Swift And Pizza
Swift And Pizza

November 2020
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Apple conference at the time of Covid-19

Daniele BogoDaniele Bogo

As everyone knows this year the Apple WWDC 2020 won’t take place in San José due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead Apple announced a new online format of the famous Worldwide Developers Conference.

During these months people figured out that connecting people in a meeting from all around the world is finally a reality. Furthermore, working in a distributed environment is possible.

But even if I have been working for a distributed company for almost 2 years now, it’s not easy for me imagine the WWDC converted in a remote conference. Every developer who has joined this conference at least once knows that WWDC is more than just a week based on talks where new cool features are presented.

So what’s this new online format? How talk sessions, labs and 1:1 with engineers can happen remotely?

Online event: Supporting Accessibility in Your Apps

I’d like to say that all the Apple technical events I have been invited in the past were in-house or organized in a different locations. So for me this online event was a completely new experience. Specially if I consider that the topic is the same presented in more than one session during the WWDC 2019 (Apps for everyone).

Anyway, I’d like to think this was a test event for what possibly the new WWDC format (or at least a very small version) can be, and I want to analyze pros and cons of the following points:

Ticket

I would say that the email I received and the free slot pursuit, can be compared to the WWDC ticket booking and lottery. I have been lucky enough to be able to register for a spot, because many other developers had some problem in doing so since the Register Now link brought to a page with No events in this page written! But everything worked perfectly for me. I registered and got the confirmation email with the url for the live event.

Connection

If the registration went well the attempt to connect didn’t. At 9am I clicked the provided url but the server didn’t respond. I tried different times but nothing happened. And the situation lasted for 20 minutes till the server started to work and the page showed that the event was delayed by one hour.

Conference tool

To join the event I had to install Cisco Webex extension for Safari. I have to say the interface is not as good as Zoom or Google Hangout, but it worked. The screen was divided in 2 main columns. The bigger on the left with the session screen, and a smaller on the right with the list of participants with a small box at the bottom for chatting.

Session organization

The session worked as any usual Apple talk session, in which the host presented the topic, but with two new features: the Q&A session took place during the live session and the Apple engineers were present and ready to answer!

Labs and 1:1

I would say the Q&A covered by the Apple engineers during the live can be compared to a proper Lab session, with the possibility to book private 1:1 video sessions.
This is very cool because they were able to answer any question very quickly, providing good solutions or material to solve any problem.

On one hand I really liked this idea, on the other i found it distracting because it moved my attention from the live session to the Q&A thread.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely! Despite some inconvenience I found this format very interesting. The Q&A session continued even after the live talk and the guests interacted a lot with the Apple engineers.

If this was just a test, after this experience, I’m pretty sure that we can expect something unique from WWDC.

Feature image illustrations by Oksana Latysheva from the Noun Project

Mobile Wrangler aka iOS Software Engineer | Pizza lover

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