Last week in tech: Hey look, some new smartphones!
Mobile World Congress is here with some gadgets to cure your Olympics withdrawal.
While you were busy forgetting that curling exists until the next Winter Olympics, the Mobile World Congress kicked off in Barcelona, Spain. As a result, this week’s tech wrap-up is dominated by a whole pile of new devices from many of the big manufacturers not named “Apple.”
Samsung unleashed the Galaxy S9
The latest additions to the Samsung smartphone line up are the Galaxy S9 and S9+. Both phones got significant camera upgrades—especially when it comes to shooting in low-light—and slow-motion video capture. The Galaxy S9 phones also have augmented reality emojis you can plaster on your face as well. You probably shouldn’t use them as your LinkedIn picture.
Sony launched its XZ2 smartphone
Sony Xperia XZ2
The new phones we’ve seen from MWC this year haven’t exactly blown the doors off the market. Sony’s top-of-the-line models are now the Xperia XZ2 and its companion, the XZ2 Compact. The pair of phones does everything you’d expect out of a flagship phone at this point, powered by a Snapdragon 845 chipset and 4 GB RAM. The standout specs here include the high-performance audio, as well as a bigger haptic feedback mechanism inside, which adds rumble functionality during games and other media.
Kodak is back in black-and-white film
Kodak’s black-and-white film
Last week the once-mighty film company brought back its T-Max P3200 black-and-white photographic film, which had been discontinued since 2014. It’s not a particularly easy film to use, but this is a great time to get into analog photography, so check out our guide for buying a film camera.
Special effects are still magic
We don’t do much pop culture here on PopSci.com, but watching special effects turn into movie magic will never get old. Industrial Light and Magic shared a behind-the-scenes look at a scene from The Last Jedi from green screen to big screen.
Google Lens visual search and ARCore are finally coming to your phone
It’s hard to keep track of just which phones can handle specific augmented reality tasks, but now Google is rolling out its AR tech to a lot more handsets outside of its own camp. Google Lens is a visual search tool that lets you point your camera into the real world and get info about the objects it sees. Until now, it was exclusive to Pixel phones, but now it will roll out to both Android and iOS devices are part of Google Photos. ARCore is Google’s full-fledged augmented reality platform and helps phones accomplish things like games that place digital objects into the real world. ARCore isn’t getting as wide a release, limiting itself to Samsung flagship phones (like the Galaxy S), the LG V30, and of course the Pixel phones.
That Boston Dynamics robot tried to escape
Remember that adorable robot we showed you here last week? Well, it wants out of its laboratory prison and the only thing that can stop it is a scientist trying to mash it in the door. The video is called “testing robustness,” which seems wildly appropriate for a Monday like this.
UPS is working on electric delivery trucks
The big, brown delivery company is working on a fleet of 100 fully-electric trucks to arrive some time in 2018 from a manufacturer called Workhorse. They will join 35,000 gas and diesel trucks already in service for the company. Now the drivers can arrive in silence, slap the “sorry we missed you tag” on the door, then slink away.
Kylie Jenner ruined Snapchat’s week
sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) February 21, 2018
Snapchat recently redesigned its service in an effort to make it easier to navigate without having to ask an 11-year-old which way you swipe to find anything. Many people dislike the redesign, including Kylie Jenner. Her tweet crashed Snap’s stock in a demonstration of just how rational and reasonable the tech and financial worlds really are.
Moog reissued its famous synthesizer for $35,000
Moog IIIp synth
Limited-edition electronics are hot at the moment, and the latest “for rich people only” entry into the segment is Moog’s IIIp synth. For $35,000, you get all the wonderful knobs and switches from the 1969 design. The high price comes from the fact that it takes hundreds of hours to create a single one of these. Also, the high-end audio market tends to have a high tolerance for really expensive gear.