Facebook Portal update adds Netflix, Zoom, and new AR stories

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Facebook has announced an update for its Portal products that add support for one of the most common streaming entertainment apps on the market, Netflix, as well as a few other notable features, including two that leverage the smart camera. The new support joins the relatively large number of apps that already support Portal TV, including certain third-party video conferencing apps that have become popular during the pandemic.

As far as connected TVs and smart displays go, Facebook’s Portal TV is certainly not the most popular. If you’ve never heard of the device, this is the simplified version: it’s a fancy webcam-like device that connects to your home TV, enabling experiences like augmented reality stories and video conferencing that aren’t possible with your ordinary television.

There are some notable upsides to Portal TV, assuming you don’t mind using a Facebook product; they include the camera’s ability to pan and zoom automatically to follow the people in the frame, essentially making it a smart operator that works to produce a higher-end video experience. This is useful for video chatting with other people, of course, and could be particularly useful for people who are working from home.

In its latest update, Facebook says its smart camera platform has added support for Netflix, which itself joins Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, and SHOWTIME. Facebook says it is rolling out the Netflix support on Portal TV in all markets where the device is sold. Coming alongside the app is a new remote control with dedicated buttons for launching Facebook Watch, Netflix, and Prime Video.

In addition, Facebook has announced Zoom on Portal for conducting video calls through the platform. Up to 25 participants can be displayed on the screen during a Zoom meetup; the support covers Portal, Portal+, and Portal Mini. This is joined by new AR stories that will roll out on Portal devices later this fall, including “A Kids Book About Belonging,” “Thank You, Omu!,” and “Grandma’s Purse.” A few Dr. Seuss stories are also arriving in AR form.

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