Facebook Delays Unveiling of Echo Show Competitor (Report)

Facebook has scrapped plans to unveil a smart speaker with video chat capabilities at its f8 developer conference in early May, according to a Bloomberg report. The change of plans comes in light of the recent privacy backlash, which reportedly also prompted the company to revisit some privacy safeguards for the project.

Facebook had reportedly been working on a smart speaker that doubles as a video chat device, similar to Amazon’s Echo Show, for some time. The company has yet to publicly acknowledge its plans for such a project, but was set to unveil it at its f8 event on May 1 before making it commercially available towards the end of the year, according to Bloomberg.

The device is likely going to mimic some of the functionality of existing smart speakers, which monitor their environment for so-called hot-words like “Okay Google” or “Alexa.”  Upon hearing it, they kick into high gear and transmit audio to the cloud to answer questions, deliver personalized news, music and more.

In addition to this fairly standard set of features, Facebook’s device reportedly also makes use of facial recognition to easily let users initiate video calls with their contacts.  However, the outfall over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal would likely not have provided the best context for the introduction of a device capable of voice and video recognition.

In fact, the company is now rethinking how to handle some of the data gathered by the device, The Information reported Wednesday. Instead of uploading facial recognition data to the cloud, it might process it locally on the device itself — an approach that mirrors the way Apple uses biometric data to unlock the iPhone X.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

More Digital

  • Recording Studio

    Cloud-Based Music Mastering Platform Landr Raises $26 Million

    Cloud-based music mastering and distribution platform Landr has raised a $26 million Series B round of funding. The new founding round was led by the Sony Innovation Fund, microphone manufacturer Shure, state-owned financing corporation Investissement Québec and Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Warner Music, Plus Eight Equity Partners, Slaight Communications, YUL Ventures and PEAK Capital Partners [...]

  • NBC News - Quibi

    NBC News to Produce Two Daily Shows for Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi

    NBC News has joined Quibi’s ambitious bid to build a mobile subscription TV service. NBCUniversal’s news division plans to build a custom set at 30 Rock where it will produce daily morning and evening newscasts, seven days per week, for Quibi, the well-funded mobile video startup from chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman. The [...]

  • patreon logo

    Patreon Raises $60 Million in New Funding

    Membership services startup Patreon just got a major cash infusion: The company announced Tuesday that it has raised a $60 million Series D round of funding led by Glade Brook Capital. Existing investors Thrive Capital, Initialized, Index Ventures, DFJ, Freestyle Capital, Charles River Ventures and Otherwise participated in the funding round as well, which brings [...]

  • Picture shows: MAKING OF - Underwater

    Netflix Orders 'Oceans' Natural History Series From 'Blue Planet II' Creator

    Netflix has ordered a multi-part natural history series on the world’s oceans from Freeborne Media, the production outfit of acclaimed natural-history producer James Honeyborne, who created “Blue Planet II.” Each of the series’ episodes will focus on a different ocean, “combining the disciplines of oceanography, geography and earth sciences to experience these characteristics in new [...]

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Adds Five Original Series to India Slate

    Streaming giant Netflix has added five originals across genres to its India series slate. “Bombay Begums”, created, written and directed by Alankrita Shrivastava (“Lipstick Under My Burkha”), will follow the varied journeys of five women who bond in contemporary urban India. The series is executive produced by Chernin Entertainment (“The Greatest Showman”) and EndemolShine India [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content