(Pocket-lint) - Facebook has launched a bunch of new features for its Portal lineup of devices, such as Messenger Rooms and custom backgrounds, all of which are designed to improve your calling and entertainment experiences. Some of the new features are also similar to functionality already available in competitor apps like Zoom. Here's everything you need to know about the Portal's new features.

What's new with Facebook Portal?

See the gallery above for photos of the new features.

Messenger Rooms

Messenger Rooms were technically announced last month, but they're now available. They're essentially video group calls of up to 50 people.

Custom backgrounds

Now, when on a Portal Messenger or Messenger Room call, you can blur your background or replace it with a pre-selected image.

Go live

You can go "live" from Portal to Facebook Pages and Groups. Previously, the Facebook Live app on Portal would let you broadcast to your personal profile. This functionality has been expanded to now include your Pages and Groups.

Photo ops and AR effects

You can now share photos from your phone using the Portal mobile app while on a Messenger call. Facebook is also offering things to do during your call; you can send AR virtual cards or enjoy new Story Time stories (The Okay Book by Todd Parr and How To Eat Pizza by Jon Burgerman).

Hey Portal for Brits

Lastly, in the coming weeks, “Hey Portal” will support commands in British English as well as the ability to start WhatsApp call.

When can you try Portal's new features?

Facebook said these updates started going live from 16 June 2020. 

How to update your Facebook Portal

Your Portal software will automatically update when connected to Wi-Fi and turned on. You can also manually update, however. To manually update the software on your Portal, Portal+, or Portal Mini, follow these steps:

  1. From Home, tap to open Settings.
  2. Tap About.
  3. Tap Check for Updates.

Want to know more?

You can learn more in Facebook's blog post here.

Writing by Maggie Tillman.