WWDC 2013

Written on June 18, 2013 in Personal, Travel.
Adam Fortuna

Hey hey! I'm a developer who lives in Orlando, FL. Right now I work at Code School, listen to a lot of audiobooks, set way too many goals, write at minafi.com and tweet often.

In the Apple development world, there aren’t many public conferences. This is unlike the Ruby community which has local events throughout the country, with lots of international ones thrown in the mix. Apple, on the other hand, limits their exposure to a single week in June known as WWDC, Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, held in San Francisco.

In past years, we’ve seen the launch of devices by Steve Jobs like the iPhone and the iPad. Iconic moments like the reveal of the MacBook Air by pulling it out of a manilla envelope while popularizing the phrase “One more thing…”. The “Keynote” as this event is dubbed, is the only public event at WWDC, and kicks off an entire week of developer targetted talks. I was lucky enough to have Code School send me, Eric Allam and Jon Friskics out west this year to experience this amazing event.

Tickets

Even getting tickets to WWDC is a bit of a miracle. With only 5,000 tickets and something in the neighborhood of 3,000,000 Apple Developers, there’s a competition for tickets. In past years, Apple opened ticket sales at a random hour on a random day, and only at that time was the date for WWDC set. This year they did something different - they announced the date for the event a few days ahead of time, and gave the date and time tickets would go on sale.

Once tickets went on sale, the downside of this approach became obvious. Apple doesn’t make it public how many people tried to get tickets, but they did publicize the fact that tickets sold out in 71 seconds. The 3 of us at Code School were refreshing the ticket sales page when 1:00pm came around.

We were able to add the ticket to our cart, enter our credit card information, and submit it. All of us got a 500 error, indicating that something went wrong on the server side. When we refreshed the page, we saw a message indicating that tickets were sold out.

If you’re interested in the details, Eric wrote up an analysis of this record sellout .
Lucky for us, Apple gave us all a call individually 6 hours later, letting us know that a ticket was still reserved for us, and we still had a chance to buy it! 2 days later we had actual tickets!

If you know Portuegese, you can read more about this in an interview we gave: WWDC 2013: americanos contam perrengue para comprar ingressos do evento da Apple

San Francisco

I love San Francisco. In addition to having family and awesome friends in town, there is amazing food, interesting neighborhoods, and a wealth of variety.

Having enough appetites are always a problem when in SF.

Keynote

Having never been to a WWDC, we heard a variety of things about the Keynote. “It’ll be packed! If you want to get in, you shoule be in line by 6:00am.”. “There’s an overflow room, and if you get there late, you’ll have to watch it on screens there instead”.

With this fresh in our minds, we joined the keynote line that wrapped around Moscone Center at 5:45am Monday morning. Not surprisingly for an Apple event, the line had already formed at 4:00pm previous day when we stopped by to get our conference badges. By 7am people were heading inside the building, and able to at least get some coffee and food. At 9am they started letting people into the (very large) room.

Unlike what the rumors said, there was plenty of space for everyone. We were sitting next to someone who got up at 9am and walked in at 9:30.

Announcements

I’m not too enthusiastic about anything that was announced this year in the keynote. There’s interesting stuff announced elsewhere, and not to say things are bad, just nothing was in the “wow, that’s amazing, I can’t wait!” category. If I was pining for a Mac Pro I might have a different opinion, but I value mobility more than power.

The announcement that was most useful to me was the ability to have full screen applications on multiple monitors in OSX Mavericks, which I can say is actually pretty awesome. Other than that, here’s my rapid fire opinion on the rest of it:

OSX Mavericks

Lots of small and useful changes for the most part. Been using it a week now myself, and like it. It’s not going to change your entire world, but it’ll make things a little easier and better. In addition to better battery life, the fact that apps that are using a lot of power show up in the battery pulldown is one of the biggest changes. If an application I wrote showed up in that menu, I’d have a lot of incentive to fix it – or be shamed everytime someone saw it.

iOS 7

eh. It’s a beta. We’ll see what happens. Design wise though, I’m hoping things change. I put the beta on my phone the Monday it was released, and despite a few surprises, it’s been a stable release. The occasional app isn’t compatible with it now, but that’s to be expected. Control Center is very useful. The multitasking interface used to switch and close apps is a good improvement. The new tab view in safari is painful to use. iTunes Radio will guarentee I don’t renew my Pandora subscription. Game controllers sound awesome, I’m looking forward to see what people come up with for that. Some of the location awareness features are also intriguing.

Hardware

The new MacBook Air isn’t much different. I understand why it’s not retina - so it can continue to be their baseline notebook. It also guarentees I won’t get one. The Mac Pro is not for me, but still an impressive machine. Curious to see what affect it has on the high end design world.

Favorite Sessions

One of the nice parts of the Apple Developer program (which costs $99/year), is that they record all of the talks given each year and make them available on the Developer Session Videos page.

Apple makes it very clear that things discussed in these talks, and in every session outside of the keynote, is off limits for public discussion. Before every talk they announce this, and also mention that no pictures or recording is allowed – not to mention posters throughout the convention center mentioning this fact. In other words - if you want to see what’s launching beyond what is mentioned in the keynote, you need to join the Apple Developer Program.

The session videos were available the very next day after they were presented. Considering they had about 25 videos posted each day, that’s impressive. What happens at WWDC apparently has to stay at WWDC, but if you’re a developer, you should watch the following videos:

  • Platforms State of the Union

  • Exploring Scroll Views on iOS 7

  • Getting Started with UIKit Dynamics

  • Hidden Gems in Cocoa and Cocoa Touch

  • Designing Games with Sprite Kit

  • Advances in Objective-C

In addition to being able to download and watch these on your computer, Apple released an iPhone/iPad application that allows you to stream these talks straight to your device.

Takeaways

After going to primarily Ruby conferences for the past few years, this one had a very different feel. The biggest difference to me is the open vs closed source aspect. At Ruby conferences, most talks are about things people have built, or problems they have solved – perhaps mentioning some open source tools they used to accomplish their task. WWDC is more about letting the (registered developer) public see what Apple is providing.

Being able to hear about these coming features in person and be inspired by the energy of the event left me much more enthusiastic about developing than just watching the videos at home like last year.

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