Facebook Portal is getting a lot more useful with third-party video calling apps

Facebook Portal is getting a little more useful, with the video calling screen adding a number of new third-party apps for those who use Zoom and other platforms. The new update sees Webex, GoToMeeting, and BlueJeans – along with Zoom – being added to Portal, broadening the smart display’s usefulness in this time of working-from-home.

Initially, BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, Webex, and Zoom will be supported on the Portal Mini, Portal, and Portal+ from September of this year. Facebook says it intends to roll out support for the services on Portal TV – its camera-toting adapter which plugs into your TV – “in the future,” though there’s no public timescale for that.

While there’s no shortage of ways to log into those video calling services these days, including smartphones, tablets, and a computers, Facebook Portal does have a few potential advantages. One big one is the Smart Camera, which emulates a pan/tilt/zoom lens by tracking the subject of the call and cropping the video of them to suit. That way, even if you’re moving around the room, you should be still centered in the frame.

Portal also has better microphones than most phones and tablets will, too, with background noise cancellation. A button disables both microphone and camera for times you don’t want to be reachable – with a red light to show if it’s switched on – and there’s also an integrated camera cover that physically blocks the lens for maximum privacy.

As for Facebook’s own business-focused calling product, Workplace, that’s also getting some upgrades. Workplace on Portal is now available across the range, including on Portal TV, and it’s getting background support for video calls too. If you want to use Portal solely for work purposes, it’ll soon be possible to create a free Workplace account rather than use Facebook or WhatsApp credentials to log into a Portal.

Portal shows a calendar view of upcoming meetings, and BlueJeans and Zoom both support whiteboard functionality where you can sketch and annotate with a finger on the touchscreen. GoToMeeting and Zoom will also support the PIN code security that Workplace on Portal already offers, limiting access to meetings and calendar. You’ll also be able to use the services’ screen sharing feature when other call participants share their screens.

Facebook Portal Mini is priced at $129 with an 8-inch display, while Portal is $179 with its 10-inch display. Portal+ is $279 and has a 15.6-inch display that can rotate between portrait and landscape orientations. Finally, Portal TV is $149.

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