What Were the Hottest Technology Trends of 2020?

January 6, 2021 • Shannon Flynn


2020 was an unusual year, to say the least. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly every facet of life adapted, leading to a period of unprecedented innovation and change. The technology trends of 2020 are perhaps the best example of how our lives changed.

Without modern technology, the year would’ve looked a lot different and for the worse. Tech gave people the resources they needed to adapt to the new normal. Years of advancement and adoption occurred almost overnight, and it won’t likely slow down now.

As we head into 2021, here’s a look back at the hottest technology trends of 2020.

1. Videoconferencing 

When the world looks back on 2020, few technologies will come to mind faster than videoconferencing. Services like Zoom and Google Hangouts quickly replaced in-person meetings in the early days of the pandemic. From work meetings to school to chatting with friends, virtually every type of interaction went virtual in 2020.

Time named Zoom’s founder, Eric Yuan, their business person of the year, and the app became Apple’s most-downloaded free app. It’s hard to think of any technology that’s more synonymous with 2020. These services were far from new, but when people couldn’t meet in-person anymore, they suddenly became indispensable. 

2. Telehealth

In a year marked by a global health crisis, the healthcare sector became more crucial than ever. As hospitals grew overcrowded and people grew fearful about catching COVID in waiting rooms, telehealth provided a solution. Thanks to video services and other digital communication tools, people could see a doctor without having to visit a hospital.

Telehealth visits rose by 50% in the first quarter of 2020 and skyrocketed after. Patients used telemedicine services for checkups, COVID-19 screenings, follow-ups and even psychiatric care. As videoconferencing helped businesses go virtual, these apps did the same for medicine. Telehealth is likely here to stay, and it’s all thanks to its 2020 boom.

3. E-Commerce

You can’t talk about technology trends in 2020 without mentioning the e-commerce boom. When in-person shopping became a health risk, online stores became the ideal alternative. E-commerce sites generated almost 22 billion visits in June, compared to just over 16 billion in January. Online shopping had been popular for a while, but it exploded in 2020. 

The rate at which people shopped online isn’t the only thing that changed, either. The things people bought online also shifted. Online grocery shopping and food delivery skyrocketed as people used the internet to stay home as much as possible. It’s hard to think of an industry that didn’t transition into online sales in 2020.

4. Digital Payments

The way people pay also changed in 2020, and, as with everything else, tech was at the center of this shift. Digital payments effectively replaced cash, with PayPal alone adding 20.2 million new accounts in Q1 2020. As users flooded to these services, they added new features, further changing the digital finance landscape.

In October 2020, PayPal announced support for cryptocurrency trading, bringing Bitcoin and Ethereum to a new, expanded user base. Cryptocurrencies, in turn, had a remarkably successful year themselves, with prices rising and decentralized finance (DeFi) exploding. These assets, which one seemed obscure and foreign, are now accessible to everyone, thanks to digital payment platforms.

5. Streaming

Streaming isn’t anything new, but it was certainly one of the hottest technology trends of 2020. If streaming sites hadn’t already buried cable, they certainly have after 2020, with lockdown restrictions leading to unprecedented binging. Average daily screen time skyrocketed to 19 hours a day, with some viewers even watching on multiple devices at once.

Streaming grew to include a wider range of content in 2020, too. While theaters were closed, movies premiered on streaming platforms, and people live-streamed concerts and conferences when they couldn’t go in person. Even exercise programs moved onto streaming platforms, guiding people’s home workouts through Instagram Live and YouTube.

Technology Defined 2020

Technology has been a growing part of our lives for decades, but 2020 accelerated this trend. These tech trends didn’t just impact the gadgets people bought, but they shaped their way of life. Many of these shifts were inevitable, but they happened far faster than anyone expected, making the change more dramatic.

The tech trends that defined 2020 will likely continue into 2021. These technologies and how people use them reshaped the way people go about their lives, and that won’t revert quickly. While they may have risen at a meteoric rate, it’ll take a lot longer for them to fade away.