Facebook is currently in the process of developing a voice recognition functionality that it plans to integrate in its main social media app, as well as Messenger. As first discovered by tech researcher Jane Manchun Wong, the latest build of the Facebook app for Android devices includes a somewhat functional version of a voice service called Aloha, with that particular moniker also being the rumored codename of one of Facebook's upcoming display-equipped smart speakers.
The video that can be seen below shows the solution in action, with the source also managing to dig up a logo of the app that resembles a golden outline of a volcano on a black circle. The tool is meant to be used as a voice-to-text service for Facebook and Messenger that's also capable of working in conjunction with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices, with the latter characteristic being indicative of smart speaker support. The test also confirms one of Facebook's upcoming AI speakers will be called the Portal, with the Aloha service already being capable of notifying users when their devices are connected to the unannounced gadget. A similar feature is currently also in the works for Instagram Direct messages, as per Wong's findings.
It's still unclear when exactly Facebook is planning to officially announce its speech recognition software, though the Portal speaker is still expected to debut by the end of the year, priced at around $499. The device is understood to have already been ready for an unveiling at the company's annual F8 developer conference in May but its announcement ended up being postponed due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with Facebook looking to avoid raising additional privacy concerns while the debacle was still making headlines. As a direct result of that ordeal, the Portal has been revamped to store all sensitive user data locally instead of sending it to the cloud, which should improve the overall level of digital security it offers, sources claimed earlier this year.