Depth of connection: Portal expands internationally and adds new features

Every day, people around the world spend billions of minutes on video calls across the Facebook family of apps. From moving out of your family home and graduating college to relocating for a new job, life often takes us miles away from the people who matter most. That’s why we launched Portal, a family of products designed to reduce the friction of video calling and let you feel there when you can’t physically be there. And today at F8, we shared some exciting next steps.

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International expansion + WhatsApp

We’ll launch Portal to more countries, starting with Canada in June and in Europe this fall. And in keeping with that new international focus, we’re thrilled to announce that WhatsApp is coming to Portal — and bringing end-to-end encryption with it.

More than 1.5 billion people around the world use WhatsApp every day, and we’re excited to give them an easier, more immersive way to to stay in touch. We’re also bringing end-to-end encryption to Messenger on mobile next year, so all Portal calls, whether on WhatsApp or Messenger, will be end-to-end encrypted. That also means you’ll be able to connect with any of your friends who have WhatsApp or Messenger installed on their phones, directly from Portal.

Beyond video calls

Portal already makes video calls feel more like hanging out together, and we’re excited to bring Facebook Live broadcasting to Portal to help you share with friends and family!

Until now, capturing a special moment meant missing out on it ourselves. Rather than having to hold up your phone and worry about getting everyone in the shot, Facebook Live and Smart Camera lets Portal be the cinematographer for special events — like introducing a new baby to the family or celebrating a 50th anniversary. Now your friends and family can join in from afar while you get to stay present in the moment — hands- and distraction-free.

You can already add photos from your Facebook feed to Portal, and starting today, you’ll be able to add your favorites from Instagram as well.

We also announced a new mobile app that will let you add photos to Portal’s Superframe directly from your phone. Imagine going to a graduation party, taking photos throughout the event, and being able to relive the event when you arrive home because you had already uploaded the shots from your camera roll while en route. You can also use the app to add people in your house as Portal owners and add “favorites” who you call most often.

Spark AR spotlight: Instant Games + Story Time

We’re adding Instant Games to Portal, bringing new meaning to family game night as the competition unfolds on a video call. We’re also adding multiplayer AR games that use Smart Camera to put you in the center of the game, as well as new AR effects on a monthly basis to keep things fresh and fun.

These effects are built on the Spark AR platform, which also powers Story Time — one of the most popular experiences with video calls on Portal. And this Summer, we’re bringing three new, award-winning children’s book series to Story Time: Llama Llama, Pete the Cat, and Otto.

Not only that, because Story Time has proven so popular with families, we’re adding a standalone app on Portal so you can read stories together — over and over — even when you’re not on a call.

“Hey Portal, good morning”

Starting this Summer, you can also get updates from your friends and family when you say, “Hey Portal, good morning.” From birthdays to upcoming events and more, this is a quick and easy way to stay plugged in to the important moments in your loved ones’ lives.

You’ll also be able to leave people a private video message on Portal if they aren’t free to chat.

More Alexa visual skills + Amazon Prime Video app

We’re building on our work with Amazon with adding more visual features and Alexa skills on Portal. Start your day by asking for your Flash Briefing to watch video from CNBC, CNN, Reuters, and more. You can even say, “Alexa, show me my front door” to see video from your Ring doorbell, and control your lights or lock the doors right from the screen with Alexa’s smart home automation skills.

Last but not least, we’re bringing the Amazon Prime Video app to Portal later this year, so you can stream your favorite content when you’re not on a video call or using another Portal feature.

We can’t wait to hear how Portal has changed the way you connect with your friends and family. Visit portal.facebook.com to learn more.