Facebook was not excluded from the smart display game. The portal (and portal +, portal mini, etc.) is a social device that promotes video calls and keeps you updated on the latest Facebook news. For Facebook fans, it has become a serious competitor for smart devices, and you can see what we think about it in our review. But for those who have a portal or are about to get one, we want to focus on what exactly this smart display can do that really sets it apart. These tips will show you how to get the most out of your portal.
Manage superframe settings
Superframe, the smart screen itself, controls the photo slideshow that your portal displays when it is not actively used. This comes in handy as it will cycle through the latest photos you've shared on Facebook. However, this feature also offers numerous customization options that users should look into.
Go to Settings and you can set the cycle speed of photos (10 or 15 seconds) and most importantly, where your photos come from. This allows you to choose photos from a specific online album, your own Facebook profile, just photos you are tagged in, or photos from friends that are tagged as one of your favorites on the portal. This gives you a lot of options based on what you actually want to see from Facebook and should be one of the first things you decide to do.
Adjust the data protection functions
For those unsure of wanting to let a Facebook camera into their homes, the privacy features are a must. If you look at the top of your portal you will find a single privacy switch that can be slid to turn off the microphone and camera on the device. There is a small red light on the screen indicating that these features are off (if the light is off, the microphone and camera are on). These buttons vary slightly depending on which portal device you have. However, they are always there. Portals also come with a cover that you can use to physically cover the camera if you are particularly bothered. Try out these features and use them according to your privacy needs.
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Master Alexa skills
Portal has a compromise: it uses Alexa for its voice commands. If you've used an Echo device before you may have an idea of how Alexa works, but those new to voice assistant should invest some time learning how it works. Alexa can connect to and control many, many smart devices you may have at home. You can also activate Alexa with many specific data skills or games by browsing the Alexa skills and activating the ones you want to use. Note that many of the Alexa skills are very passive and only add new skills in the background depending on your voice commands.
It is also important to keep in mind that Alexa has no display presence on the portal. That means you can't use skills that require a display to function, and you can't use Echo Show skills like adjusting your lights using a touchscreen.
Control camera movement
The portal's camera moves to follow people in a room. This is a little unsettling, but good for frequent video calling. Double tap your face when you speak and a square will surround your face so Portal knows it is always following you. This is useful when multiple people are walking around and the camera can get confused.
Know which apps are compatible
Facebook continues to offer portal app compatibility, which allows you to use different apps directly from the portal interface. Users should keep up to date with the latest apps so they know what to use through Portal. In addition to our news section, here is a short list of some of Portal's most popular apps:
- Spotify and Pandora
- Amazon Prime Video, Showtime and other streaming services
- News channels like ABC and CNN
- Food Network
- Quick links to popular websites like YouTube, Google, Amazon, AllRecipes, NPR and Reddit for online surfing directly from the portal
- Watch what is the key to playing on your portal and a good download for everyone
Note that you can download apps to your portal at any time by going to the Home section and selecting apps that allow you to easily find and download apps you are interested in.
Customize calls and notifications
You can also customize the portal based on how you want to make calls or receive notifications. First of all, go to Settings and select Incoming Call Settings to see the options. You may want to turn on "Only when you are home". This means that calls only work in the portal when you are nearby. Otherwise, a Facebook call will go straight to your phone. Confirm on your phone and you're good to go.
There is a complementary system that works well with this: find the people you like, talk to them on Facebook using Portal, select their names and select the "i" icon in the window that appears over them is shown. Portal will then give you a warning and make a low noise if that person is actively using Facebook. This means she is likely in a good position to take calls.
Remember that people with Messenger or WhatsApp can still take calls even if they don't have a portal or smart display. Video features are not guaranteed to work, but the call should go through. Everyone on these contact lists can be reached through a portal.
"Hey Portal" commands
John Velasco / Digital Trends
In addition to Alexa, Portal has its own voice assistant that you can activate by saying "Hey, Portal". It's pretty limited, but you can use it to control all of the portal's major functions. These include "Hey portal, call (contact name)" or "Hey portal, lower brightness". You can also say "Hey Portal, good morning" for a report on the weather, scheduled events, news, and birthdays. Facebook retains and can even examine Hey Portal recordings.
If you have kids, give Story Time a try
Story Time is a mode that uses filters, face detection, and masks to activate a story. It guides you through reading along popular children's stories and provides you with masks and effects that fit the story on your way. Granted, using your portal as a bedtime storybook is a bit strange, but it's definitely something you should try at least once – and it's a feature that works with remote video calls and is fun for parents when traveling or relatives want to interact with children. Facebook updates the Story Time from time to time with new children's books.
Distant view with friends via Portal TV
Part of the appeal of Facebook Portal is staying social – even if you're just watching TV. With a portal television, you can watch videos with friends remotely. This additional feature is a unique advantage of Portal and nothing like it (yet). With the "Watch Together" function, you can link up to seven people and watch all video content from Facebook while you watch a live stream. Start by making a video call with a friend or friends, then use the Facebook Watch TV menu to start a show. Your live stream with friends is in a square in the corner of your TV, and Portal makes sure the video stays in sync for both of you.
Surf the Internet more easily
While the feature isn't exactly seamless, Portal lets you browse the web with a simple browser. However, the touch controls get old quickly. Fortunately, Portal has Bluetooth compatibility that extends to mice and keyboards. To do this, get an affordable Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and browsing will be a lot easier. By adding a few accessories, you can turn your portal into a central home computer that anyone can access when needed.
Set up a passcode
Privacy and security are essential for any service that contains data, including the portal. Setting up a passcode is important to keep people from snooping. You can quickly create a four digit code by walking into the settings and then Passcode. If the portal times out, the four-digit passcode is required to unlock. The portal also asks for the passcode when you change a setting.
Every smart display has its own unique advantages. However, the Facebook portal has a few different elements that make it the best choice for many users. With this smart display, you get a harmonious blend of the capabilities of Amazon Alexa, the social functions of Facebook and a range of apps.
Having the portal move with you is a fun perk if you love video calls but like to move around during them. Competition in the smart display market is likely to increase. It is therefore worth keeping an eye on the portal updates.