It’s that time of year when we make predictions about what to see from technology in 2021.
We already know we’re good for new iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones, new smart speakers from Amazon and beautiful new smart TV sets that will have higher resolution than ever before – at a lower cost.
So let’s offer up some tech predictions about what else we’ll see, or just might.
Let’s start with a given:
You’ll be paying for email in 2021
The world’s most popular email program Gmail, is owned by Google, which has decided to follow in Apple’s footsteps by getting more people hooked on monthly subscriptions. (Apple’s Services – which includes Apple Music, News and iCloud – is now its second-highest revenue generator, above Macs, iPads and Apple Watches.)
As of June 1, Google will no longer allow users to upload their photos and videos to Google Photos for free. Google offers 15 GBs of free storage for photos, but that also includes Gmail and Google Drive backup. The ask is that you pay for storage, which starts at $1.99 a month – but for just 100 GB of storage.
I don’t know about you, but my Gmail is 41 GBs worth now, I have 15 GBs worth of photos in Google Photos and 1.7 TBs on Google Drive.
Sure, I can clear out Google Drive, but the thing is, my email is a living, growing thing that is just not going to get smaller, no matter how hard I try to clean it up. It grows every day. So if you like your Gmail, get used to it – you might be paying.
Microsoft and Yahoo still offer free email, but they’re littered with ads, and you’re encouraged to step up to the “premium” versions, which starts at $5 and $3.49 a month, respectively, to go ad-free. Yahoo is eliminating the ability to automatically forward emails from Yahoo Mail beginning next week, unless you spend $34.99 a year for the service.
Big tech won’t find the new administration any friendlier
Facebook and Google’s woes in Washington, D.C., won’t change with a new Biden administration, we believe. The companies will continue to be hauled into Washington to defend against being broken up. President-elect Joe Biden has complained to the social network many times about all the disinformation coming out about him on Facebook, and the company declined to act. That certainly isn’t likely to play well in the Biden years.
The streaming wars will lose a big player
Many new streaming networks launched in 2020, most notably HBO Max and Peacock, and many more are on the horizon for 2021, including Paramount Plus and Discovery +, but at least one of the new networks will go down. Or so says my USA TODAY colleague Brett Molina, who puts Paramount Plus as the most likely victim.
Paramount Plus is the soon-to-be new name for what was CBS All-Access, with the addition of movies from the Paramount Pictures library and TV shows from the Viacom (MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon) vault. “There’s just too many of them,” Molina says. “I can’t see it lasting.” (You will see many more first-run films on streaming channels in 2021, as Warner Media has announced its entire slate for HBO Max and Disney + has first-run fare scheduled as well.)
5G won’t get any better until late 2021
The launch of new phones with access to the supposedly faster wireless speed of 5G, and the wireless carriers’ breathless hype about speed left many consumers scratching their heads. The promised speeds were no faster than 4G. One day 5G will live up to the hype, but not until late 2021, believes Gene Munster, an analyst and investor with Loup Ventures. For real progress, we’ll have to wait for 2022.
Local retailers will find a way to compete with Amazon
It’s an aspirational wish, but “someone will solve the need and find a way to fill it,” says Kieran Hannon, the chief marketing officer for OpenPath, a company that offers next generation office entry technology. He believes a service will be developed to help local retailers compete with the Amazons of the world by letting customers order from a direct website serving locals and have products delivered to them at home, thus keeping sales in the neighborhood.
Zoom and video meetings will only get bigger
Business travel may start to come back from the dead in the second half of 2021, but all the companies that saved money from the trips won’t likely be as eager to send staffers traipsing around the country when meetings can be done cheaper and more efficiently via video.
Students will one day return to the classrooms, but company meetings, seminars, webinars and the like will likely continue. No need to return those ring lights to improve your appearance yet.
Speaking of Zoom, a possible acquisition?
The video networks is one hot property that saw its usage numbers climb from 10 million to 300 million amid the pandemic, making it one prime acquisition target. Who better to buy Zoom than Amazon?
The companies already work together, with Amazon Web Services providing the server backbone for all those Zoom meetings. Unlike Google, Apple and Facebook, which have their own well-established video networks (Google Meet, FaceTime and Messenger), Amazon doesn’t have one.
So with Zoom in the company, and all those meeting minutes (about 2 trillion in April alone,) what an attractive target that would make for Amazon to remind us to use Alexa and buy more stuff, right?
Pay for podcasts?
Finally, Munster from Loup Ventures believes Apple will follow its smash success with the Services division by introducing a new way for podcasters to make money on their shows by charging admission. He sees a “Podcast +” that sees everyone’s favorite audio shows (like Talking Tech) added to the Apple One bundle with Apple Music. “Good news for podcasters, who may see Apple as another avenue to monetize their listener base.”
We love it.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Twitter users are exposing pro-Russian sentiment in China, and Beijing is not happy
Anonymous Twitter users are exposing the extreme nationalism and pro-Russian sentiment circulating online in China — and Beijing is not happy about it.
In bad faith?
Suppressed voices, echo chambers
BLACKBERRY PHONES TO STOP WORKING AS COMPANY FINALLY PULLS PLUG
independent– BlackBerry phones, once the height of mobile devices, are finally being shut off.
The company announced that services for the older devices will be brought to an end on 4 January. At that point, they will “no longer reliably function”, BlackBerry said, and will be unable to get data, texts or make phone calls, including to emergency numbers.
It is just the latest in a series of endings for the once equally beloved and hated name, which helped drive the mobile revolution and was at the forefront of business and technology. While the BlackBerry has been declared dead a number of times before, the latest move means that the phones themselves will actually stop working.
In 2016, after its phones had been replaced largely by smartphones from Apple and others, BlackBerry announced that it had transitioned away from phones and into making software and that it would focus on providing security tools to companies and governments. It has sold the BlackBerry brand to other companies, who have created devices bearing the name.
In 2020, BlackBerry said that with that move complete, it would start taking offline the legacy services that allowed those old devices to keep working. Phones that run any of BlackBerry’s own operating systems – BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software – were given an “end of life or termination date” at the start of 2022.
Next week, that date will finally arrive and support will end. While the phones will still be able to perform some of their functions without BlackBerry’s services, many of their central features will be removed, and the phones will not work reliably.
BlackBerry said the support was being removed in recognition of the fact that it now works in security software and that the old products did not reflect its business. It had prolonged support in the years since that transition “as an expression of thanks to our loyal partners and customers”, it said.
70 Jupiter-sized ‘rogue planets’ discovered in our galaxy
independent– A team of astronomers discovered at least 70 ‘rogue’ planets in our galaxy, the largest collection ever found to date.
While conventional planets (like those in our Solar System) orbit a star, rogue planets roam freely without travelling around a nearby star.
“We did not know how many to expect and are excited to have found so many,” said Núria Miret-Roig, an astronomer at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux.
It would usually be impossible to detect rogue planets because they are hard to spot far from a star’s light. One key fact of their existence made them visible: these planets still give off enough heat to glow millions of years after their creation, making them visible to powerful telescopes.
This heat allowed the 70 planets – each with masses close to that of Jupiter – to be discovered in the Scorpius and Ophiuchus constellations.
“We measured the tiny motions, the colours and luminosities of tens of millions of sources in a large area of the sky,” explained Ms Miret-Roig. “These measurements allowed us to securely identify the faintest objects in this region, the rogue planets.”
The astronomers’ study suggests there could be many more elusive, starless planets yet to be discovered, numbering in the billions in the Milky Way alone.
By studying these planets, astronomers believe they could unlock clues as to how the mysterious objects come to be. It is hypothesised they are generated from the collapse of gas clouds too small to create stars, but they could also have been ejected from a parent system.
“These objects are extremely faint and little can be done to study them with current facilities,” says Hervé Bouy, another astronomer at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique. “The ELT [Extremely Large Telescope, currently being built in Chile] will be absolutely crucial to gathering more information about most of the rogue planets we have found.”
The exact number of rogue planets discovered is vague, because the observations made by the researchers do not allow them to measure the mass of the objects. Bodies with a mass 13 times greater than that of Jupiter are unlikely to be planets, but relying on brightness makes this figure unclear.
The brightness of these objects is also related to age, as the older the planet is the dimmer it will be. The brightest objects in the sample could have a mass greater than the upper limit but be older and therefore dimmer. Researchers estimate there could be as many as 100 more planets yet to be discovered because of this uncertainty.
Australia3 years ago
Button and Diane Powellpark the school bus after three decades
Australia3 years ago
Button and Diane Powellpark the school bus after three decades
Tech2 years ago
Search engine startup asks users to be the customer, not the product
Europe1 year ago
Covid: Flights shut down as EU discusses UK virus threat
Europe1 year ago
Post-Brexit trade: Is red tape chaos just ‘teething trouble’ as the UK government argues?
Health1 year ago
Spain ‘to register’ those who refuse to have Covid-19 vaccine
Arts4 years ago
How a chain-link mosque at the Vancouver Biennale became a community hub
Tech5 months ago
Sign up to The Independent’s free cryptocurrency expert panel event