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What is Facebook Aloha? All you need to know about Facebook’s video chat device

Rumours are fast flying about Facebook’s home video chat gadget, code-named Aloha, which is expected to see a UK release in 2018. Here’s what we know so far.

Video chat is absolutely huge now, to the point that pretty much every messaging service and some social media apps offer the feature to consumers.

Skype is of course one of the biggest and best-known video messaging services around. You can get Skype on your mobile phone, tablet, laptop and even your TV, to call friends and family with full real-time video. All you need is a device with a camera, mic and screen and you’re good to go.

Social media giant Facebook is currently taking on Skype with its own Messenger app, which offers full video call functionality. You can video chat with any of your contacts on Facebook, as well as send pics and video clips that you’ve shot on your smartphone. You can even play games with them online.

Recent mumblings on the web suggest that Facebook takes the realm of video calls very seriously indeed, going so far as to develop its own branded device dedicated purely to this feature. The device in question is code-named Aloha and so far the rumours seem legit.

What is Facebook Aloha?

Facebook Aloha seems to be a very similar device to Amazon’s Echo Show, at least in terms of general hardware. You get a well-sized screen as well as a built-in camera and mic, and the idea is that the Aloha sits in your home and offer full video chat functionality.

So far details are quite thin on the ground, but we expect that display to support full touchscreen controls. As the Aloha is focused on a single task, the interface will hopefully be quite simple. We’re expecting fast access to your Facebook contacts, with the option of messaging or calling them at just a touch. The Aloha may also act as a gateway to the full social media service, so you can check out your friends’ timelines and perhaps post to your own.

Like the Echo Show, we’re hoping for voice controls to be implemented too. So you can hopefully activate the device and say a contact’s name and the Aloha will call them immediately.

We’re expecting at least a 10-inch HD or Full HD display to be built into the Aloha, so you can clearly see whoever you’re calling. Likewise, you can expect at least an HD resolution camera housed over the display, to capture your own face during calls.

What’s the point of Facebook Aloha?

Video calling is of course a great way to keep in touch with relatives and loved ones who are far away. It’s the next best thing to a face-to-face meeting, allowing you to chat in real time as if you were in the same room together.

However, to take advantage of this service, you both need to have a compatible device that supports your chosen video chat app. As we mentioned before, this could be a smartphone, computer or even a smart television with a built-in camera and mic. Most younger people these days have an iPhone or Android handset, which will do the job nicely. However, older people may not possess such tech, which means they can’t jump online and speak with their relatives or friends with full visual feedback.

That’s where Facebook’s new Aloha device could come in useful. This stand-alone gadget should be easy to use, as it’s dedicated to performing a single task: video chat. You can expect one-touch controls for connecting with loved ones, with a simple interface that can be fully customised to suit the user.

Are there any problems with Facebook Aloha?

Of course, for Facebook Aloha to work, granny or granddad will still need to have a reliable WiFi connection – otherwise all they’re going to be staring at is a blank screen.

Then there’s the issue of privacy. Facebook has been called out a fair few times in the past when it comes to confidentiality, rightly or wrongly, which means many people may be hesitant to trust the Aloha enough to place it in their homes. After all, it’s a Facebook-branded device with a built-in microphone and camera.

Finally, we come to the problem of cost. And if rumours are on the money, Facebook might want to rethink its whole strategy surrounding the Aloha.

How much will Facebook Aloha cost?

At the moment nothing is confirmed of course, as the device hasn’t officially been launched. But if rumours are to be believed, the Facebook Aloha will cost an eye-watering $499.

Personally we can’t see that ever happening. A device that performs one task is unlikely to cost the same as a fully-fledged TV or laptop, no matter how big and beautiful the screen. So we’ll just have to wait and see what the true UK asking price is.

When is the Facebook Aloha’s UK release date?

Apparently the Alpha is already in testing phases, with Facebook employees reportedly taking the device home to test.

If that’s the case, then you can expect to see the Aloha launched in early 2018. It should be released to global markets including the UK and US soon afterwards.

Is Facebook planning on releasing lots of hardware now?

Facebook does indeed seem dedicated to launching its own devices, now that it’s pretty much conquered to realm of social networks. In fact, the company has a large team focused on research and design of consumer hardware (including Oculus VR after Facebook bought it out), led by executive Andrew Bosworth.

Bosworth will be heading up the ‘Building 8’ division, with the Aloha expected to be its first consumer release. Apparently lots of other projects are currently also in development in Building 8, with the aim of brainstorming and crafting devices within a two year period, before a global launch.

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