If we made a list of the worst years in history, 2020 would occupy a captive position. The year was marked by a virus that interrupted the lives of almost 2 million people, which made the whole world mobilize to solve the problems caused by the pandemic. And many of the solutions were in the technology.
The health crisis, the economic recession and political disasters will be in the books. But, while the first doses of vaccines are distributed after being developed in record time, we are preparing for a more connected, less bureaucratic and more agile world, which was also born in this complicated time. Here, we recall the five most remarkable technological events of 2020.
1. Everything was digitalized: documents, payments and even medicine
Social detachment was one of the main recommendations of health authorities to contain the spread of the coronavirus. But how to deal with the bureaucratic processes that required going to a specific place, waiting in line and returning home without solving the problem? Well, most of them have been digitized.
Everything that is a document has gained or improved its digital version, such as the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Certificate (CRLV), the Digital Traffic Card (CDT) and the voter’s title. The IRS even allowed you to obtain the CPF by email, one of the documents needed to receive emergency aid, distributed to 67 million people to mitigate the economic impacts caused by the pandemic.
And how was the emergency aid distributed? While countries like the United States had to send checks to millions of people, in Brazil everything was deposited in a digital savings account, accessed through the Caixa Tem application. Of course, he suffered several instabilities, but in the end it worked both for the aid of R $ 600 (later reduced to R $ 300) and for the emergency FGTS, also released in the middle of the pandemic.
The inclusion of millions of people in the banking system at a record pace came with the launch of Pix, the Central Bank’s instant payment system that works 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and is free for any individual with an account in the hundreds of banks and fintechs that have adopted the technology.
And, in a difficult year for health, telemedicine was authorized on an emergency basis, allowing medical consultations and guidance at a distance. Electronic prescriptions for medicines were also possible with the use of digital signatures. Telemedicine in Brazil still works on an “exceptional and temporary basis”, according to the ordinance of the Ministry of Health, but it is difficult to imagine a future without it.
2. Growth of streaming and IPTV put fixed internet to the test
All of the aforementioned advances were made possible largely due to the internet. But taking documents, making a payment, or getting a prescription are tasks that don’t require a lot of connections. The increase in consumption of content through streaming, that was the great challenge for the infrastructure of the operators’ networks.
New media services have landed in Brazil, especially Disney +, which already has more than 86 million subscribers worldwide and threatens Netflix’s dominance. Pay TV has also started to go online, with Claro Box TV, unveiled exclusively by Tecnoblog, was the first big name in the new model. DirecTV Go arrived soon after, with aggressive offers to launch the legitimate IPTV service.
But not all IPTV is legitimate; in fact, the technology became better known in Brazil for being a cheap alternative to legalized pay TV. The second phase of Operation 404, launched in November, brought down more than 300 pirated IPTV services, with one platform having annual revenues of R $ 94.5 million. The IRS seized more than 70 thousand irregular TV Boxes only in the Port of Santos (SP) between August and December 2020, according to an exclusive survey by Tecnoblog.
Legalized or not, all of these services consume a lot of traffic and have changed the profile of use of the residential fixed internet, which started to be demanded in greater intensity and at different times than before the pandemic. Claro saw customer complaints almost double at Anatel, but the growth in complaints of slowness and instability in connections was felt by the main operators.
3. Online retail logistics moves forward in Brazil
Commerce closed its doors to contain the spread of the virus, which made room for online retail: e-commerce revenue grew 47% in the first half. Amazon expanded its operations in Brazil and opened distribution centers in Minas Gerais, Distrito Federal and Rio Grande do Sul, which added to those already existing in São Paulo and Pernambuco to speed up shipments. O Tecnoblog it also revealed exclusively that the American giant plans its own delivery service.
But the most aggressive expansion was that of the Free Market. In November, the company announced its own fleet of airplanes, called Meli Air, to reduce the time to send packages. The aircraft add up to 600 trucks for road transport and 10,000 vans for last-mile deliveries of the company’s logistics operation, which already promises to deliver products in two days to 80% of the Brazilian population.
Throughout 2021, the Free Market will operate at least seven distribution centers in the fulfillment model, in which the platform sellers store their products in the company’s warehouses to streamline logistics. The company also plans to expand its fleet to expand next day delivery operations through Mercado Envios.
And the privatization of Correios, an important public company for delivering parcels throughout the national territory, already signals that it will have many interested parties: companies such as UPS, DHL and FedEx, which operate in the logistics sector, can make an offer for the state company, but the list of possible buyers also includes retailers Alibaba, Amazon, Magazine Luiza and Mercado Livre.
4. The beginning of a major change in PCs
It is not every year that such an important change is announced in electronics: after 15 years, Intel processors are saying goodbye to Macs to make room for chips developed by Apple itself. Although MacBooks are not sold in large volumes, they tend to influence the entire notebook market – and early testing of the Apple Silicon shows that this is probably the only product novelty capable of leaving a significant legacy for years to come.
The first computers with Apple Silicon impressed both by performance and energy consumption: the 16-inch MacBook Pro with Intel Core i9, launched in 2019 as Apple’s most powerful notebook, was beaten by the new MacBook Air with Apple M1, which did not even has a fan. In the 2020 MacBook Pro, which features the same chip based on ARM architecture, the battery estimate doubled just with the processor change, to 20 hours.
Problems that could arise with an architectural transition were mitigated by Rosetta 2, Apple’s technology that translates x86 code into ARM when installing applications. Even with the emulation technique, the Apple M1 chip in single-core tests was faster than any other Apple computer with an Intel processor. These tests raise expectations about the performance of the next chips, which may have 12, 16 or even 32 cores.
The Windows PC market, which has been dating ARM architecture since 2012, when Windows 8 was still being talked about, should accelerate so as not to be at a loss. It remains to be seen which manufacturer will be able to give a gas to the task, since Qualcomm’s latest smartphone processor, the Snapdragon 888, has not even managed to surpass the iPhone 11 chip, launched a year earlier.
5. General Data Protection Law goes into effect in Brazil
By leaps and bounds and competing with a pandemic in the middle, the General Data Protection Act (LGPD) finally came into force on September 18. It is not new today that data is said to be the new oil and, after initiatives in the European Union, Brazil also needed a regulation on the collection, treatment, storage and protection of users’ information.
Even though the application of sanctions has been postponed to August 2021, all companies that collect data in Brazil must follow the LGPD rules. The most visible rule is already noticed when browsing the web: the sites need to ask the consent of the holder to use the information, which made the banners for authorization of data collection common on every page. In addition, companies need to inform and respect the purpose of using the collected data, which affects pharmacies that ask for the CPF to offer discounts.
LGPD also holds companies responsible for protecting user data. Until then, leaks did not need to be reported in Brazil, which made many companies hide such occurrences. That is why Yahoo, Dropbox, LinkedIn and others were exposed on the security news, but Brazilian names rarely appeared. When the national delivery service or delivery application exposes your card, they will need to go public, under penalty of a fine of up to R $ 50 million.
What we expect from 2021
5G could have started to take off this year around the world, but its implementation has been delayed because governments, companies and the population have obviously taken on other priorities. Anatel’s frequency auction, which may be in the second half of 2021, is important for the expansion of technology, which promises not only to make the Internet faster on cell phones, but also to enable autonomous cars, smart cities and expansion to come. fixed internet.
The new generation of video games arrived in time for the holidays, but it is from 2021 that we should notice the great advances in games, which will start to harness the full power of the PlayStation 5 (review) and Xbox Series X (review ). And, of course, also the new GeForce RTX on computers. Perhaps the 365 days were also long enough to fix games that promised a lot and were broken at launch.
Among the tech giants, if 2020 has already been a year of a lot of pressure, 2021 will not give up. In Brazil, social networks are in the sights of the fake news PL, which is being analyzed by the Chamber of Deputies. In the United States, the siege of the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google made it clear that the authorities are eyeing anti-competitive practices. In the European Union, the digital tax on big techs should not be left out of discussions.
But what we most expect, of course, is that all of this will happen with a vaccine widely available to the population.