Following intense speculation that it would be forced to cancel WWDC, Apple has now confirmed that it will instead hold the yearly developer event online in what it calls an all-new format.
That’s a positive way of framing what must have been a difficult decision to make. WWDC’s opening keynote speech is arguably the second most high-profile moment of Apple’s year, with millions watching around the world, and the week of workshops and networking sessions that follows allows the company to encourage, train and nurture relationships with its smaller software partners.
WWDC will still be big news and receive acres of coverage from the specialist press such as Macworld; it may now receive slightly fewer acres in a mainstream news media that won’t be able to have journalists on the ground. And as shallow as it is to say - particularly given the reason for this switch - Apple does love a whooping audience when announcing things. The atmosphere is (quite rightly) going to be very different this year.
As for the workshops, which tend to be forgotten in WWDC coverage but which are vital to the app developer community, those will be far harder to replicate online, but Apple believes it has the solutions in place.
“We are delivering WWDC 2020 this June in an innovative way to millions of developers around the world, bringing the entire developer community together with a new experience,” said marketing boss Phil Schiller in a company statement.
“The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world."
Pleasingly, Apple has committed $1m to local organisations who would have otherwise seen an uptick in business from international developers and reporters covering the event.
WWDC will take place in June, as in previous years, but Apple has not yet announced dates. For discussion of what will be announced, read What to expect at WWDC 2020.