Apple today announced its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) would this year be held entirely online, for the first time in the conference’s history. The new event will be streamed online, as all Apple’s events have been in the past, but this time there will be no live component to the show, which has been a staple for over 30 years.
This year’s WWDC will feature “a full program with an online keynote and sessions.” Apple also hinted we’d see news about the future of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS. Craig Federighi, Apple’s VP of software engineering, said the event would motivate developers previously used to in-person sessions to change up their thinking: “With all of the new products and technologies we’ve been working on, WWDC 2020 is going to be big… I look forward to our developers getting their hands on the new code and interacting in entirely new ways with the Apple engineers building the technologies and frameworks that will shape the future across all Apple platforms.”
According to Phil Schiller, Apple’s VP of global marketing, the move online was motivated by the same thing all event cancellations and delays are these days — namely, COVID-19, a.k.a. the coronavirus: “The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format…” Had it been cancelled or delayed over the coronavirus, WWDC would join the company of such events as MWC, SXSW, E3 and TNW’s own 2020 conference. However, it seems Apple’s not giving up on the chance to show off what it’s working on.
If the coronavirus outbreak continues at the pace it’s currently holding to, Apple probably not going to be the last company to hold an online-only version of its major event. Scuttlebutt has it that some of the events, such as the aforementioned E3, are also scrambling to find online alternatives so as not to completely derail scheduled product reveals. That said, Apple has also promised to donate $1 million to local organizations in the former hosting city of San Jose “to offset associated revenue loss as a result of WWDC 2020’s new online format.”
The WWDC 2020 online event will be held sometime in June, with the exact date yet to be announced.