Zoom'-ing Out Of 2020: A Marvelous Year For Tech

by GoNews Desk 2 years ago Views 18399

Zoom'-ing Out Of 2020: A Marvelous Year For Tech
The year 2020 is unforgettable in many ways. From changing how we work, live, or eat, the year has taught many how to survive the toughest days of their life. Tech has been a crucial aid to humans in the pandemic year, from Zoom calls to OTT platforms to COVID-19 tracking app, without tech, 2020 would have been far more troublesome than it actually was. 

Here is what transpired in 2020 in the tech sector across the globe — 

After the COVID-19 spread across China and started to cross its borders, the Communist nation became the first country to launch a coronavirus tracking app called “close contact detector” that helped to track COVID-19 carriers.

As the pandemic’s intensity grew, Google, Facebook, and others cancelled their annual events like Google I/O and F8 developer conference. TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook pulled out of the SXSW conference, also known as South by Southwest. World’s biggest mobile trade show, Mobile World Congress (MWC), in Barcelona, was ditched by major tech and mobile companies just two weeks before the schedule. Barring a few, most of these conferences and events took place online.

In India, educational institutions including private, government, and semi-government schools and colleges, which had the digital infrastructure took their classes online during the lockdown. Ed-tech companies like Unacademy and Byju’s gained immense popularity during the period. Bangalore-based learning app, Byju’s, saw a 60% increase in the form of new users within a week after making the app free for all.

By the time coronavirus claimed 16,565 lives, almost 8 months ago, several countries (especially China) around the world resorted to mass surveillance to make sure quarantined people stay at home. India launched its own coronavirus tracker, Aarogya Setu, on April 2 which was said to be optional but was made mandatory by several private and govt institutions.

Though, the biggest tech story of 2020 is the rise of the videoconferencing app, Zoom, which shot to unparalleled fame during the pandemic. From business meetings to online classes to chatting with your whole squad, Zoom provided it all and emerged as the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store. Zoom CEO Eric Yuan was recently declared “Businessperson Of The Year” by TIME magazine. 

In India, users’ privacy went for a toss when several states openly put out personal information on their website for tracking purposes. For example, private details of 1094 COVID-19 patients in Punjab, such as their name, address, and quarantine period details were on public display by the Mohali (SAS Nagar) district administration on their website. Also, it has been 500 days since the government imposed a ban on high-speed internet in Jammu and Kashmir except in two districts. The Freedom House report dubbed India as the “world leader in internet shutdowns” as global internet freedom declined for the 10th consecutive year.

Big Tech had a tumultuous year as it faced unprecedented heat from US lawmakers and around the world. As the Black Lives Matter protests gripped the US’ conscience, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian quit the board and asked for a Black replacement. Amazon stopped lending its controversial facial recognition software, Rekognition, to the police. Facebook bore the brunt of advertisers for allowing hate speech on its platform which wiped out billions of dollars from its market value. 

While all this was happening, Jeff Bezos’ Amazon got the US Federal Communications Commission’s approval to launch a constellation of 3,236 Kuiper internet-beaming satellites into space, that aims to provide affordable satellite-based broadband services. The world’s leading software development platform, GitHub, buried a huge chunk of data (approx 21 terabytes) in long-term storage at the remotest part of the earth, the North Pole, for future humans. 

Google this year announced that its Flood Forecasting Initiative — to keep users updated with real-time flood forecasting information in the affected region - now covers all of India, a feat it achieved in June. After tensions flared along the border, the Indian govt banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok in June. The Indian govt picked Samsung, three manufacturing partners of Apple namely Foxconn, Wistron, and Pegatron, among 16 companies under the Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) to boost mobile phone manufacturing in India over the next five years. 

India’s highest-valued unicorn Paytm launched the Android ‘Mini App Store’ for Indian developers within its own app, after being booted out of Play Store for violating Google’s gambling policies. The Indian tech companies’ openly criticised Google’s monopoly due to the Android Play Store and its high rate commission on in-app purchases. 

At the Indian Mobile Congress 2020, Facebook India Director Manish Chopra said that people all over the world are following the social distancing which has led to a rapid increase in digital engagement. According to data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), as of March 2020, there were a total of 117.79 crore subscribers in the country, which has come down to 116.78 crore subscribers in August 2020 i.e, lockdown shrank the telecom sector, recording a huge decline in urban teledensity. 

OTT (Over-the-Top) platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc now come under the ambit of the Information & Broadcasting ministry which has triggered fears of censorship in India. The top OTT platform in 2020, Netflix added a whopping 10 million subscribers during the lockdown phase. Netflix had over 183 million paid users worldwide in April 2020.

At the end of the year, Facebook and Apple’s vicious fighting over the new iOS 14 software update went public after Facebook filled top US newspapers with Anti-Apple ads. In India, parents expressed anger against WhiteHatJr and others who are making children learn to code at an age ‘when they should play’. Ed-tech companies saw a tremendous spike in India but a recent Oxfam report says as many as 80% of Indian students couldn’t access online schooling during the lockdown, and many might not return when they reopen.

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