Apple's World Wide Developers Conference Goes Virtual (and Free)

COVID-19 has us all, including Apple, changing the way we do things

The annual developers conference is both virtual and free this year, putting all Apple devs on an equal footing, which could lead to some interesting innovations.

Three emojis peering over MacBooks, one with a WWDC 2020 sticker on it
Apple Inc

Apple announced that its 31st annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) will start on June 22, 2020 as a virtual event. It will be free to all registered developers, down from the typical $1500 ticket price.

What is WWDC? This event is typically held in the summer, with developers from all over the globe coming to attend workshops, learn new skills, and hear Apple's plans for its various operating systems. This year, it's likely we'll see new information about iOS 14 and watchOS 7, as predicted by MacRumors.

Virtual reality: Thanks to the global pandemic, Apple and other companies have had to scramble to keep their typical schedules, including developer conferences. Microsoft's Build has been made free and scheduled as a virtual event for May 19th and 20th, while Facebook's annual F8 conference was straight-up canceled.

Phil Schiller says: “WWDC20 will be our biggest yet, bringing together our global developer community of more than 23 million in an unprecedented way for a week in June to learn about the future of Apple platforms,” Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said in a statement.

Student opportunity: Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering (affectionately known as Hair Force One), noted that there were more than 350 students from 37 different countries that attended WWDC last year. To further encourage students to develop for Apple platforms, Federighi announced that the company will hold a new Swift Student Challenge. Students will build a Swift Playground environment using Apple's Swift coding software, while competing for a collectible WWDC20 jacket and pin set.

The bigger picture: By having the event virtually and charging no fee for access, Apple is setting up for perhaps more developers than ever to attend the event. It could be a sea change by encouraging students and developers that could not otherwise afford the entry fee or associated travel costs. We could even see an increase in new, interesting apps from such a larger group of software makers.

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