year. A latest DigiTimes report now suggests the company plans to enter the consumer electronics market with not one but two smart speakers; Aloha and Fiona. The report also reveals that the smart speakers could launch as soon as mid-2018. Do note that, Alone and Fiona are the codenames, and the devices will be called by different names when launched.
According to the report, Aloha and Fiona will come with 15-inch touchscreens manufactured by LG. While the smart speakers were initially scheduled to launch in May, Facebook has decided to take some more time "for perfecting the acoustic quality of the gadgets and software modification." The company now aims to release the devices in July this year. The news comes from supply chain sources.
Aloha and Fiona are reportedly being manufactured by Facebook's secretive Building 8 lab. The former is said to be a more advanced model and it could be launched with the official name Portal. It will probably come with the ability to follow voice commands. Further, the smart speaker is also likely to be equipped with facial recognition technology to identify users.
Last month, there was a report claiming that Facebook could be prepping the launch of a home video chat device dubbed as "Portal". Interestingly, its features described in the previous report match with that of Aloha. Portal is rumored to carry a price tag of $499 (approximately Rs. 31,735).
Coming back to the DigiTimes report, it says Aloha aka Portal will offer more social networking functions. The company seems to have signed deals with Sony and Universal Music, which may add more features into the smart speakers.
If you are wondering about the Fiona smart speaker, unfortunately the report has not mentioned much. This is why we come to conclusion that it could be more focused on video calling.
The news of Facebook's sudden entry into the foray of voice activated devices doesn't really come as a surprise. In recent time, AI-powered smart speakers have been generating a lot of interest among the customers. While currently, Amazon's Echo is dominating the market, Google Home is not far behind. Apple has also launched its own smart speaker called HomePod which is powered by Siri.