Stuff About Apple

Make the most out of the 5 day (online) conference

Screenshot of developer.apple.com/wwdc20

Every year since 1987, Apple developers have had something to look forwards to — WWDC. As Apple’s annual conference for developers, it serves as the stage for the release of new software and operating systems, and (occasionally) hardware like the Pro Display XDR.

In 2020, for the 31st anniversary of WWDC, the pandemic happened. Google cancelled its developer conference. Facebook cancelled theirs. Would Apple cancel, too 😨? On March 13, Apple made an announcement: WWDC would still take place, but in “an entirely new online format,” starting June 22 😁.

That raised some questions. Would it still cost $1599? How would Apple recreate the authentic WWDC experience? Apple released more details on May 5, centering on the Swift Student Challenge. And today, on June 11, Apple confirmed the entire schedule of the 5-day conference. There’s a lot to expect, and I would be rushing to every single event — if I didn’t know better. Even though WWDC20 will be hosted online, each of the 5 days will still be packed full with keynotes, sessions, and labs… You’ll need to select which ones you want to experience first, as not all of them are recorded for later…

Below, I’ll introduce every event in the currently confirmed schedule (as of June 11), and I’ll share my thoughts on which ones I think you should really attend 😁.

How to join

WWDC20 will be an interactive experience — some events will be streamed live, while others will only be accessible by appointment or through the Developer Forums. I’ll put instructions on how to attend each one underneath every heading below.

Pre-WWDC Events

June 16 - Swift Student Challenge Finalists Announced!

How to attend: Students that submitted a playground will be able to view their results here, but I’m not sure where the public announcement will be hosted (if there is one).

The winners of the Swift Student Challenge will be announced! Submissions were due on May 17. Normally, there would have been a WWDC Scholarship available — students of all ages could compete in a challenge (building a Swift Playground). Those who built the best playgrounds would be selected for free admission to WWDC (usually around 300 students).

Because WWDC20 will be free, Apple has gotten rid the scholarship and instead made a competition called the “Swift Student Challenge”. The objective is the same — building a Swift Playground — but the prize is instead an “exclusive WWDC20 jacket and pin set.”

At WWDC20, the winners will be eligible for the 1-on-1 Developer Labs from June 23 to June 26 (space is limited and you must either be a Swift Student Challenge winner or a member of the Apple Developer Program to register… more details later).

June 18 - Refreshed Developer Forums Launched!

How to attend: Just log on to forums.developer.apple.com!

A new version of the Apple Developer Forums will be released! The current interface is extremely outdated, and there are some scary-looking messages (for example, apparently your username can never be changed)…

The current welcome screen for new users.

Conversations are limited to text messaging with no support for video chat, a feature that would make sense for WWDC20’s online format.

During the entirety of WWDC20 (June 22–26), eligible members will be able to connect with over 1000 Apple engineers. You’ll be able to get help and guidance, or start a technical discussion!

According to the WWDC website, to be an “eligible member,” you must be at least one of the following:

  • A Swift Student Challenge winner
  • An Apple Developer Program member ($99/year)
  • An Apple Developer Enterprise Program member ($299/year)

Membership is kind of pricey, but it’s a very valuable asset in my opinion (also included is the ability to distribute apps on the App Store).

Only eligible members will be able to post their own questions, but anyone can view the forums and follow along.

WWDC Starts!

June 22 - First Day of WWDC20!

There’s 2 events on June 22 — the Special Event Keynote in the morning and the Platforms State of the Union in the afternoon.

1. Special Event Keynote | 10 a.m. PDT

How to attend:

The keynote address will stream directly from Apple Park via apple.com, the Apple Developer app, the Apple Developer website, the Apple TV app, and YouTube, and will also be available for on-demand playback after the conclusion of the stream. For viewers in China, the keynote will also stream on Tencent, iQIYI, Bilibili, and Youku.
-source: Apple Newsroom

WWDC will kick off with the “Special Event Keynote”! This is a must-attend event — iOS 14 will almost certainly be revealed, while macOS 10.16, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 are just as likely. We might also see some new hardware, like AirTags (similar to Tile).

There have also been heavy rumors in the past months about switching to ARM for Macs’ processors. Apparently, Apple is dissatisfied with Intel’s lack of innovation — switching to ARM would bring increased flexibility, allowing for benefits like “graphics performance bumps, gains in artificial intelligence and power efficiency,” according to Tom’s Guide.

Apple’s custom-made ARM-based chips for the iPhone and iPad are way faster than the closest competitor, with the A12X Bionic scoring 4623 on a Multi-core benchmark 😎. And if Apple manages to make their own chips for the Mac, think of all the possibilities…

WWDC20 would make sense for such an announcement, as it would give developers time to recompile and redesign their code. But because Apple just released a new MacBook Pro 13 last month, I don’t think it’s extremely likely that we’ll be seeing new ARM-based Macs at WWDC20.

2. Platforms State of the Union | 2 p.m. PDT

How to attend: Visit the Apple Developer website or the Apple Developer app. If you’re in China, check out Tencent, iQIYI, Bilibili or YouKu.

The Platforms State of the Union is for those that want to “dive deeper into the latest advances across iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.” Apple engineering leaders will be speaking, which means that the event will most likely focus on technical-level API changes.

This event will be “on demand”, which may mean that it won’t be live and will just be a pre-recorded video. However, the first to watch will be the first to get some hands-on experience — new APIs are always interesting and you could incorporate them into your next app.

It’s going to be a more technical presentation, but even if you’re not a developer, it’ll be worth checking it out just to see what powers the next generation of Apple devices. But it won’t be the end of the world if you miss it — you’ll be able to watch it later.

June 23 to 26 - Sessions and Labs!

These will be the “workshop” days where you can get hands-on experience, while getting help from Apple engineers 🤓! During this period, there will be 2 ongoing events: Engineering sessions (consisting of 100+ videos) and Developer Labs (by appointment).

1. Engineering Sessions

How to attend: Videos will be posted on the Apple Developer website and also the Apple Developer app.

Every day from June 23 to June 26, new videos will be posted at 10 a.m. PDT. In the end, there will be over 100 “technical and design-focused” videos, presented by Apple engineers. You’ll be able to watch these sessions even after WWDC20 ends — but it’s only during WWDC20 that you’ll be able to connect with 1000s of Apple engineers (on the Developer Forums), so that you can ask questions while you watch the videos.

If you’re short on time, make sure to watch the “design-focused” videos — a good programmer should always have the UI and UX in mind. Your users won’t be able to see the source code, but they can see the interface — and if your design is out-of-date, that’s not good.

2. 1-on-1 Developer Labs (by appointment)

How to attend: You’ll be able to “request an appointment with the Apple engineers who helped build the latest advances in Apple platforms,” but the details of where to register aren’t released yet.

If I were you, I’d get up as early as possible on each day, from June 22 to June 26, to visit the Apple Developer website — I’d then look for a sign-up form or something like that (because we don’t know where to sign up yet!). Here’s the official instructions on how to sign-up, though:

Eligible members can simply sign in, choose a lab from the schedule, enter your question, and submit. Availability is limited. Requests will be reviewed and you’ll receive an email with your status

Apple also says that “Developer Labs will be open to Apple Developer Program members as space is available,” which means that there are going to be a LOT of people who will try to join. Try to secure an appointment early. If you make it in, you’ll get to actually talk with an Apple engineer and take away much more than just technical knowledge — having human-to-human contact with someone that works at Apple could definitely help you out in the future.

And that’s all the info that’s released so far! As WWDC20 comes closer, Apple also recommends downloading the Apple Developer app, “where additional WWDC20 information will be shared ahead of June 22.” Similarly, “Information will also be made available on the Apple Developer website and by email.”

Thanks for reading!

More news on WWDC20: