Apple confirms WWDC 2021 will be an online event

Apple has announced that WWDC 2021 will be an all-online event once again, following the success of the format last year.

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Apple has confirmed what we all expected: WWDC 2021 will be an all-online event once again — a tacit acknowledgement of  the success of the format last year.

Another virtual WWDC

WWDC 2021 will run between June 7-11, be free to developers, and will “build on the record-breaking participation and learnings from last year’s online conference,” the company said in a statement.

The event is open to Apple’s global community of 28 million developers. The show will feature the annual keynote and State of the Union announcements, online sessions, and 1:1 labs for technical guidance. Intriguingly, Apple also promises: “New ways for developers to interact with Apple engineers and designers to learn about the latest frameworks and technologies.

What Apple said

“We love bringing our developers together each year at WWDC to learn about our latest technologies and to connect them with Apple engineers,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations and Enterprise and Education Marketing. “We are working to make WWDC21 our biggest and best yet, and are excited to offer Apple developers new tools to support them as they create apps that change the way we live, work, and play.” 

The company plans to share more information pertaining to the giant developer event later, via the Apple Developer app, on the Apple Developer website, and by email.

Why the event must be online

It was inevitable, really. COVID-19 continues to blight lives and one year later we know more about the threat it represents. Not only does the disease mutate, but vaccination rollout is neither complete, nor fully international.

This is true to such an extent that it makes no sense to combine an international collection of Apple’s most important supporters, partners, and followers in a public space. I think we’ll see the potential damage of such mixing at MWC 2021, which still appears likely to take place.

The decision also matches Apple’s outlook. The company does not expect to mandate a return to work until June at the earliest.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has stressed how pleased he's been with what his employees have achieved. The company has also pushed hard to play its part in the struggle against the pandemic — it has invested way too much cash and energy in this to undermine that good work with a premature attempt at returning to normal.

The company certainly won’t want to squeeze thousands of its most important personnel, staff, and partners into long-distance flights, exposing all parties to risk.

These considerations will have formed part of the company’s thinking on the matter. The fact that it achieved such a successful event in 2020 shows that it is possible to yield a good outcome from a bad situation. It may, however, prove interesting to find out just what Apple has developed in terms of new virtual experiences for collaboration during the event.

Swift Student Challenge

Apple is once again giving students who code a chance to take part in the Swift Student Challenge. This year’s challenge has an interactive edge. It is to create an interactive scene in Swift Playground that can be experienced inside three minutes. Students have until April 18 to submit their work and winners will receive exclusive WWDC21 outerwear and a pin set.

Supporting the region

With thousands of visitors every year, WWDC usually brings a lot of money to local businesses in San Jose and beyond. In a gesture of solidarity, Apple is contributing $1 million to SJ Aspires, an education and equity initiative from the City of San Jose. The scheme aims to enable youth from underserved neighbourhoods to access a college education.

Probables, possibles, and potentials

There are probable, possible, and potential announcements likely at WWDC.

Primarily, Apple will discuss its platforms and software, which will be evidenced in first glances st new iterations of its operating systems. Those are the probables.

Apple’s big hint of possible — new interactive tools — suggests much more exploration around platforms and solutions for collaboration in virtual space. That’s not an especially new focus for the AR-invested company, but does show how much more relevant to daily lives such technology is becoming.

Apple will almost certainly want to discuss the Apple Silicon Mac transition, which makes some form of Mac announcement possible.

All of these possibles also open the door to potential news, almost certainly around AR development — though all recent speculation suggests introduction of v.1 Apple AR glasses won’t take place until 2022.

Perhaps Apple has some other surprises up its sleeve?

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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