Gentleman’s Journal’s tech predictions for 2020

From a new age of console gaming to technological advancements on the roads, here’s how our world will change in the new decade

Every year, Gentleman’s Journal tries to predict where the tech world will be in 12 month’s time. So, before we dive into our predictions for 2020, let’s see how we did in 2019.

5G development? Check. Smart speakers becoming even more ubiquitous? Absolutely. eSports taking off like never before? We were bang on the money. Our predictions about a boom in 3D printing, business’ increasing reliance on AI and a new chapter in the modern, tourism-fuelled space race may have been a little wide of the mark, but we’ll take a solid 50% hit rate. Let’s see how well we’ll do this year…

We’ll start to see television paring back its programming

Don’t get us wrong; we love Netflix. And Amazon Prime. And Hulu. Even NowTV. Maybe BritBox. Or Disney+. HBO Max. CBS All Access. Sling TV. We could go on. Because, even at the beginning of 2020, there are so many subscription services that we can’t keep track. Did you know that, last year, there were over 530 original scripted television series streaming? That’s before we even get to documentaries, reality and chat shows. Isn’t it all just a bit much?

Television has got to the point where we get anxiety when another series drops. It shouldn’t be like that — we should enjoy slumping down on the sofa and watching a new ‘it’ series. Instead, we’re cramming in snippets of shows during our commutes and lunch breaks. It’s untenable — and we expect streaming services to wise up this year. Expect more cancellations, fewer new shows, and the joys of getting our lives back…

5G will revolutionise — and complicate — our relationship with data

Ah, 5G — the best of all the Gs. 2020 will see the fifth generation of wireless technology boot up across the globe, and we’ll all benefit no end from the improved performance. Every major telecommunications provider has already signed on and poured money into the technology — and we can expect greater speed, lower latency and quicker support when it is rolled out across the country.

But the new system won’t be without its problems. Just last month, there was a marked furore around Huawei’s role in Britain’s 5G networks. With concerns about privacy and security, eyebrows will be raised as this new technology is rolled out. Expect a period of scepticism — but benefits in the end.

Deepfakes will insidiously start causing trouble

Deepfakes! Such fun! Didn’t we all laugh when that video of Bill Hader doing deepfake impressions of Tom Cruise and Seth Rogen surfaced? Unfortunately, like any vaguely entertaining technology, deepfakes have now been co-opted for nefarious purposes and turned against us. The human race; we just can’t have anything nice.

Mark our words; deepfakes will insidiously become part of everyday life — without us even knowing it. It’ll start with incriminating videos of CEOs being engineered to cause stock prices to plummet, but likely culminate in this year’s US election. Deepfake videos will be created and circulated showing Trump (and his fellow candidates) doing things even more deplorable and damaging than he has actually done. It’s pinch of salt time, gents.

Voice assistants will be installed in our cars

This one’s a little less Black Mirror. We’ve had voice assistants — from Amazon Echoes to Google Home speakers — in our houses for years. But we’ve never thought to install them in our cars. It’s a natural leap when you think about it; hands-free, easy to navigate music, radio and news and even change the routes on our sat navs.

Amazon’s Alexa is already integrating into some General Motors cars, and the next Volkswagen Golf model and upcoming Volvo releases will feature a new Android voice assistant. And it’s not just existing platforms; car manufacturers are creating brand new voice assistants of their own — such as Ford’s SYNC.

The smartphone photography wars will continue

Every year, we predict that smartphone cameras will get better, and every year they do. But that doesn’t stop Apple, Google, Samsung and a whole host of other brands throwing us digital curveballs. Just look at the iPhone 11 Pro, with its unnerving tri-camera set-up. No-one was predicting that.

What we do know is that night photography will grow in popularity. After the Google Pixel rewrote the rule book on low light level photography, there’s been something of an arms race between the big manufacturers to see who can fully conquer the night first. The latest Pixel is still pulling ahead — having unveiled an ‘Astrophotography’ setting on the latest model — but we wouldn’t bet against Apple. What next? Five cameras? Eight? Ten?!

The electric car charging grid will start to grow

Earlier this year, we took Jaguar’s I-PACE on an eco-odyssey to the Lake District. The drive from London was ambitious, but we were confident that the UK’s infrastructure for electric cars would be good enough to carry us northward without any glitches or hitches. We were wrong. Despite government plans to ban petrol, diesel and even hybrid cars by 2035, there’s still a lot of work to be done on our roads.

But, with Auto Trader reporting a 162 per cent rise in searches for electric cars this year already, it looks like the powers that be will be forced into action. Expect other costly transport plans — such as HS2 or the Heathrow expansion — to take a back seat, as the country charges forward with plans to power up a more viable EV charging network.

Consoles will be cool again

That’s right; they’re back. There’s both a new Playstation and a new Xbox launching this year — two tech titans going head-to-head again for the first time since 2013. And it’s about time. In recent years, online gaming, phone-based games and virtual reality have all started to look shinier than our trusted old consoles, and people have started to fall out of love with conventional, traditional gaming.

But these launches look to reinvigorate the market. The Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 will be revealed towards the end of the year, and will boast such anticipated features as 3D audio, performance-intensive lighting techniques and controllers with both adaptive triggers and haptic feedback technology. Get ready to plug back in.

Our phones will convince us to put them down

It’s high-time tech giants gave us more screen-time control. At times during the last decade, it seemed as though they were being downright irresponsible — trying to claim as many hours of our days as they could. But there’s been a sea change in attitude of late; and everyone from Apple to Google has been funnelling money and effort into making us actually put our phones down.

Apps have got on board, too. From Forest to Hold, there are a multitude of apps that will not only encourage you to stay away from your screens — but actively reward you for it. 2020 will, of course, see tech even further integrate itself into our lives but, for the first time, it looks like brands may be doing it responsibly — and with moderation.

Want to upgrade your headphones? Here are the best true wireless earphones money can buy…

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