Do you see what AI sees? Google unleashes ARCore and Lens features

Xperiance Pink?

Mobile World Congress 2018 officially off kicks next Monday but you’d think it was in full swing already judging by the number of new phone leaks spilling out of Barcelona. The latest revelation from the big mobile tech show that hasn’t actually started includes two new Android phones from Sony, who is looking to get back in the mobile game. BGR says serial leaker Evan Blass posted up details about the new Sony Xperia XZ2 phones.

Both phones – there’s 5-inch “Compact” model and a 5.7-inch “regular” or “big” version – will be powered by the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip and run Android 8. Both will shoot 4K HDR video, super-slo-mo full HD video, and 19-megapixel stills. The larger of the two will also have wireless charging. Sony is embracing the latest “minimal bezels” trend by using… minimal bezels, and the phones use something called “3D glass” over an aluminum frame. Looks good to us

Blass says the phones will come in four colors: basic black, of course, but also silver, green and pink.

Firing up future space exploration

Elon Musks’ SpaceX recent launch of the Falcon Heavy – and the successful deployment of his red Roadster – still have spaceflight fans buzzing, and now NASA is taking their turn in the spotlight with the test firing of an engine for their big Space Launch System rocket.

Better known as the SLS, the Space Launch System is set to be NASA’s big bird for moving heavy cargo beyond earth orbit – as in the Moon and Mars – but it’s been a bit overshadowed by Musk’s big Falcon Heavy. Nonetheless, NASA recently lit the fuse on the big RS-25 booster, and powered it up to 113 percent of maximum thrust for just short of one minute.

When an actual SLS rocket system will actually launch into space is still unknown – NASA says maybe in 2019 – but when it does, it should be quite a show as it will be even more powerful than Musk’s Falcon Heavy – and even be able to lift more than the legendary Saturn V system that took astronauts to the moon 50 years ago. The RS-25 motors are a modified version of the motors on the old Space Shuttle fleet, so they’re considered highly reliable. Still, you gotta test ‘em.

NASA says the SLS will feature four of the RS-25 engines and will generate 2 million pounds of thrust at full power, with additional side-mounted boosters bumping that up to 8 million pounds. But one big difference from the SpaceX rockets: These big boys don’t fly back home to land, making launches much more expensive compared to SpaceX’s reflyable cores.

Through a Lens, Googly

Google is bringing AR to the masses with the public release of ARCore, it’s augmented reality code that’s been in beta for a while now. The search and tech giant is also making their “Lens” visual search tool part of the Google Photos app on smartphones as well. Both features should update and activate today without Android users having to do much of anything, but you’ll need to make sure Android Oreo is fully up to date, and it will only work on certain phones for now.

Those handsets include all Google Pixel phones, top-level Samsung phones, LG’s V30 models, the Asus Zenfone AR and the OnePlus 5. As you can imagine, the update will be rolling out to many more phones in the near future. AR Core is similar to Apple AR Kit, and with a public release, developers should start churning out fun VR apps and such shortly. Get ready to check out how that couch looks in your room, or take a spin in Porsche’s Mission E concept car.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.