Facebook Portal is a controversial device because it is Facebook's way of sticking a camera and microphone in your home. If that wasn't unsettling enough, it now wants to invade your business, literally.
The social network is allowing Portal users to access an enterprise version of its Slack-like Workplace app in order to place video and audio calls through the Portal itself. It'll, therefore, be positioned to better take on Microsoft Skype, BlueJeans, and even Zoom to a degree, not to mention it'll be further be going after Slack, which currently dominates the business chat space.
Facebook launched its Workplace service in 2016. It works a lot like the standard version of Facebook, but it's designed to connect employees within the same company. Workplace currently has three million people paid users, up from two million in February, according to Facebook.
When we reviewed the Portal+ last month, we noted how limiting the device felt to use, although we still liked it overall. For instance, while you could use to place Messenger video calls, you couldn't see your Messenger threads or your Facebook timeline. Even Facebook's Watch video hub seemed like an afterthought, and YouTube video was limited to its rudimentary browser.
Now, with Workplace, Portal is starting to feel like a more integrated, useful device. We could see small teams and businesses adopting this new Portal and Workplace setup as a way of providing a more engaging communication experience, especially for remote workers.
Keep in mind Facebook recently announced more new Portal smart displays, including a version that lets you chat from your TV. So it appears to be accelerating not only an assault on enterprise chat apps, but also moving speedily along with its own hardware goals.
Facebook also unveiled other new Workplace features this week, including automatic captions for videos and badges for employee achievements.