The coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench into Apple's plans for its annual Worldwide Developer Conference event, now entering its 31st year. Due to the health crisis, Apple in March joined a number of other companies shifting their in-person events to virtual ones with an announcement that WWDC20 would be held online. Today, the company has revealed the lineup it has planned for its virtual developer event, including its anticipated special keynote address on June 22.
The company announced this morning that WWDC20 would include many the same features developers have come to expect from the annual event, including the keynote address, Platforms State of the Union, over 100 engineering sessions, 1-on-1 labs with over 1,000 Apple engineers and an "all-new" version of the Apple Developer Forums.
The latter is in reference to a coming redesign of Apple's existing Developer Forums that arrives June 18. The update is focused on allowing developers to connect with Apple engineers in a virtual environment, given they will no longer be able to do so in person. Apple says over 1,000 engineers will be available to answer questions and engage in technical discussions in the forums, starting on the first day of WWDC. Apple Developer Program members will also be able to post questions for engineers to answer.
Similarly, Apple has virtualized its Developer Labs for this year's events. Now, instead of sitting down in person with an Apple engineer, developers will be able to request an appointment with engineers who helped build the technical advancements the developer wants to implement in their own apps. These labs, which run June 23 to June 26, will also be made available to Apple Developer Program members as space is available.
Starting June 23, Apple will post videos of over 100 technical and design-focused sessions headed by Apple engineers. The videos will post every day at 10 a.m. PDT and will be available to developers in the new Apple Developer app for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, as well as on the Developer website.
Of course, the big draw for developers and nondevelopers alike is the Apple Special Event Keynote.
This year, the keynote address will be held on June 22 at 10 a.m. PDT, streaming from Apple Park via apple.com, the Apple Developer app, the Apple Developer website, the Apple TV app and again, YouTube. For viewers in China, it will stream on Tencent, iQIYI, Bilibili and Youku. After airing, the keynote will be offered for on-demand viewing across platforms.
The developer-focused Platforms State of the Union keynote will follow at 2 p.m. PDT, where Apple engineering leaders will offer deep dives into new technical features and advances across iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS. This keynote will be available on-demand on the Apple Developer app and the Apple Developer website. Like the Special Event keynote, the Platforms State of the Union will also be available for playback on Tencent, iQIYI, Bilibili and YouKu for viewers in China.
Ahead of WWDC20, Apple will announce the finalists for its Swift Student Challenge on June 16, the company notes.
Apple is one of many companies now working to take its event online. But hosting a successful version of WWDC may be difficult because it lacks the real-world interactions, serendipitous connections, in-person networking and face-to-face technical support that Apple's traditional developer conference offers. After all, developer videos and forums were always available, but developers from around the world still flocked to Apple's event to attend in person.
Apple says more information will be made available in the Apple Developer App, on the Apple Developer website, and by email ahead of this year's event.
Here's a short summary of the schedule for easy reference:
Special Event Keynote: June 22, 10 a.m. PDT
Platforms State of the Union: June 22, 2 p.m. PDT
Engineering Sessions: June 23-26
New Apple Developer Forums: June 18 redesign, engineers arrive for Q&A June 22
1-on-1 Developer Labs: June 23-26