One of the biggest dates in the Apple calendar is WWDC: its Worldwide Developer Conference. This is Apple's yearly, week-long summer event for software developers, but it's also when Apple makes some of its biggest product announcements.
WWDC features developer workshops, training, parties and networking events, but starts with a keynote speech announcing major updates to the software running on the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and other devices. There can be some significant hardware unveilings too: WWDC 2017 saw the unveiling of the HomePod, we often see new Macs at the event, and the second, third and fourth iPhones all made their debuts at WWDC events.
In this article we discuss what happened at the WWDC 2018 keynote: dates, times, product announcements and more. Plus details of ticket distribution, and how to follow the announcements online if you can't make it.
When does WWDC 2018 take place?
WWDC runs from 4-8 June 2018, in San Jose. The venue is the McEnery Convention Center, same as last year.
When did the WWDC keynote take place?
The keynote presentation took place on 4 June at 10am (PT), which was 6pm (BST) here in the UK.
Is there a video of the WWDC keynote?
What did Apple announce at WWDC 2018?
Apple normally uses WWDC to introduce the next version of its operating systems (for Mac, iPhone, Apple TV and Apple Watch) to developers, and this year was no exception. It also often announces some hardware too - but this year was 'all about the software', so no new physical products were announced beyond a single watch strap.
All of the new software updates will be available to users some time in fall/autumn, with developer beta versions available after the keynote.
Apple opened its iOS 12 presentation with a focus on one thing: performance, which the company says it's 'doubling down' on, with performance boosts like apps opening twice as fast. Those benefits will apply to every device that runs iOS 12, which will be every device capable of running iOS 11.
Apple also revealed more about its plans for AR, including launching ARKit 2. That began with the announcement of a new .usdz file format for AR software, along with a sneak peak at Adobe's adoption of the AR tools, and a glimpse at new apps like Measure.
The most exciting new feature, though, is the introduction of shared AR environments, with multiple devices capable of seeing the same augmented reality environment from their own perspectives, allowing for true multiplayer experiences, which they showed off with a live demo based on a physical Lego set that became an interactive, multiplayer AR environment.
Siri got some updates too - chiefly app shortcuts, which allow you to add new phrases of your choice to Siri, each linked to functionality within specific apps - like finding sports scores, or playing a meditation. Siri will also suggest apps you might want to use based on your normal behaviour, or even things like suggesting you turn on Do Not Disturb at the cinema, or call your grandma on her birthday.
Here's how to make Siri shortcuts.
Apple also added some big changes to combat 'smartphone addiction': a revamped Do Not Disturb that can switch off all lock screen notifications at night or during certain calendar events; an activity report that tells you how much time you spend on specific apps; and time limits you can set for apps (with special features for parents). Here's how to limit app usage with Screen Time.
Animoji were another focus. Not only did Apple add a few new Animoji, along with new 'tongue detection', it introduced Memoji, customisable Animoji based on your own face - very similar to Samsung's AR Emoji. You can even add them in as a sticker effect on top of photos in Messages.
Other features announced include search suggestions and sharing suggestions in Photos, the change from iBooks to Apple Books along with a store redesign, the addition of third-party navigation apps to CarPlay, grouped notifications, and group FaceTime (with up to 32 participants!).
Unsurprisingly, macOS got a few big changes, including a new name for the latest version: Mojave.
The first feature Apple showed off is Dark Mode, which applies across the OS to change the menu and UI colours to shades of black and grey - suitable for darker environments, or just people who want their colours to pop a little more.
Desktop Stacks are another big change, allowing you to sort your desktop icons into stacks by type or date, which you can then scroll through, sort, and open - like simple, easily accessible folders built right into the desktop.
Another cool feature built into the image editing and notetaking tools lets you activate your iPhone from your Mac to open the camera, take a photo or scan a document, and immediately save that image directly into the document on your Mac.
A lot of the focus was also on security. Apple introduced stronger and broader default security settings for all apps that covers the camera and microphone, tighter restrictions on tracking cookies online, and more limited sharing of details of your Mac configuration online to restrict 'fingerprinting' and tracking of your behaviour.
The Mac App Store has also had a total redesign, in line with last year's changes to the iOS App Store. New tabs like Create, Work, Play and Develop lead you to apps that suit your needs; the Discover tab has detailed stories about specific apps; and app pages have been totally redesigned to bring ratings and reviews front and centre, and tweak how apps will be ranked.
One of the biggest longterm changes is the long-rumoured linking of macOS and iOS. The two will stay firmly separate, but Apple said that in 2019 developers will get access to new tools to port apps easily from iOS to macOS, with minimal code changes - as shown off in a few of the new apps Apple itself announced.
Smaller additions include quick editing tools for screenshots, the introduction of News and Voice Memos, a Mac app for Apple Home with Siri support, and tweaks to Metal and eGPU support.
watchOS also got a new update, with a few new features. One big one is Competitions, which allows you and a friend to set 7-day activity competitions with one another, with notifications and new badges to match.
Another is Walkie-Talkie, a new app which lets you send short voice messages to other Apple Watch users over either cellular or Wi-Fi, fusing text messages and phone calls.
Smaller updates include a few new workouts like yoga and hiking, automatic workout detection, Siri shortcuts (see more about them in the iOS 12 section above), third-party apps on the Siri watch face, interactive notifications, improvements to the Podcasts app, and the ability to start talking to Siri by just raising the watch (without saying 'Hey Siri').
Apple Watch also got the only hardware announcement of the night (sort of): a rainbow strap for Pride Month, together with a matching new watch face.
tvOS also got a few small updates this year (though not a new full version number) along with some upgrades for the Apple TV 4K. The big one is probably the introduction of Dolby Atmos surround sound support for the TV 4K, along with free upgrades to Atmos within iTunes - which will apparently now have the biggest range of Atmos content anywhere.
On a software side, the biggest changes are linked to partnerships with cable companies. Apple announced a few on-stage (though none in the UK yet), with benefits like support for their remotes, and zero sign-on if you're already connected through your cable provider's broadband.
WWDC is principally a software event, and this year even more so than normal: Apple didn't make a single major hardware announcement, keeping things strictly software. Below you can read what we thought might get announced but didn't, which will at least give some hints as to what you can expect from the company at its next event, likely in September.
We were hoping to hear some more details about the upcoming Mac Pro update, for one thing: but Apple's already said it won't be ready to launch until 2019, so maybe it will save the Mac Pro for next year's WWDC. Apple's also said it will launch a new screen to go with the Mac Pro, so but again, we might have to wait another year to learn more.
A Chinese site - without much of a track record in this area, so take this with a pinch of salt - thought we'd get a new iPhone SE. That would have been a surprise but isn't completely unprecedented: the iPhones 3G, 3GS and 4 all debuted at WWDC keynotes.
There was also the expectation that Apple would 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.
It also seemed likely that we would finally see the AirPower wireless charging pad. Apple announced this product in September 2018 so it's beginning to look somewhat delayed. Read more about AirPower here.
We also heard rumours that Apple would 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 thought that Apple could reveal an update to the MacBook Pro, and maybe also a 2018 MacBook (which may or may not be the rumoured 13in model) 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 13in MacBook Pro and updates to the 15in and 17in 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: Apple has posted a list of such events on the Beyond WWDC page of its developer website.
This year Apple is flagging up the following events:
- AltConf 2018 - A free 'alternative' developer conference. There is one being held in San Jose and another being held in London (details here).
- Layers - A conference for design professionals.
- NextDoor - A technical conference.
- The Loop Bash - Hosted by Jim Dalrymple of The Loop.
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 and the tickets have all been assigned (each year a number of unclaimed tickets are resold after the lottery, but that chance has now passed).
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.
Prepare for next year and 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 still have to pay to attend WWDC. In 2018 it costs $1,599 (about £1,140), the same price as in 2017.