Apple this morning announced that it will be returning to an all-virtual format for a second year. The company went online-only for the first time in 2020, as COVID-19 ground in-person events to a halt. While vaccine rollouts have begun in much of the world, the return of the in-person event industry still seems iffy for most of the rest of the year. The event will run June 7-11.
“We are working to make WWDC21 our biggest and best yet, and are excited to offer Apple developers new tools to support them as they create apps that change the way we live, work, and play,” Developer Relations VP Susan Prescott said in a release tied to the news.
The virtual format certainly has its advantages — accessibility being at the top of the list. Apple said last year’s was its “biggest ever,” and expects roughly 28 million developers from around the world at this one. In addition to not having to deal with traveling — not to mention the South Bay hotel crunch — the company offers up free access to the event for all qualified developers.
The event spans Apple’s different operating systems, bringing new versions of iOS/iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS. Last year also delivered the big, long-awaited arrival of Apple’s transition to first-party silicon for its Macs. Hardware news has otherwise been fairly hit or miss at the event, but after a bottleneck in H1 2020, the company could have some surprises on the way on that front.
Along with the big keynote and a week’s worth of developer-themed programming, the company hosts events like the Swift Student Challenge, a competition focused on young coders. Apple notes that it will also be using the opportunity to donate $1 million to SJ Aspires, an education initiative based in San Jose, where the in-person event has been held in recent years.