Friends and family receiving new Portal devices for Christmas will have some extra stocking stuffers in the form of new AR features.
On Tuesday, Facebook unleashed a cornucopia of new features and functionality for the video calling device, including new AR content for the Story Time app and some AR additions specifically for the Portal TV device.
Arriving via a software update, the new content for the Story Time library includes AR editions of classic tales Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears along with stories from more modern characters, namely Llama Llama, Pete the Cat, and Otto.
For the uninitiated, Story Time enables Portal users to narrate children's stories over video calls, with augmented reality effects courtesy of Spark AR that dress-up the reader in virtual costumes.
Portal TV has also added a new feature called Mic Drop. Equal parts TikTok and Guitar Hero, the Mic Drop app puts users on a virtual stage and challenges them to perform songs by the likes of the Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry, Coldplay, and others.
With AR effects, users can also give themselves various rock star looks, ranging from hippie to punk to '80s rocker. Users can also share gifs of their antics to share with others.
The update also brings the Photo Booth, previously available on the standalone members of the Portal family, to Portal TV users.
The Photo Booth app enables users to take photos and video, complete with Spark AR effects, through the Portal TV camera and send them to Messenger recipients. Photo Booth also gives Portal users the ability to record a video message for missed calls.
Other features unrelated to augmented reality include the addition of new streaming media apps, including Amazon Prime, FandangoNow, and Sling TV, as well as support for Workplace accounts and login via Whatsapp.
Based our hands-on with Portal TV, Facebook has demonstrated the capability to leverage its Spark AR platform for televisions, a realm left mostly unexplored by most of the AR industry. With these latest updates, Facebook is demonstrating confidence that its Portal devices can serve as a means to further penetrate the mainstream consumer market with augmented reality experiences.
That's a big advantage, where familiarity on other platforms, whether mobile or TV, could influence consumers to pick a side in the eventual AR smartglasses wars.