Apple scratches in-person WWDC, will sub with all-online con

Preview code for the next versions of macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS and tvOS will be made available to developers at the start of or during the online event.

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Apple late last week joined its operating system rivals when it announced that its annual developers conference would not take place in a physical you-are-there format.

The Cupertino, Calif. company said that the "current health situation" — it did not use "COVID-19" or "coronavirus" in its statement — "required that we create" a venue-less get-together.

"We [will] 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," wrote Phil Schiller, Apple's senior marketing executive, in the statement.

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will be held, as usual, in June. The firm did not reveal the dates, but in the past WWDC has taken place in the first week of the month. Last year, for instance, WWDC ran June 3-7. If it kept to that practice, Apple might conduct the virtual conference June 1-5, although the following week, June 8-12, might also be a possibility. The lack of a physical location, of course, will give Apple substantial scheduling latitude.

Preview code for the next versions of macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS and tvOS will be made available to developers at the start of or during the online event. Distribution of operating system betas concurrent with WWDC has long been an Apple practice.

More details about WWDC will be forthcoming, Apple said. Presumably, those will include pricing — even whether there will be a cost for the conference — and how Apple plans to replicate the third-party-developers-to-Apple-engineer interactions that WWDC has historically fostered.

Apple's March 13 announcement followed similar revelations from rival OS makers Google and Microsoft.

Early this month, Google scrapped its Google I/O developer event, which was to run May 12-14 in Mountain View, Calif. "Due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with health guidance from the CDC, WHO, and other health authorities, we have decided to cancel the physical Google I/O event," Google said in a March 3 online statement.

Unlike Apple, Google did not replace the real world event with one entirely online. It did hint at something along those lines, perhaps later, however. "Over the coming weeks, we will explore other ways to evolve Google I/O to best connect with our developer community," the firm added. Full refunds for the I/O registration fee were offered.

On March 12, Microsoft scratched its Build 2020 conference, saying it would instead offer something online to replace the May 19-21 Seattle confab.

"The safety of our community is top priority," Microsoft said in a message posted to the top of its Build registration site. "In light of global health concerns due to COVID-19 and related government actions in Washington State, we will deliver our annual Microsoft Build for developers as a digital experience, in lieu of an in-person event."

As Apple did a day later, Microsoft told developers more information would come. And like Google, Microsoft said it would issue full refunds.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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