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Apple has officially announced that its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will take place this year from Monday, June 5 to Friday, June 9.
The dates aren’t a huge surprise; with only one exception prompted by the first year of COVID-19 lockdowns, Apple has kicked off every WWDC conference since 2016 on the first Monday of June each year. Conferences in earlier years sometimes drifted into the second week of June. Still, except for Apple’s first all-virtual WWDC in 2020, the company has not held a later WWDC since 2006 — the only time in its 39-year history the event has been held in August.
However, this year’s WWDC announcement tacitly confirms that Apple will be sticking with the new format developed in the aftermath of the global health pandemic. In 2020, Apple was forced to move WWDC to an “all-new online format” or risk canceling the event altogether. That continued with WWDC 2021 when Apple hinted that it might continue this approach even after we had moved beyond the era of social distancing and lockdowns.
The global health pandemic forced Apple and many other companies to change their approaches as they adapted to the “new normal.” Among the lessons learned in the process was that large in-person events weren’t as important as they had once seemed.
Apple’s first virtual WWDC in 2020 opened up the floodgates to allow more than four million developers to attend — a substantially higher number than the 5,000 developers who had attended the in-person event each year.
Further, even though in-person tickets cost $1,599 each, there was so much demand for them that Apple ran a lottery each year to allocate seats as fairly as possible. By comparison, since a virtual event provides room for an effectively unlimited number of attendees with no incremental costs, Apple was able to offer the entire conference to its entire community of 30 million registered developers at no charge.
Apple stuck with this approach when last year’s WWDC rolled around, adding a special in-person event at Apple Park where a select few could gather to watch the keynote and State of the Union. However, this was still presented on a large video screen rather than any executives appearing live on stage. Since we weren’t entirely out of the woods on the pandemic yet, it wasn’t clear at the time if Apple was merely being cautious or if this represented the future of WWDC.
However, with this year’s announcement, the company has made it clear that it’s following the same model, right down to the special in-person event at Apple Park.
WWDC is one of our favorite times of the year at Apple because it’s an opportunity to connect with the talented developers from around the globe who make this community so extraordinary. WWDC23 is going to be our biggest and most exciting yet, and we can’t wait to see many of you online and in person at this very special event!Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations
How to Attend the Special Event in Person
Like last year, Apple is opening up Apple Park for limited in-person attendance, with an expanded “special all-day experience” this year that includes not just the viewing of the keynote and State of the Union videos but also a meet-and-greet with some of the teams at Apple and attendance at the Apple Design Awards ceremony.
Those interested in attending this special event will naturally have to travel to Cupertino at their own expense, but admission is otherwise free to those fortunate enough to get an invitation.
Only current members of one of Apple’s Developer Programs, alumni of Apple’s Entrepreneur Camp, and recent winners of the Swift Student Challenge will be eligible to receive invitations. Anybody who fits into one of these categories and wants to attend can make a request at Apple’s Special Event at Apple Park page between now and April 4. Apple will then run a “random selection process” to determine who gets an invitation from among those requests.
What to Expect at the WWDC 2023 Keynote
Whether at Apple Park or in your living room, everyone will be watching the same WWDC keynote, which could include some pretty exciting things this year.
It’s a given that we’ll see Apple unveil the next versions of its operating system lineup, including iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, tvOS 17, and macOS 14 (with a name that’s yet to be revealed). There haven’t been too many rumors circulating yet about what we’ll see in any of those updates; a recent report revealed iOS 17 will be more than a tune-up release, but it may still lack the exciting tentpole features we’ve seen in other recent major iOS updates.
One of the reasons for this may be that Apple’s development teams have been busy with more exciting things. Multiple reports point to Apple showing off its mythic AR/VR mixed-reality headset at WWDC, which would be powered by a new “realityOS” operating system.
Before you get your hopes up, though, there’s every indication the actual headset won’t be coming for at least another 6–12 months. However, WWDC is an ideal time to announce it and show it off, as Apple needs to get developers on board and excited about it so they can have a rich app ecosystem ready for the headset when it finally does launch.
In fact, some reports suggested that Apple wanted to preview the new realityOS at least year’s WWDC but was reluctant to do so until it had an actual hardware product to go with it. That makes sense, as it’s hard for developers to conceptualize how to build apps for a device that doesn’t yet exist.
Even now, that could be a challenge if Apple has nothing ready to ship. However, the company may be able to offer developers some kind of testing hardware through a special program, similar to what it did during the first stage of its Apple Silicon transition after WWDC 2020. Months before anybody outside of Apple had even heard of the M1 chip, developers could lease special Mac minis with an iPad Pro-class A12Z chip inside to build and test apps for Apple Silicon.
While the Apple headset would easily be the marquee hardware unveiling at this year’s WWDC, the keynote could include the announcement of Apple’s M3 chip, likely arriving in an updated 13-inch MacBook Air that may even be accompanied by a 15-inch version. Like last year’s M2 MacBooks, such an announcement would mostly be about Apple’s next-generation silicon, making WWDC an appropriate venue.