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Inside WWDC23: A Firsthand Account of Apple's Epic Developer Event

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Dan
Head of Mobile Development
Jun 7, 2023 โ€ข 4 min

WWDC, the Worldwide Developers Conference, is Apple’s highly anticipated and go-to event for iOS developers that brings together a diverse community of engineers and designers. 

This year I was fortunate to receive an invitation to attend the event, and now, I'm thrilled to share my personal experience and take you behind the scenes. So, join me on a virtual journey as we explore the captivating world of WWDC and get ready to be inspired.

 

About WWDC, briefly  ๐Ÿ

The main goal of WWDC is to unveil Apple's latest software updates and advancements across its ecosystem. Attendees get an exclusive look at new versions of iOS, macOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS, along with innovative features and tools, but the event is also a great opportunity for developers to enhance their skills, network with industry experts, collaborate, share their innovations, and gain valuable insights into Apple's development practices. 

While the main keynote is broadcasted live for free, there's something even more special — an in-person event held at Apple Park, which offers a variety of exciting activities that add to the excitement and exclusivity. 

 

Badge pick-up  ๐Ÿชช

I had two options for picking up my badge at the event: either in the morning or the day before; however, in order to fully embrace the Apple experience, I opted for the latter and collected my kit on Sunday, June 4th, at Apple Infinite Loop. 
Here’s how I was welcomed:

Upon arrival, I was greeted by a vibrant atmosphere filled with joyful people. The inner court welcomed visitors with open arms, offering a delightful blend of food, drinks, music, and games, making it a warm and inviting ambience, even if don't know anyone. Here, I took my time to soak in the experience and prepare myself for the grand day ahead.

 

Kicking-off WWDC  โœจ

As I stepped foot into Apple Park, I admired the stunning surroundings and captured a few photos; then, to start my WWDC experience on a delicious note, I indulged in a delightful breakfast served from 8 am to 10 am. 

The food options ranged from delectable sweet treats to savoury delights, accompanied by a rich selection of beverages, and there were plenty of seats also to comfortably enjoy a tasty meal. 

I was impressed by the grand stage setup and rows of chairs awaiting the eager audience, and this year the organisers thoughtfully installed a sunroof, too, to shield us from the bright California sun. Seemed like every detail had been carefully considered to ensure our utmost comfort.

Shortly before 10 am, Tim Cook and Craig Federighi stepped on the stage. 
Seeing them in person and feeling their infectious energy was a pretty surreal experience. Then, once they finished their presentations, they made their way into the audience, connected with us attendees, and joined us in watching the keynote, which was really inspiring.

The atmosphere was electric throughout the whole keynote. Watching the crowd’s reaction to the updates was something I couldn’t fully appreciate when I followed the event online. Now, I got to witness it up close. The room erupted with applause and laughter, and sometimes, there was a hush of anticipation (especially when they unveiled those price tags!) that further deepened a sense of belonging, excitement and surprise.
 

Speaking of updates, let's dive into what they unveiled this year on the hardware front:

New Macbook Air with a 15.3” screen  
Mac Studio got a chip upgrade to M2 Max and M2 Ultra
Mac Pro finally got an Apple Silicon chip - the M2 Ultra
 

On the software side:

iOS  ๐Ÿ“ฑ

- New features for the Call, Messages and FaceTime apps (transcripts of voice messages, full-screen photo for each contact that calls you, copy-paste as stickers)
- Improvements to AirDrop - NameDrop and transferring large files when you're no longer in the range
- Journal app -  to log personal recollections, thoughts and activities on a regular basis
- StandBy - to use the iPhone as a clock with widgets when it’s locked and in landscape mode

 

iPadOS, macOS  ๐Ÿ’ป

- Widgets with interactive buttons
- iPad: working with PDFs: autofill, sign; real-time collabs; Health app
- macOS: interactive video conferences, gaming mode, shared passkey
 

 

watchOS  โŒš๏ธ

- new design, widgets
- cycling mode
- last known location with GSM signal or SOS alert
 

Of course, these are just the highlights, there were other software updates too; however, the one we cannot overlook is:

 

Vision Pro  ๐Ÿ”ฅ

Vision Pro is truly unique. Think of it as a remarkable computer that comes with a camera system, high-quality speakers, and a built-in screen. 

This device deserves a separate blog post, but here’s a glimpse of the capabilities it comes with:

- astonishing resolution of approximately 4k per eye
- gesture control without any additional equipment.
- expandable scene (infinite) 
- movie mode with dimmed lights and adjustable sound
- option to reveal or conceal the user’s eyes during interactions 

The price of Apple’s first spatial computer starts at 3499$, which is quite steep for most people, but for those who truly harness its potential, it can be a remarkable investment., Vision Pro could be a great investment.
 

After the keynote wrapped up, around the two-hour mark, it was time to explore further, connect and share the excitement with fellow attendees. Everyone had the chance to enjoy a leisurely lunch or even snap a photo with Craig or Tim. 

 

Lunch and Networking  ๐Ÿ›

The lunch break was an absolute treat with an open bar available for almost two hours. There was an incredible variety of food from different corners of the world, including Italian and Japanese cuisines. It provided a great opportunity to mingle and connect with fellow developers over a delicious meal.

During this time, I also took the chance to explore certain areas of the campus and marvel at Apple's remarkable surroundings.

 

Platforms - State of the Union Keynote  ๐Ÿ› ๏ธ

Delving into the technical side, the State of the Union Keynote showcased the latest updates for Swift, Xcode, and software development in general. It was fascinating to witness code examples and observe how these changes seamlessly integrated into various applications. The keynote initially focused on Swift and SwiftUI, gradually transitioning to Watch apps and even demonstrating the utilisation of the Vision Pro headset and its accompanying API. The presentation lasted approximately 1.5 hours.

 

Tour  ๐ŸŸ๏ธ

Following the Platforms keynote, attendees had the option to join tours around the campus. There was a tour available within the inner Apple Ring office and another one outside amidst the beautiful surroundings of lush trees.

Personally, having already explored the accessible areas of the Ring after lunch, I didn't venture on the tour this time. Nevertheless, the grandeur of Apple Park and its surroundings never ceased to impress.
 
 

 

Meet the Teams ๐Ÿง‘‍๐Ÿ’ป

Simultaneously, there was a delightful "Meet the Team" event where several Apple teams (SwiftUI, camera, ML, frameworks, and tools) were present to address any questions. It was an amazing opportunity to engage with these experts and gain insights into their work at Apple and the dynamics of their respective teams.

 

Apple Design Awards  ๐Ÿ†

At 5:30 pm, the highly anticipated App Design Awards took place, honouring outstanding apps across multiple categories. We were particularly proud as our partner, Transreport’s app, received a nomination in the Inclusivity category. ๐ŸŽ‰

Although it didn't secure the win, being so close to receiving an Apple Design Award was truly remarkable. Other categories included Delight and Fun, Interaction, Social Impact, Visuals and Graphics, and Innovation.

 

Special Evening Activity  ๐Ÿ’ซ

An unexpected surprise awaited us—an undisclosed special evening activity. Throughout the day, Apple representatives had dropped hints about it being related to Vision Pro. Eventually, after a slight delay, we were led in small groups to the Steve Jobs Theater, situated on a small hill separate from the Ring.

While we didn't have the chance to experience the headset firsthand - which was understandable, given the logistical challenges of accommodating such a large group - we were able to see the newly announced products in real life. So we toyed around with the 15” Macbook Air in all its vibrant colours and the Mac Pro, including a version with an open case. 

 

Dinner and Farewell  ๐Ÿ‘‹

As the day drew to a close, those who still desired a bite to eat could head to the caffe, which remained open until 8:00 pm. Upon leaving the campus, we were greeted with an Apple shop just across the entrance, showcasing the latest offerings. The cheerful ambiance persisted, even as we bid farewell to an unforgettable day.

Although the main keynote day has officially concluded, WWDC itself continues to unfold.

 

Next Few Days  โญ๏ธ

On the second day (Tuesday), an additional event took place at the Apple Developer Center. Unfortunately, the schedule didn't provide a clear indication of its specific focus, leaving it as a subject for a future article where we can explore it in detail.
WWDC continues its activities until June 9th,  featuring labs and coding sessions for all platforms. These valuable sessions are made available online, allowing developers from all over to join and watch.

 

Takeaways

While watching the keynote and technical sessions online provides a pleasant experience, being physically present takes it to a whole new level. 

Attending in person grants you the opportunity to engage not only with the Apple teams but also with fellow iOS and other Apple platform developers. Additionally, you gain firsthand insight into the Apple work environment and get an exclusive sneak peek at new products before they are unveiled to the public.

Overall, it is an incredibly rewarding experience, and this year's announcements have undoubtedly heightened the excitement surrounding WWDC.
 

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