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Facbook

Facebook is launching two in-home video chat hardware devices, the company announced Monday.

Why it matters: The devices will help Facebook collect more data about how people use technology services, like voice assistants and long-form video, in their home.

The details: The company is announcing two new devices: Portal ($199 USD) and Portal+ ($349 USD). Portal+ is bigger.

  • The devices, which include Amazon Alexa voice assistant technology, let users connect to a plethora of media apps, like Spotify, Pandora and iHeartMusic, as as well as Facebook's TV-competitor app, Facebook Watch.
  • It also includes voice calling and a smart camera that automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view.

Between the lines: While the company has dabbled with some hardware products, like its Oculus Rift VR headset, it typically makes most of its money from software, mostly advertising. This opens up a new revenue stream for the company — hardware sales — but it will also increase engagement to Facebook-owned apps, which are linked to the devices.

The bigger picture: Facebook is facing multiple investigations in the U.S. and around the world for its data-based practices. Facebook says the Portal gives users tools to control privacy settings. Facebook says it doesn’t "listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls."

Go deeper

DOJ announces sweeping probe into Minneapolis policing practices

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday announced that the Justice Department will open a sweeping investigation into whether the Minneapolis Police Department has a "pattern or practice" of discriminatory policing practices.

Why it matters: The federal probe, which will also examine MPD's handling of misconduct allegations, could result in significant changes to policing in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

38 mins ago - World

South Korean president: Trump "beat around the bush and failed" on North Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaking in Seoul in March 2021. Photo: Jeon Heon-Kyun/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

South Korean President Moon Jae-in criticized former President Trump's attempts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, telling the New York Times he "beat around the bush" with North Korea and "failed to pull it through."

Why it matters: Moon, now in his final year in office, called denuclearization a "matter of survival" for South Korea and urged President Biden to resume negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after a standstill of nearly two years.

53 mins ago - World

U.S.-Israel tensions build as Iran talks progress

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Eric Baradat (AFP), Gali Tibbon (AFP)/Getty Images

As nuclear talks in Vienna enter a critical stage, the gaps and suspicions over Iran between the Israeli government and the Biden administration are growing.

Why it matters: Both sides want to avoid the kind of public fight that emerged during the negotiations over the 2015 deal. But in private, there's growing frustration on both sides about the lack of trust, coordination and transparency.