CAT’s FLIR-packing S61 Android smartphone is your tough new best friend

 Siri, sing me a song

For many people, earbud-type headphones are one of life little pleasures, and now Apple is set to upgrade their best selling AirPods with some new features. Bloomberg says Cupertino is getting ready to give the AirPods a makeover. They also say the signature white earbuds have accounted for an astounding 85 percent of the money spent in the US on wireless earbuds since they debuted in 2016.

That’s pretty nuts for a first-gen product, but the AirPods have been yet another breakout product for Apple, and it can still be tough to reel in a pair. Bloomberg says the AirPod update will include added water resistance – but not so much that you can swim with them – along with an upgrade to the “W-1” chip that powers them. The Series 3 Apple Watch uses a W-2 chip now, so we think the 2.0 AirPods may get a W-3 iteration.

Another expected improvement: “Hey Siri” command integration without having to touch the AirPods to activate the digital assistant. There’s also an update for the handy AirPod charging case in the works; it should get wireless recharging ability in the next go-round.

Pick your ISP carefully

Remember how the FCC repealed the Obama-era net neutrality laws, and as far as you could tell, nothing really happened, right? Well that’s because nothing has happened yet since the rule changes haven’t taken effect… yet. But that all changes soon: The FCC says April 23rd will be the day internet service providers, or ISPs, will be to do and charge what they wish as the old rules go away. So what kinds of changes might you see?

ISPs will be able to prioritize traffic to websites that pay them to prioritize their site: meaning, if you don’t pay the ISP, your site traffic could start to tick down. That’s bad news for a lot of sites. Also, consumers may have to pay your ISP – like Comcast, Charter and so on – a lot more just to get services like streaming video or other data-intensive services, such as Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu and so on.

So can anything be done to preserve net neutrality before the deadline? Some states and trade groups are going to court over the new rules – or lack of them – but court fights like that can take years. The best thing to do would be to contact your congressman and senators, and if you still don’t understand what net neutrality is or what the internet looks like without it, take a look at this video that will help explain it in a novel fashion.

Ready for life’s daily battles

Mobile World Congress is just around the corner, and we’re getting our first look at one of the first feature-packed thousand-dollar Android smartphones to hit market. Galaxy S9, right? Nope. It’s the S-61 from smartphone icon Caterpillar (or, CAT). And if you work with heavy equipment, or are in construction or just heavy industry in general, this is definitely the phone for you.

It ain’t thin since it’s packing a 4,500 milliamp battery, but it needs all that juice for its suite of special features, which includes a FLIR thermal camera system, an air quality and pollution sensor array, ambient temperature sensor, and even a digital tape measure and 2D volumetric system for measuring how much tile you’re gonna need for that bathroom floor.

That’s all in addition to some of the usual suspects: a full HD screen that works when wet or with gloves, 16-megapixel rear camera, 8 megapixel selfie cam, 4 gigs of RAM, Android 8 Oreo OS, a Snapdragon processor, 64 gigs of storage and so on. Oh, and it’s built to 810G military toughness standards, so you don’t even need a case.

Sure, its a bit chunky, but Cat says the S-series phones have been hugely popular, and we can understand why. Check out our hands-on look at this truly tough phone.

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.