How Does Portal Work?

How to set up and use Facebook Portal

person on video chat

 Tim Robberts / The Image Bank / Getty

If you're interested in adding a smart assistant to your home, you may be wondering how the Facebook Portal device stacks up to other smart devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. If so, you're in the right place.This article looks at everything you can do with the Facebook Portal.

How to Set Up Facebook Portal

Whichever version of Facebook Portal you pick up, you will go through the same set up process.

You need a Facebook account in order to use a Facebook Portal. Make sure you have set that up prior to purchasing your Portal.

Before you get started, think about where you want to set up your Portal. Some things to consider:

  • You'll want a flat, stable surface that you'll be comfortable looking at. One of the main draws of the Facebook Portal is video chat, so you'll want to have it in a place you spend a lot of time and feel comfortable with other people seeing.
  • Portals swivel to track your movement, so make sure it has room to rotate.
  • Avoid anything that might be dangerous to electronics: direct heat sources, water, etc.

Once you've selected the location:

  1. Plug the included power cord into your Portal, then into a wall outlet.

  2. Follow the onscreen instructions to connect your Portal to your WiFi Network and then sign in to your Facebook Account.

  3. You will also have different setup options—things like linking your Portal to Amazon Alexa, adding other Facebook profiles, or connecting your device to other apps.

Place Streaming Video Calls on Facebook Portal

The main draw of Facebook Portal is streamlining video chats. Once your Portal is set up, just say the wakeup phrase ("Hey Portal") and then tell it to call a friend. It uses the Facebook Messenger interface, so whoever you call will need to have this option enabled.

Your Portal will swivel to track you, and will also zoom in or out as needed. You can still use your Portal to do other things while you are video chatting, but you will need to use the touchscreen interface to do so.

What Other Things Can Facebook Portal Do?

Since your Facebook Portal has access to a variety of voice activated smart assistants, it also has access to a variety of other features outside of video calling. Here are some of the other things you can do with your Facebook Portal:

  • Listen to Music: Facebook Portal has access to a variety of music apps, like Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and others. If you have accounts with any of these services, you'll need to link those accounts to have access to any premium subscriptions.
  • Watch TV and Movies: You can also set up streaming video accounts so you can watch videos and movies. Find a recipe video and follow along, or sing along with your favorite music videos, etc.
  • Set Up Photos, Weather, and Birthday Reminders: If you load up your Settings, you can access an app called Superframe. There are several options available to you on Superframe—you can add photos from your Facebook profile to cycle through when the device isn't in use, set up weather alerts, and even add birthday reminders from your Facebook friends.
  • Play Games: Your Portal has access to many of the games that are optimized through Facebook. Things like Sudoku and crossword puzzles are available directly on your device.

Is Facebook Portal Secure?

Trust can be an issue with smart devices, especially with the negative press Facebook has received. There are two different ways to block access to the Portal's camera:

  • A cover is included that will block the camera; and
  • Each device has a button that will disconnect both the camera and microphone.

If you use the button to disconnect, you will have to press it again to turn them back on.

facebook portal camera cover

Facebook also claims they do not listen to or store your video chats in any way.

There are a lot of options available to you if you want to add a smart assistant to your home. Facebook Portal is a good way to go if you plan on doing a lot of video chatting. It has other available features, but video chatting is the central draw.

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