Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

The Wrap – Tech Trends of 2021

This week on The Wrap, we’re joined by Adam Turner and Chris Duckett to check out what’s going to happen in tech this year. From smart speakers to 5G, AI, and working from home, we’ll explore tech in 2021. All in five.

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It’s the beginning of January 2021, and you’re turned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and while we’re probably not the first to say this to you, let us say it all the same: Happy New Year.

And welcome to a new year, because 2020 was definitely different, with the world changed severely. We’re not sure how many could say they saw coronavirus coming, and it was something that shaped the world, stopping everything else in its tracks.

Work saw many of us turn our homes into a new workplace, and were encouraged to go outside less, turning to online shopping instead of the real thing.

New technology still came out, but because we were inside more often, we were more interested in working gear like monitors and keyboards and such. Phones were still popular, but we needed an office at home.

That was last year, and so 2021 might feel like a bit of a reset. We know what we’re coming back from, and that means this year has the potential for trends that might actually eventuate, so what do we think will happen?

Ahead of the year of tech beginning, we’re checking with some of Australia’s best journalists to get a gauge on what they think will happen this year in tech.

Adam Turner, Freelance Technology Journalist

After the dumpster fire which was 2020, I think 2021 might be more of a year of consolidation rather than one of major tech upheavals, with much of the world still battling COVID.

That’s Adam Turner, a Freelance Technology Journalist and host of the podcast Vertical Hold, who told us that one of the trends he’s expecting will be based around people spending time at home, which will lead to spending more money at home, too.

Adam Turner, Freelance Technology Journalist

I expect a big year for home entertainment and home automation with smart speakers at the center of it all. They’ll continue to improve as they integrate with more services and devices. People will also develop a better idea of what smart speakers are really good at and where they actually fit into our lives.

Spending time at home will likely be a big part of our 2021 lives, at least until the world has managed to get over the coronavirus. That might happen this year, but it’s more likely to be in the year or years that follow, and so working from home play a big part still.

Sadly, you’ll still need to call your home office your workplace for a while, at least for now, though not everyone may play by those rules.

Chris Duckett, Editor of ZDNet Australia

While 2020 was the year everyone was forced into working from home, 2021 is the year where we find out who the true believers are. With vaccines rolling out, some businesses will be sorely tempted to draw employees back into the office and revert to old forms of work.

That’s Chris Duckett, Editor of ZDNet in Australia, who told us that while some companies would continue to let us work from home, others would be less inclined to do so, and bring people back.

Chris Duckett, Editor of ZDNet Australia

After a year that could be set aside as a one off, the big question will be whether bosses decide to impose measurements on remote employees. You probably know this as surveillance software that monitors what apps are open and where and what you are typing. And if you think this is far-fetched, you haven’t received an automated Office 365 email that attempts to quote unquote, helpfully inform you of how productive you were compared to last week.

While the idea of that might feel a touch concerning, it’s just one of the things to look forward to this year, alongside maybe the return of the QR code.

Chris Duckett, Editor of ZDNet Australia

After years of laughing at them and wondering why they didn’t go away for good, 2020 showed QR codes are back and expect to see more of them this year.

Fortunately, 2021 isn’t just going to be about trends that make us grimace, even a little. With more 5G mobiles out in the world, and more chance of you going outside, 5G will start to do a little more, too.

Adam Turner, Freelance Technology Journalist

5G will start to find its feet in 2021, but it’s still a solution looking for a problem. Most people don’t really need those faster speeds or the lower latency. 5G is more for machines talking to each other. It will also be interesting to see where wireless broadband tries to cut the NBN’s lunch in 2021

And then there’s that whole AI thing, which won’t let up this year. It’s an area that is growing in leaps and bounds, and can now be helped by dedicated hardware in your phones, your computers, and in a bunch more, too. It’s the reason why you hear about self-driving cars, and it could just help make the hard jobs easier and faster in your life.

Adam Turner, Freelance Technology Journalist

I think artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a greater role in our lives in 2021, but they’ll be incorporated into more of the services we already use. For example, your banking app might get a smart chat bot to help you make basic financial and budgeting decisions, assisted by the new consumer data write rules, which make it easier to share data between services.

It’s all an example of what’s coming, with more to be expected. We think 2021 will see better portable audio, wearables to help you filter the air, and maybe even foldables finally making an impact.

For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round-up. Thanks to both Adam Turner and Chris Duckett for appearing on this special edition of The Wrap, and you can find out about this and more at An episode of The Wrap goes online every week at PodcastOne, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.

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