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Facebook wants to build a video chat tablet for your grandparents, report claims

Published Aug 1st, 2017 6:56PM EDT
facebook speaker

Amazon’s Echo lineup got a huge new addition in June with the launch of the Echo Show, a smart speaker married to a touchscreen and camera for video calling. Now, Facebook is reportedly working on a hardware product of its own, and it sounds strikingly similar to what Amazon cooked up, along with at least one other device that sounds a lot like the standard Echo.

According to the report, Facebook’s video chat gadget is being designed in its hardware-focused Building 8 division. The device features a large screen somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 inches and looks something like a laptop, minus the keyboard, with a stand that holds the display, and built-in microphones, speakers, and a camera that can track individuals.

Along with its Show clone, Facebook is also allegedly planning on rolling out its own smart speaker. The unannounced device will come complete with the company’s very own voice assistant which would compete with Alexa and Siri, which will be featured in the video chat device as well.

It’s unclear at this point whether the devices will run on some version of a Facebook operating system, but the insiders quoted in the report noted that Android was a candidate as well, at least at one point in the devices’ development.

If you’re thinking that this sounds an awful lot like Facebook attempting to copy the entire Echo lineup in one fell swoop, that’s because, well, it really really does. Facebook has never been shy about copying the ideas of its competitors, and if the company’s constant cloning of new Snapchat features is any indication, Facebook won’t lose any sleep over accusations that it’s also being “inspired” by Amazon.