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Our top 5 tech predictions for 2021

Tech is a strange beast. In some instances, it can seem painfully static. In others, it forges ahead at lightspeed without skipping a beat.

Since we’ve just begun a new year, you’re probably looking for ways to become a better you. There are plenty of tech items out there that can help you keep your resolutions and kick those bad practices you’ve wanted to get rid of. Tap or click here for 15 things to help kick bad habits.

Peering into a technological crystal ball for 2021 can be a daunting task. But at least there are some indicators as to which direction the industry is moving towards. We’re all trying to put 2020 behind us, so here are our top five tech predictions for this year.

1. A streaming war is brewing

Netflix has been the top dog in the streaming race for many years. Several other streaming services have tried to compete, all with varying degrees of success. As more customers flock to online services during the pandemic, content providers have been forced to better their offerings.

RELATED: 9 ways to save money on streaming

This year will more than ever determine who remains in business and who will be relegated to the history books. Netflix has been the frontrunner, but other services like Disney+ and HBO Max have closed the gap.

HBO Max on Christmas Day premiered “Wonder Woman 1984” concurrently with traditional theatres. Disney+ has had tremendous success with “Star Wars” spin-off “The Mandalorian.” If the other streaming services band together, they could very well reduce Netflix’s influence.

On the other side of the coin, fledgling services like NBC’s Peacock could disappear altogether as bigger providers jostle for position. There is also a good chance that traditional theatres will further experience closures — leading to bankruptcy for the biggest chains.

2. Prices will be increased

Death and taxes are assured, and so are price increases when the clock struck midnight on the New Year. Several service providers have already announced price hikes, but you can almost definitely group Amazon Prime into that as well.

The yearly subscription to Prime is currently $119, and Amazon is well aware that loyal customers will gladly pay whatever it takes to continue receiving all the perks that come with it. Tap or click here for Amazon Prime perks you’ll wish you knew sooner.

In 2018, Amazon increased the annual price for Prime from $99 to $119, so customers can likely expect an increase of $10 or $20. Amazon will undoubtedly justify the price increase by highlighting all the benefits that come with having a Prime account, especially during a global pandemic.

RELATED: Cable TV and internet price hikes coming in 2021 – check the list

3. Office-based work will be so 2019 – even for non-tech businesses

Even though COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed worldwide, the pandemic has forced many companies to rethink their operations. This is not only with customers but also how employees interact and work.

Working from home gained popularity last year, and as a result, many companies saw the immense benefit thereof — even in non-COVID times.

Coupled with the development and rollout of 5G technology, the ability to work from anywhere is ever so attractive to business, as staff can rely on tech with superfast mobile connections.

As tech giants like Google lead the charge in WFH, smaller companies are likely to follow suit. Google initially had a WFH policy in place up until June 2021. Late last year, however, it extended that plan to September and will slowly phase in part-time office work.

RELATED: Working from home? Here’s what to expect in 2021

Apple has also earmarked June 2021 as the preliminary date for returning to offices, while the job-search website Indeed told employees to expect to come back in July.

Microsoft has taken a somewhat different approach. It plans to reopen offices this month but will continue allowing employees to work from home on a case-by-case basis. Without prior approval, all employees can work less than 50% of the time from home.

With a focus on social distancing and people generally being more aware of the health hazards around them, smaller businesses will undoubtedly factor that in for new hires.

4. Artificial Intelligence will influence everything

You might not be aware of it, but tech companies like Facebook, Google and Apple know way more about you than what you are probably comfortable with. Armed with heaps of personal information and advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), you will be influenced to buy products and services without even knowing it.

The traditional form of online advertising is dying. Companies have figured out intricate ways to influence your buying behaviors and it will all be driven by AI. Tailored to your searches, profiles, followings and posts, AI will target you with uncanny accuracy.

RELATED: Change this privacy setting in Google to share less of your data

5. Panic stations for the hotel industry as tech dominates

Hotels can’t work from home, but everyday citizens can turn their home into a hotel. As the business travel industry has been forced to a screeching halt, Airbnb will, for the first time, ever overtake traditional hotel bookings.

Essential travelers will be far more likely (and comfortable) to book a single room in a home or rent an entire apartment than stay in a crowded and potentially unsafe hotel. And what better way to book a room than through tech?

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