Facebook is trying to meld TV streaming and video calls in one home gadget

(Image credit: Facebook Portal)

Facebook really, really wants you to make video calls, it seems. 

A new report by The Information has claimed the social media giant has approached the likes of Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon to get support for their streaming services on a potential TV streaming box - which could launch before the year is out.

If that wasn't noteworthy enough, it looks like the streaming box in question would come with a camera peripheral to help you make video calls through the television itself.

Facebook has already attempted to enter the smart home market with its range of Portal and Portal Plus smart displays, though the camera-focused gadgets have made many consumers uneasy about giving even more data to a company mired in privacy scandals - and recently a $5 billion fine for its improper handling of user data.

Facebook may hope its fortunes lie elsewhere: with a TV streaming box in the vein of Amazon Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast, or even Apple TV 4K. Whether Facebook is planning a smaller streaming stick or larger set-top box is yet to be clarified, though keeping a lower profile may be smarter for getting into people's homes.

Don't look at me

So, would you put a Facebook-made camera on your television? There have been built-in webcams in TVs before, but there was never really much of an appetite for it. 

People don't currently look to their TVs for that kind of connectivity, though there are currently ways to cast video calls from your smartphone onto a compatible television, using Google Cast (for Android phones) or Airplay (for iPhones).

Recent smart displays like the Echo Show 5 have made much of privacy features that allow you to physically shutter the camera and disconnect the microphone, to stop either potential hackers (unlikely) or smart assistants listening in when you don't want them to (likely).

If Facebook can make a convincing case for a privacy-first device, some may well buy into it; otherwise, with so many other TV streaming gadgets on the market, and straightforward ways to use your smart TV for calls already, Facebook may have a hard time finding its place in the home.

Via The Information

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.