WWDC 2020 to be all online

Apple announced yesterday that they will be having their World Wide Developer’s Conference, commonly referred to as WWDC, starting June 22nd and lasting the rest of the week.  Of course, with the quarantine restrictions in place and for people’s safety.  Apple announced that the entire conference will take place online.

This could mean a number of things, the most likely scenario being that the keynote video will play at the start on June 22 for everyone to see, then the actual developer classes and speeches will happen throughout the week either in videos locked to developers or in virtual conference calls.

Apple also announced they will be having a “Swift Student Challenge”, likely referring to the Swift programming language Apple developed and pushes for use on their iOS and Mac platforms.  This will probably be a bit like a Code Jam, where developers get together to code their own versions of a project or idea in a limited time frame.  In this case, students 13 and younger will have the opportunity to develop programs in Swift Playgrounds for iPad or Mac and build some interactive scenes.

Apple’s official statement is as follows.

On June 22, WWDC20 takes off. Get ready for the first global, all-online WWDC by downloading the Apple Developer app to stay notified on all the latest news, with updates for events and sessions. And there’s a lot more to come — starting with the first-ever Swift Student Challenge.

What are we likely to see?  While Apple hasn’t officially said what will be there, there are certain things we can safely expect, and others we can speculate.

We’re guaranteed to see updated version of iOS, MacOS, tvOS, and watchOS with their new features.  Updated Home and Siri capabilities are likely to be at the center of iOS given Apple’s push in that direction, along with updated privacy features and augmented reality.  watchOS will likely bring new features in the health tracking arena, tvOS more apps, services, and improvements to the TV app experience to work across more services.  What changes on Mac OS that we might see may include further security features and privacy enhancements, but not sure what else feature-wise.  Most of these will probably have beta releases released during or after WWDC so developers can begin playing with them and preparing their software.

Hardware is less likely at this event, but not unheard of.  Last year saw the unveiling of the revamped Mac Pro, and other WWDC’s have had other demos of hardware.  It’s possible we may see an updated iPad Pro with improved graphics and processing capabilities over the current generation.

There are some other interesting possibilities.  Rumors of a HomePod 2 and/or HomePod mini have been floating around as ways for Apple to expand it home smart speaker options to be more affordable.  While I do enjoy my HomePod, it is a distant third in use compared to Google Home or even the behemoth that is Amazon Alexa.  Part of this may be functionality, but also due to HomePod’s price:  The HomePod sits at $300 for the one model, while even Amazon’s own Echo Studio sits at just $200, with plenty of other models coming in at lower price points.  Cheaper models of the HomePod could help Apple break into the market.

There’s also some code in the latest tvOS updates to a new 4K model of the Apple TV.  Whether this is just a minor spec bump to the current Apple TV 4K or some bigger overhaul, if it does show up, we’ll just have to wait and see.

One last hardware possibility is the AirTag.  While these have been rumored at for a while, the latest news is stronger that these little devices will coming soon.  These AirTags are rumored to be competitors to the Tile line of trackers, little Bluetooth devices that you can stick in wallets, purses, car keys, etc. to find them if you forget where you placed them, or if they get lost they can locate them through a mesh network of other tracker devices of the same brand.  I think an increased guarantee of privacy would be great here, though if you talk about tracking something outside of Bluetooth’s range you’ll have to have a large enough population of users to use it.  We’ll have to wait and see how this pans out.

WWDC App:  https://apps.apple.com/us/app/apple-developer/id640199958

For now, those that are planning to “attend” WWDC can download the app to keep track of schedules and events as Apple makes them known.  And we’ll keep you posted here for what else comes out of WWDC.

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