My First WWDC experience

Wow, what a fantastic week.

I’ve never had the pleasure of attending Apple’s WWDC before, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to get so involved if it wasn’t for its virtual format this year.

My week started with the pre-WWDC trivia quiz on Saturday, two days before the keynote. This was my first time using Remo, an online platform for virtual meetups and conferences. Once I had chosen a team (go team Yosemite!), the other team members and I started chatting about our Apple experiences and what we were looking forward to in the week to come. This was the first time I had actually spoken to any others, and guess what? Nobody was as scary as the engineers who will shout at you on your StackOverflow question without actually providing any help. 🙃 Anyways we finished fifth, so my week was off to a good start.

Fast forward to Monday, also known as keynote day. This time I had registered to another get together for the WWDC Watch Party, which also happened to have events scheduled throughout the week. It was buzzing there with several hundred attendees, all excited for the keynote. We were able to chat in a chat window whilst simultaneously watching the keynote, speculating on what certain announcements would mean and getting all excited when the one feature somebody wanted would be announced (yay widgets!). Personally I was pleased with the format of the keynote; I was concerned that it would be a live stream with all the presenters presenting from home, or even worse - two hours of memojis talking - but thankfully that wasn’t the case.

Every day, Tuesday through Friday, Apple would release new pre-recorded sessions at 10am PST (6pm my time). Although this was late in the day for me, I was able to stay up late, taking in lots of information about the new features, best practices and anything else that were of interest to me. These were very high quality sessions presented by fantastic engineers, and the best part about them were that they were all at suitable lengths. Typically at a conference, you would be given a time slot, and you’d have to try and fill (or squeeze) your talk into that allotted time. Because of the video format, videos were as short as 5 minutes and as long as 45 minutes - whatever was needed to convey the appropriate information. I’m going to be writing a post in the coming days about my top five sessions, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

I mentioned previously about the events scheduled throughout the week by the WWDC Watch Party organisers. The hall was open for attendees to drop in and out as they wished, just to chat and socialise with each other. I found this particularly useful, as it meant we could talk about topics such as what we’ve been working on, whether the beta had bricked our main phones (the answer is not yet), and anything else that came into our minds. The people I got to talk to came from all over the world, from Canada to the USA, and Poland to Kazakhstan, with a massive variety of experience.

As a fairly socially-awkward person, who struggles to insert himself into other people’s conversations like one would typically do at a conference, this format suited me very well. It has definitely boosted my self-confidence, and it has always been my lack of self-confidence that has often held me back from networking with others and writing posts for the world to see, just like I’m doing now. I really do hope that Apple continues this format of conference to some degree once in-person events are safe again, as it will enable developers from all over to feel included, not just the 6000 lucky ticket recipients.

To round up, I just wanted to give a huge shoutout to all those at Apple who put together a memorable event under such unusual circumstances. It was my first WWDC, and certainly not my last. I’d also like to reserve a special shoutout to the organisers of the online community meetups, but especially Michie for putting together the amazing WWDC Watch Party event. Learning more about new features and tools that were announced by Apple was great, but I wouldn’t have gained the confidence nor the feeling of being a part of the iOS community had it not been for your events.

I also wanted to thank my employer Citrix for giving me the time to attend this conference - I look forward to presenting back my findings to everyone!

And finally, a shoutout to all those I chatted with for hours on end through the WWDC Watch Party, for being such great community members and being easy to talk to. I look forward to keeping in touch over Twitter as we play around with all the new Apple frameworks and features!