One of the biggest dates in the Apple calendar is WWDC, short for Worldwide Developer Conference. It's Apple's yearly, week-long summer event for software developers - but it's also the venue where Apple makes some of the biggest announcements of the year.
Apple fills most of the time with developer workshops, training, parties and networking events, but it starts the week with a keynote speech announcing major updates to the software running on its Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Apple TVs and other devices. There might be some significant hardware unveilings too: WWDC 2017 saw the unveiling of the HomePod, we usually see new Macs at the event, and the second, third and fourth iPhones all made their debuts at WWDC in the past.
In this article we discuss what you can expect at WWDC 2018: likely dates, product updates, other events. Plus how to get tickets (and how much they're likely to cost), and how to follow the announcements online if you can't make it.
When will WWDC 2018 take place?
WWDC will be held from 4-8 June 2018, in San Jose. The venue is the McEnery Convention Center, same as last year.
What will Apple announce at WWDC 2018?
Software & services
Updates to the big four software platforms are nailed-on certainties: that means iOS 12, macOS 10.14, watchOS 5 and tvOS 12 will all get stage time during the keynote - but don't expect them to arrive on your Macs and iOS products until later in the year.
As for new features, we're hearing that Apple's mostly focusing on security and stability with this round of software updates, but one of the most exciting changes we are expecting is that MacOS will be able to run iOS apps.
We could also get some news about Apple's Apple's TV and movie ambitions, (yes, Apple's planning to take on Netflix!) and we expect to hear more about the progress of Apple Pay: including the launch of Apple Pay Cash in the UK, for example.
As ever, and even though this is principally a software event, media hype will revolve around possible hardware announcements. We're hoping to hear some more details about the upcoming Mac Pro update, for one thing: but it's not yet been confirmed if it will be launched this year or in 2019. Apple's also said it will launch a new screen to go with the Mac Pro, so expect to see more about this at WWDC.
A Chinese site - without much of a track record in this area, so take this with a pinch of salt - thinks we'll get a new iPhone SE. That would be a surprise but isn't completely unprecedented: the iPhones 3G, 3GS and 4 all debuted at WWDC keynotes. Actually, we think a iPhone SE2 might be in the works - but we think we will actually see it sooner than WWDC.
There is also the expectation that Apple will unveil a new iPad Pro with Face ID and a bigger screen (made possible by reduced bezels and the removal of the Home button) this June.
We're also hearing rumours that Apple will launch a new 13in MacBook at the event. The surprising aspect to this rumour is that it's said that this updated MacBook will come in at the equivalent price of the MacBook Air - in fact, the idea is that this new Mac laptop will be a MacBook Air with a Retina display. Read more about the new MacBook Air rumours here.
We also think that Apple could reveal an update to the MacBook Pro, and maybe also a 2018 MacBook at the event. There may even be a new Mac mini coming. We are particularly excited that the new MacBook Pro could ship with 6 cores!
Past WWDC announcements
We can learn a lot from history. Here are the highlights of the past 12 WWDC events:
- WWDC 2017 (5-9 June, McEnery Convention Center, San Jose): macOS High Sierra, iOS 11, watchOS 4, tvOS 11, new iPad Pro models, iMac Pro, MacBook upgrades; HomePod
- WWDC 2016 (13-17 June, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium & Moscone Center West, San Francisco): macOS Sierra, iOS 10, watchOS 3, tvOS 10
- WWDC 2015 (8-12 June, Moscone Center, San Francisco): Mac OS X 'El Capitan'; iOS 9; watchOS 2; Apple Music
- WWDC 2014 (2-6 June, Moscone Center, San Francisco): Mac OS X 10.10 'Yosemite'; iOS 8; Swift programming language
- WWDC 2013 (10-14 June, Moscone Center, San Francisco): New Mac Pro; New MacBook Air models; Mac OS X 10.9 'Mavericks'; iOS 7; iWork for iCloud; iTunes Radio
- WWDC 2012 (11-15 June, Moscone Center, San Francisco): New MacBooks: updated MacBook Airs and MacBook Pro with Retina Display; Mac OS X 10.8 'Mountain Lion' (sort of - it had previously been announced on Apple's website, but this was its showcase demonstration); iOS 6
- WWDC 2011 (6-10 June, Moscone Center, San Francisco): Mac OS X 10.7 'Lion'; iOS 5; iCloud
- WWDC 2010 (7-11 June, Moscone Center, San Francisco): iPhone 4; FaceTime and iMovie for iPhone
- WWDC 2009 (8-12 June, Moscone Center, San Francisco): New MacBook Pro models: a new 13-inch MacBook Pro and updates to the 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pros; iPhone 3GS; release of iPhone OS 3.0 (which had already been announced)
- WWDC 2008 (9-13 June, Moscone Center, San Francisco): iPhone 3G; iOS App Store; iPhone OS version 2.0; Mac OS X 10.6 'Snow Leopard'; MobileMe
- WWDC 2007 (11-15 June, Moscone Center, San Francisco): Feature-complete beta of Mac OS X 10.5 'Leopard'; Safari for Windows
- WWDC 2006 (7-11 August, Moscone Center, San Francisco): Mac Pro; revisions to Mac OS X 10.5 'Leopard' (which had already been announced) and Mac OS X Server
For a closer look at previous WWDCs, visit our History of Apple's WWDC product launches article.
What else happens at WWDC?
As well as the keynote speech on the first day, there are a series of events run by the company throughout the following week: developer workshops and training sessions, networking events and so on. In the past other companies have held events too, with Apple's blessing: last year Apple posted a list of such events on the Beyond WWDC page of its developer website.
A few highlights from 2017:
- Beard Bash 2017, a developers' party with live music. Hosted by Jim Dalrymple, the founder of the Loop website.
- The Talk Show with John Gruber Live. Fairly self-explanatory. In the past Apple execs have turned up and offered insights beyond what was mentioned in the keynote.
- Swift workshops run by IBM.
- AltConf 2018. A conference for developers.
The best way to keep up with the schedule of events, parties and workshops at WWDC is to download the WWDC iOS app. As well as extensive news and scheduling information the app offers interactive venue maps, curated video playlists and (if 2017 is anything to go by) some truly awful emoji-based puns.
How to get WWDC tickets
Tickets to WWDC are distributed by lottery. Registration to the lottery has now closed, but each year a number of unclaimed tickets are resold after the lottery, so you may still have a chance if you miss out in the first draw.
Apple also offers free entry to WWDC, and accommodation for the week, to the winners of its WWDC Scholarship program. To qualify for this you need to be in part- or full-time education and be a registered Apple developer, and submit a Swift Playground.
Read more about all of this here: How to get tickets for WWDC.
Why does Apple distribute WWDC tickets by lottery?
Back in 2012, all 5,000 WWDC tickets sold out within two hours. Developers had no prior warning from the company about the event and, understandably, many of those who missed out were far from happy. In 2013, after Apple decided to let devs know in advance when tickets would go on sale, it took only two minutes.
So, in 2014, Apple took a completely different approach to its ticket sales - one that has become Apple's way of distributing tickets ever since. Instead of issuing tickets on a 'first come first served' basis, Apple offered everyone a chance to win the chance to buy a ticket by registering for a lottery.
How much do WWDC tickets cost?
Even if your name is drawn in the ticket lottery, you'll still have to pay to attend WWDC. In 2018 it will cost $1,599 (about £1,140), the same price as in 2017.