Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook enjoyed a boost in sales of Portal, its smart video cameras with AR effects, as social distancing became the norm.
Now, with the pandemic continuing despite the deployment of several vaccines, the Portal portfolio is positioned to become your dedicated Zoom device as well.
On Wednesday, Facebook updated Portal TV, the smart camera/streaming box hybrid for televisions, to support GoToMeeting and Zoom.
The company previously extended support for these platforms to its standalone Portal devices, which also support BlueJeans and Webex. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the company plans to bring support for BlueJeans and Webex to Portal TV at a later date.
Zoom on Portal also supports the popular virtual backgrounds that add a spark of fun to drab video conference calls. In addition, Zoom on Portal TV brings much of the same functionality available on desktop and mobile, including breakout rooms, calendar integration, and screen sharing.
The virtual meeting apps leverage Portal features like Smart Camera, which follows you around as you walk and talk so that you remain in the frame for your audience, and Smart Sound, which reduces background noise (such as the landscaper who conveniently arrives during your weekly client checkpoint call).
However, the video apps do not have access to the augmented reality effects powered by its Spark AR platform, which are available for Messenger video calls. This is a key distinction, since Snap Camera has emerged as the default method for adding AR effects to desktop Zoom calls as well as other video platforms.
The pandemic appears to be on its way out the door and some companies are beginning to plan on moving some employees back to work. However, now that companies have gotten a taste of the remote work life, it appears that it will stick around, with the majority of workers preferring remote offices.
While Portal launched as a consumer device, Facebook now has a foothold in offering the device as a remote work solution as well. And its proliferation of AR camera effects could end up threatening Snap's place in that ecosystem.