Apple's 28th annual World Wide Developers Conference comes home.
Long before the halls of Moscone West or the stage at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, Apple's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) was held at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose. Now, some 16 years since it was last held there, WWDC 2017 returns to San Jose, and brings all of Apple's platforms with it — macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS.
I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, about the return and he sounded genuinely excited.
Not just the head of App Store, his organization also includes the World Wide Developers Relations (WWDR) and Evangelism teams. They're the ones who help make sure everything from the labs to the sessions provide real, lasting value for the thousands of developers and students who attend every year.
It was those developers and students that were top of mind for Schiller when we spoke, specifically how Apple could make WWDC more accessible for more people from more places with more and different experiences and points of view.
Technology alone is not enough. Technology must intersect with the liberal arts and the humanities, to create new ideas and experiences that push society forward. This summer we bring together thousands of brilliant minds representing many diverse perspectives, passions, and talents to help us change the world.
Apple in general is great at avoiding spoilers, so we'll have to wait and see exactly what kind of opportunities San Jose opens up for the company and for attendees, but it did sound like there were some interesting things in the works, things that involve the city itself as well as local businesses around the venue.
Here's what San Jose Mayor, Sam Liccardo, had to say:
We're ecstatic that Apple has chosen to host its WWDC 2017 in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley and site of the very first WWDC. We look forward to working with Apple to create a special experience for the thousands of attendees who will visit San Jose for this marquee event. And on behalf of our entire city, I'd like to extend a warm invitation to Apple developers, partners and enthusiasts from around the world to join us in Downtown San Jose as Apple unveils its latest innovations."
Moving WWDC back to San Jose obviously improves the logistics for Apple as well. With upwards of a thousand engineers attending the show, work at Apple essentially stops for a week so they can all spend time with the WWDC attendees in the sessions and labs.
There are countless more, from event planners to video editors, marketing and media relations, designers and program managers who not only have to be at the convention center but sometimes have to travel back and forth for meetings and more.
Keeping everything in South Bay removes some of that travel time and overhead and it makes things a little easier for attendees as well, who won't have to walk or catch a ride between the Bill Graham and Moscone this year.
What it won't change is capacity. Moving back to the McEnery Convention Center won't suddenly open up thousands of more places at the conference. The number Apple can handle this year will be roughly the same as last year.
Apple's solution to the ever-expanding developer community, and the growing demand for WWDC, is to keep improving the live stream and on-demand video. From no sessions to a few sessions to almost all sessions in three years flat, Apple and their video team have made WWDC an almost real-time event not just for the thousands in attendance but the millions back at home.
Likewise, the recordings that once took months to become available are now up by the end of the day. If and how Apple can scale labs beyond WWDC, including Tech Talk tours and on-sites, will be interesting to see.
What, if anything, this means for people who don't attend the show but just want to come out to see friends and join in the festivities remains to be seen. Also, how shows that have built up around WWDC, like Alt and Layers, will do in light of the venue change.
I've been to South Bay countless times now but I've never been there for a WWDC. The pre-iPhone era was before my time. I'll miss seeing San Francisco and Moscone, lining up for Blue Bottle coffee and figuring out just how late I can stay at Chieftain or House of Shields and not miss any early morning sessions the next day.
But I'm curious to try the coffee and find new places to talk the night away. See you in June!
When is WWDC 2017?
WWDC 2017 starts Monday, June 5 and runs through Friday, June 9.
When will tickets go on sale?
Developers can apply for WWDC 2017 tickets on Monday, March 27. While the event is moving, capacity isn't changing. So, like in previous years, applying for a ticket gets your name into the draw.
And it'll be in San Jose this year, you're sure?
Absolutely sure. It'll be held at the McEnery Convention Center, 150 West San Carlos, San Jose, CA.
That's in the same area as Apple's current Infinite Loop campus and only a few minutes away from the new Apple Campus 2.
Can San Jose support a modern, much-expanded WWDC?
McEnery Convention Center has everything from hotels to restaurants within walking distance. Apple is also working with the city and local businesses to make sure developers have an amazing week during the show.
Why is Apple moving WWDC 2017 back to San Jose?
I got the feeling that, given the logistics, especially with how many engineers are involved and for how long, that it was simply easier for everyone to bring WWDC back to South Bay.
Why is Apple announced WWDC 2017 so uncharacteristically early?
This is just a guess on my part, but given how early people start to prep for WWDC, especially for hotels, Apple understood that any significant move had to come with significant advanced notice.
Either way, I'm not going to look a gift head's up in the mouth. Traveling internationally these days can be incredibly stressful. The more time to prep, get paperwork done, and consider options, the better.
Anything special to look forward to at WWDC 2017?
The next generations of macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS are safe bets, as are a continued focus on diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility. Also, everything that goes beyond Apple's devices and makes it easier for us to interact with all the other products and services around us, including CarPlay, HealthKit, HomeKit, SiriKit, and more.
If you can't get to San Jose, will WWDC 2017 still be streamed?
More than ever. I think that's an area Apple really wants to keep up on, especially considering the convention center can only hold a tiny fraction of Apple's developer base.
In other words, keep your Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad WWDC apps ready.