1. Rethinking Our Idea of What’s “Locked”
There’s going to be a massive rethink about the methods used to unlock devices on iPhones and Android smartphones.
As masks become entrenched in our daily lives, the FaceID feature becomes near-useless. Gloves aren’t as much a concern now as they were in March, but basing security on Touch ID doesn’t seem like a permanent solution anyway. Protests have heightened our collective awareness (to say the least) of tracking and privacy issues that were already a problem coming into 2020.
In-app encryption will get beefed up in all kinds of apps, and we’ll see a bunch of Signal clones. While it’s way too early to get anything to market, companies will fast-track R&D for retina recognition (Minority Report strikes again!) and long-awaited voice recognition as unlocking mechanisms.
It’s possible we’ll see new layers of security once you get past the lock screen, like a one-touch “freeze” function that erases data or turns off all location tracking, Bluetooth, and wifi. Or some version of protected folders that contain apps with sensitive data. -Julien Morin, Senior Producer
2. A Strange New World for TV Shows
After 9/11, TV shows had to make a choice: lean in and weave it into the dialogue (Rescue Me, The Sopranos), create alternative scenarios that serve as proxy traumas (The West Wing, 24, Battlestar Galactica) or completely ignore the outside world (Friends and practically every other comedy).
Content creators face a similar situation now, in ways even harder to calibrate for. Every part of work and family life has been affected by the events of the last four months, so what will pass for “normal” onscreen? If you ignore social distancing, won’t scenes set in a concert crowd look ridiculous? Will cop and lawyer procedurals alter story arcs to incorporate police accountability and reform? Do office comedies ignore the rise of remote work and unemployment? Do you barely mention the outside world then hope for the best?
Streaming services will probably choose a safer, if more expensive, path. They’ll follow the current trends and double-down on more sci-fi and fantasy. And, more period pieces, more animation, more game shows, more high-concept series that are as divorced from current reality as possible.
The broadcast networks will take a chance going the other way, focusing their medical, cop, and sitcom fare on timely storylines. Showrunners will be tempted to resurrect the “Very Special Episode” trope, but should commit to more involved takes on what’s happening. A quick nod to current events, quickly followed by a return to business-as-usual, will come off as performative and hollow. -Matt Brown, Head of Content
3. Safe Travels
A lot has been written about Covid-19’s effect on the economics and experience of air travel and cruises. But, we’re only now grappling with the real domino effect on the tourism industry. Let’s say you brave the global transportation grid to get out and explore someplace new. What happens, exactly, when you get there?
Will you feel reasonably safe from infection? Will you be ok visiting destinations with very limited or no access to their Instagram-friendly main attractions (looking at you, St. Mark's Basilica in Venice). How about ticketed time entries to popular national parks and beaches?
If you’re a U.S. resident visiting countries that have diligently monitored and treated Covid-19, will you be ok with a heightened level of tracking or some form of quarantine? How motivated will you be to go to Coachella or Glastonbury if social distancing affects the social dynamics of the experience? Ditto for bar and nightlife culture … from Berlin to Provincetown to Bangkok … are you ready to navigate the ethical and physical boundaries of party towns?
I know, it sucks. And the answer to most of these questions is a completely justified “I have no idea.” What may happen in response to all this is travel that favors more remote, and possibly more meaningful, experiences. Tourism that expands beyond packaged photo ops into deeper, rawer, less-populated parts of the world. Fewer people, fewer gift shops, more nature, greater adventure.
This economic shift could get support from both sides: city residents be more vocal in advocating for a reduction in tourism now that they've seen how life can be without tourists, and economically-challenged areas would welcome an influx of cash and activity.
Travel decisions will also be affected (at least a little) by social and economic justice issues. Destinations have a very long history of spackling over inconvenient truths in order to create a more perfect poolside experience.
But, there will be a greater desire to spend time and money in a place that works for positive change. Hotels, resorts, and entertainment venues that show a commitment to community and workplace equality will get extra points. When choosing cities and states to visit, many travelers will factor in safety and respect for residents and visitors, an idea that used to be relatively invisible in vacation-planning. -Victoria Carter, Senior Producer
4. Phone Home
Get ready for a myriad of phone booth-style solutions for your home that offer sound dampening. Mic technology that promises to zero in on your voice, block out the background noise, and give you some modicum of kid-and-pet-proof privacy. The arms race has already kicked off with Google Meet’s Cloud De-Noiser feature, which is a quantum leap forward.
There’ll be all kinds of acoustic gadgets for the home too. Stuff that’s built for open offices but will definitely get retrofitted to a second bedroom (like the goofily-named yet intriguing BuzziPlanter). Foldable, portable, sound-dampening panels will make a brave effort to solve your problems, but will only provide goals for your 6-year-old cats and humans.
Internet and phone use in offices is going down, so we’re also going to see broadband providers roll out company-wide, at-home versions of Friends and Family-style plan, offering special broadband for remote workers.
New ideas will surface about desk design too, with fresh takes on apartment-friendly stand-up and folding desks, and perhaps co-opting the old murphy-bed solution for work stations. -Joana Kelly, COO