What do we expect from WWDC 2020? (Updated)

Apple’s online Worldwide Developers Conference begins in 14 days. What can you expect from the show?

Apple, WWDC, iOS, macOS, Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPad OS, developers

Apple’s socially distanced WWDC event begins online in 14 days. Are you ready to take part and what can you expect from the show?

What has Apple told us so far?

Apple has promised a big event, and while the format will be very different from any previous show, the information emerging from it will set the scene for the next 12 months of the company’s platforms. It should be of interest to any of the many enterprises now deploying or considering deployment of Apple hardware.

Apple has promised to share “all the new tools” the company has been working on to help them build apps and services. The company has also committed to sharing more details concerning the event in advance of the show, so watch this space.

“WWDC20 will be our biggest yet, bringing together our global developer community of more than 23 million in an unprecedented way for a week in June to learn about the future of Apple platforms,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. 

Update: An Apple announcement June 11 shared much more information. The event will include a keynote address, the traditional Platforms State of the Union event, 100+ engineering sessions, all-new Developer Forums, 1-on-1 labs with more than 1,000 Apple engineers, and more.

How to take part

WWDC 2020 begins June 22 and will be hosted in the Apple Developer app and via the Apple Developer website. The keynote will also be made available via apple.com, the Apple TV app, and YouTube, and through the Apple TV events app. Apple is pushing student developers forward hard, announcing its “first-ever” Swift Student Challenge. The Apple Developer Program costs $99/year to join.

Some highlights may also be made available for access on Apple’s YouTube feed

What format will the show take?

The company is attempting to maintain social distancing, so it is likely at least some parts of what we see at WWDC this year will be captured at people’s homes.

However, perhaps wrongly, some nations in recent weeks have begun to loosen lockdown restrictions. And while a week is a long time in a pandemic, it’s possible some elements of the show will seem more conventional, though without the crowds.

WWDC usually takes the form of a keynote and State of the Union address, along with numerous sessions that are filmed and made available on the developer site. 

There will be 100 technical and design-focused sessions helmed by Apple engineers. Videos will be posted each day at 10 a.m. PDT via the developer site and app.

All-New Apple Developer Forums

Redesign coming June 18

The Apple Developer Forums will connect the developer community with more than 1,000 Apple engineers to answer questions and engage in technical discussions.

Starting the first day of WWDC, anyone can search and view the forum discussions to follow along, and Apple Developer Program members will be able to post their own questions and learn directly from Apple experts.

1-on-1 Developer Labs (by appointment)

June 23 to 26

Developers will be able to request an appointment with the Apple engineers who helped build the latest advances in Apple platforms, offering one-on-one technical guidance and in-depth details on how to implement new features. Developer Labs will be open to Apple Developer Program members as space is available.

What kind of response will it get?

All the same, the focus on a purely online event means more people are likely to tune into the show than ever before – and also means most developers will enjoy equal access to the event.

Apple has more than 23 million registered developers spread across over 155 countries and regions. Apple also has tens of millions of customers, partners and suppliers and a deep footprint in the enterprise. With these kinds of numbers, it’s possible broadband providers will need to prepare for a spike in demand for the opening keynote stream.

What about the software betas?

Apple traditionally releases early developer beta versions of new software upgrades at WWDC. We don’t know yet if the restrictions on gatherings have delayed development, but it seems certain Apple will want to put its forthcoming releases through robust testing, so a WWDC testing schedule seems likely.

What should we expect?

Apple always discusses its work on its platforms at WWDC. It wants to convince developers to build with these new platforms, after all.

That means:

  • iOS 14, with more on what to expect here.
  • iPad OS 14, which will include more advanced cursor support.
  • watchOS 7, with new watch face and health features and sleep tracking.
  • tvOS, with better HomeKit and HomePod integration – new box?
  • macOS 16, a new iMessage app and potential news of the long speculated upon move to Apple’s A-series processors for the platform.

Apple may also introduce us to its revamped and private Find My system, including the potential introduction of Apple Tags, small tracking devices for your things.

Among other highlights, Apple will likely share lots more information concerning its plans for Catalyst and the future of the iPad and the Mac. It may also discuss some of its work with password manager developers as it seeks to improve them.

Enterprise users will be eager to learn about the company’s plans for Mac. Will a purported move to A-series processors lower hardware costs or generate additional deployment or integration challenges, particularly on mixed-platform networks?

Apple is expected to introduce its first 5G devices this year, so it seems likely at least some discussion of this support will emerge at the developer event.

Apple to announce move to ARM chips in Mac

Updated: A new report claims Apple will announce plans to migrate the Mac to use its own A-series, ARM-based processors developed for iPhones and iPads at the event. 

What else should we expect?

Two things traditionally happen in the run-up to WWDC:

  1. Apple begins to share details concerning what to expect, as it has suggested it will this year.
  2. It frequently provides smaller news updates in the days before the show. For example, it introduced the 8-core MacBook Pro, new iPod touch and Apple News+ just before WWDC 2019 and introduced stereo pairing for HomePod in 2018.

Will the company seek to excite interest in advance of this year’s show? We’ll find out over the next few days.

When does WWDC 2020 begin?

Apple's WWDC usually opens up for business at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET. The event begins on June 22.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon