With each passing year, we gain access to more impressive tech. And while a lot of that tech is designed specifically to make everyday functions easier for us (and in some cases literally effortless), some of it also has to be learned to be fully appreciated. The good news is that this is often a fun process, and it can lead to fun new hobbies, or even new job opportunities. So with that in mind, here are our picks for some of the coolest tech skills you can teach yourself in 2020.
1. Photo Editing
Photo editing is not a distinctly modern concept by any means. However, we do have more advanced tools for it than we’ve ever had before. We looked at the ‘10 Best Free Photo Editors for Windows PC’ last September, and there are similarly excellent programs for other operating systems, such that no matter what devices you use you’ll have top-notch options. Most of these editing programs can be a little bit dizzying at first. But by going through a few tutorials and doing a bit of experimentation you can figure them out, and before you know it you’ll be putting together stunning images. Whether that means editing family photos to perfection or crafting nature shots worthy of National Geographic will be up to you!
2. App Design
A couple years ago, building an app would have sounded just about impossible to someone without coding ability or experience with this sort of project. But now this skill is a great deal more accessible. In 2018, Lifehacker pointed out a number of design platforms that can help you to design an app without actually knowing how to code (such as AppyPie and AppInstitute, to name a few). But rest assured, the design process still involves some skill. Even without having to code, there are a lot of decisions to make, and you’ll likely go through a fair amount of trial and error before you put together a final product. That said, if you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can also take some time to learn how to code, and build an app from scratch.
3. 3D Printing
3D printing, naturally, is an automated process. However, designing a product to be 3D printed takes a great deal of patience and skill. There’s a learning curve, but by reading up on a given software and trying some designs yourself, you’ll likely get the hang of it. And then it’s just a matter of doing the actual printing. If you’re planning to get really into it, you might consider investing in your own 3D printer and the material to go with it. These days though, it may be more convenient to outsource the actual printing once you have your designs. Fictiv goes over some of the convenience now offered with manufacturing of this sort, and makes it clear that your order — be it for one product or many — can be processed, printed, and made available to you in just a few days’ time.
If you feel that with each passing month someone else you know launches a new podcast, don’t worry — you’re not alone. This has become an extremely popular medium of expression, whether for the sake of personal creativity or in support of a business. And while podcasting may not seem entirely like a “tech skill,” there’s actually a lot involved in putting together a successful program. The Balance Small Business did a nice job of outlining the process, from the simple things (like naming your podcast) to the more involved ones (like choosing audio-editing software and recording intros). Altogether learning how to podcast is fairly involved, but also quite rewarding. Plus, you never know where it may take you.