Despite the increasing availability of effective vaccines, the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, so it’s no surprise that Apple is again taking this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference virtual from 7 June to 11 June 2021. Expect announcements about iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS 12, watchOS 8, tvOS 15, and perhaps that always anticipated “One more thing.”
While other tech giants struggled with virtual events last year, Apple’s first virtual WWDC was a hit. The pre-recorded operating system announcements were fun and extremely polished, and every Apple developer got the full benefit of the event rather than only a few who won lottery tickets to attend in person. We’re certain Apple will eventually hold an in-person event again in some form, but we also expect that many virtual elements of WWDC are here to stay. Not to downplay the massive negative impacts of the pandemic, but this is one of those situations where being forced to adjust resulted in a better overall outcome.
While everyone looks forward to seeing what features Apple unveils in the keynote, developers will appreciate the State of the Union address, online sessions covering new technologies in depth, and one-on-one sessions with Apple engineers to ask questions and get help with their projects.
Apple will have yet another Swift Student Challenge this year, in which students are encouraged to create interactive scenes with Swift Playgrounds that take 3 minutes or less to play through. Students have until 18 April 2021 to submit their entries. Winners will receive a pin set and “exclusive outerwear.”
To help make up for the loss of the economic benefits an event brings to the area, Apple will donate $1 million to SJ Aspires, “an education and equity initiative launched by the City of San José.”
The adjoining AltConf event is also back in a new form. The organizers took a pause last year due to the pandemic, but they’ll be hosting online community discussions around WWDC, including the audio-only rooms they experimented with last year.