Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, tech companies have wrestled with how to deal with their annual conferences, which are crucial venues for announcing new products and reinforcing developer loyalty. Like other firms, Apple decided to cancel the in-person version of WWDC, its Worldwide Developers Conference. Now it’s giving more detail into the virtual version that will replace it for this year.
Taking place online from June 22 to 26, WWDC 2020 will (if history is any indication) offer the first glimpse at the next iterations of iOS, macOS, and Apple’s other software products. Here’s the breakdown of main events:
Keynote (10 A.M. PDT): This is where Apple executives will take to the stage to announce the latest software iterations and developer tools. Apple plans to stream it on apple.com.
Platforms State of the Union (2 P.M. PDT): Apple’s engineering heads will detail the latest features in iOS, iPadOS, watchOS and other products. In order to view this portion, you’ll have to either download the Apple Developer App or else head over to the Apple Developer website.
Engineering Sessions: These technical sessions will offer a deep dive into Apple code. Apple plans to post the videos of these sessions every day at 10 A.M. PDT. They’ll be available on the Apple Developer website along with the Apple Developer App.
Developer Labs: These appointment-only sessions will offer developers the chance to interact with Apple engineers about technical issues and how to implement the new features of Apple’s various software platforms. Only Apple Developer Program members can apply for slots.
What’s Coming at This WWDC?
What will Apple actually announce this year? That’s a difficult question to answer, as Apple (as always) enjoys keeping a tight veil of secrecy drawn around its latest products and services. If rumors prove correct, the company will take this opportunity to show off its ARM-based Macs, and offer developers some pointers on how to build for the new ARM-on-Mac paradigm.
As with every WWDC, Apple will also give some insight into the next iOS. The ever-churning rumor mill suggests that iOS 14 will have updated fitness and messaging apps, as well as compatibility with Apple Pencil. According to MacRumors, there’s also the possibility of a new, robust AR (augmented-reality) app, although it seems unlikely that Apple will use this WWDC to unveil its much-anticipated AR headset.
Apple will also announce updates to macOS (version 10.16), which could receive updates to Siri and a new messaging app. If Apple indeed announces ARM-on-Mac, trust that much of its time will focus on porting apps to the new platform.
Updates to watchOS could include blood-oxygen tracking and new watch-faces. As with previous WWDCs, there’s also the chance that Apple could unveil new hardware products, such as a cheaper HomePod, but that’s a riskier bet; the company generally likes to use the conference to unveil software.