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Apple, Inc. opens up access to its WWDC developer utopia

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
For twenty five years, Apple has been holding its Worldwide Developer Conference as an annual resource for its third party software and hardware partners. This year, the company is trying something new: it has invited a select group of observers to share the WWDC experience with everyone else.

WWDC 2014 developers


The WWDC NDA



In previous years, the only portion of the conference exposed to anyone outside of Apple's registered developers--all bound to secrecy by a Non-Disclosure Agreement--has been the Monday Keynote Address.

During the WWDC Keynote, Apple's executives, lead engineers and a few third party partners present carefully scripted comments detailing what's new in upcoming OS releases and related technologies, such as when Steve Jobs unveiled iCloud in 2011 alongside iOS 5 and OS X Lion.

After the Monday Keynote, Apple always dismissed the invited members of the media before treating its developers to a more in-depth look at what it had in store during the WWDC State of the Union. That presentation, along with all of the remaining sessions, labs and other presentations (as well as all of the related developer preview software releases) have all been restricted to developers under NDA.

Until this year.

WWDC 2014 developers


Apple predictably surprises



Apple is changing. Of course, Apple has long been constantly changing, trying new things, breaking molds and "thinking different," often to the chagrin of certain members of the media trying to pigeonhole the company as being less dynamic and nimble than its younger peers in the industry.

As a mature and established company, the only thing more surprising about Apple's ability to surprise is the fact that everyone is always surprised that it still can pull off major surprises. As a mature and established company, the only thing more surprising about Apple's ability to surprise is the fact that everyone is always surprised that it still can pull off major surprises.

Back in 2009, observers seemed genuinely gobsmacked that Apple could outpace the hype set in motion by Palm's then-new webOS and its new Pre handset challenging the iPhone with a "multicore" chip.

It turned out that all the predictions that Apple would be left behind were wrong when Phil Schiller took the stage in the wake of Jobs' medical leave and debuted Apple's own new, and faster, multicore iPhone 3GS.

In 2010, Palm's hype was supplanted by Google's Android 2.0 and its Droid campaign targeting Apple as hopelessly behind, particularly in the realm of phone screen resolutions. Jobs returned to the stage to demonstrate the Retina Display of iPhone 4, while also introducing FaceTime software and a new gyroscope that nobody else in the industry had even considered adding to a smartphone.



In 2011, after the hype of Android Honeycomb tablets collapsed under their own weight, Jobs returned to again demonstrate solutions the rest of industry hadn't yet targeted, including the new iCloud. That was Jobs' last WWDC, but the company he left behind continued to deliver surprises in the pattern he had established.

In 2012, Tim Cook presented Retina Display MacBook Pros and new MacBook Airs alongside iOS 6. And last year, the company whose critics all complained of stagnant design unveiled a surprisingly bold new interface for iOS 7, centered on visual clarity, layered depth and a deference for content.

This year, critics again suggested that Apple was probably out of ideas apart from a couple new app features and a predictable iOS 7-like treatment for OS X. Unsurprisingly, they were all wrong again.

Developers at WWDC have repeatedly remarked that Apple delivered more surprises during WWDC 2014 than at any previous year, from an entirely new Swift programming language intended to enhance performance and ease of use; to substantial new opportunities afforded by iOS 8's App Extensions, Metal, HealthKit and HomeKit; to a vibrant overhaul of OS X Yosemite and a new set of Continuity features linking iOS and OS X.

Surprise: Apple is fresher than ever



One of the biggest surprises of WWDC 2014 is that Apple not only shared its Keynote publicly, but also invited observers to share the WWDC experience itself. To anyone aware of the nearly (or perhaps "clearly") paranoid level of security Apple has long sought to impose in order to protect the very secrecy of its surprises-in-gestation, this is nearly unfathomable.One of the biggest surprises of WWDC 2014 is that Apple not only shared its Keynote publicly, but also invited observers to share the WWDC experience itself

To be clear, Apple isn't dropping its "doubled down" security to convert its trademarked surprise-factory into an incremental iteration of minor changes in the model of Google's Android, where most development is relatively open and therefore rarely able to deliver any blockbuster advances with the ability to surprise anyone.

Instead, the company is cautiously working to allow more of its own story to be told. This is not the first time Apple has opened up in this fashion.

Over the past several years, Apple has greatly increased its transparency in matters including workers' rights and environmental protection, partly in an apparent response to the false portrayal of its international operations in phony (albeit Pulitzer Prize winning) slanted editorializing by disgruntled journalists at the New York Times and the equally misleading portrayals created by certain groups hoping to raise funds via distorted and inaccurate characterizations of its environmental conduct.

Inside WWDC



Perhaps the greatest surprise to the outside public who have never attended WWDC is that the value of the conference to developers is not principally the roughly 100 technical sessions presenting Apple's latest technologies in great detail. Instead, most of the developers at the conference have identified WWDC's hands on lab sessions as its most valuable aspect.

In the labs, developers can set up one-on-one sessions with the roughly 1,000 engineers Apple has dedicated to the event. Developers get code-level assistance in working through issues they've run into, insight into optimal development techniques and guidance in how they can make the most of iOS and OS X technologies in their apps.

WWDC 2014 developers


Apple hosts 120 different lab sessions during the week long conference, ranging from core services to user interface issues. That's more than the number of technical presentation sessions scheduled at WWDC.

Another reason why the hands-on labs are seen by developers as being a priority at WWDC is that Apple now makes the videos of its technical sessions available almost immediately, through either the WWDC app or iTunes. Registered developers can access the sessions at their convenience, even if they weren't able to attend the week's events.

WWDC 2014 developers


A related benefit of WWDC that a variety of developers have highlighted as a key benefit of attending the event is the community and connections afforded by meeting other developers in person. Apple's chief executive Tim Cook noted during the Keynote that a surprisingly high proportion (two-thirds) of WWDC attendees this year were new to the conference, and were attending from a wide variety of 69 different countries.

Apple is just about to kick off its WWDC Bash, a party it throws for attendees in the adjacent Yerba Buena Gardens park. This year, the event is headlined by a performance by English rock band Bastille. And tomorrow the 5,000 attendees will reconvene for another day of sessions, ending a week packed with new ideas, engineering advice for developers and feedback for Apple from its developers in the field.
post #2 of 18
Yup, great idea -- when the developers have been put into a lottery for every precious seat. I hope this is a one time experiment cause as a developer that wanted to attend but did not get to it pisses me off. Before anyone says it -- the videos are nice but far from actually being there at the session.
post #3 of 18
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post
…developers have been put into a lottery for every precious seat. I hope this is a one time experiment…

 

Remember what Tim said: roughly two thirds of the people at WWDC this year were attending for the first time.

 

It’s all well and good that the same richest firms can afford to scoop up tickets every year before the little guys can get to them, but the lottery made it possible for any developer of any size to go if they could afford it, and there’s something to be said for that. 

 

Apple was the little guy once.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #4 of 18
2013 WWDC was streamed live, so I don't think streaming it this year was significant. What is, is some of the NDA changes. I've seen some site post snippets of WWDC session videos. That would never have happened in previous years.
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

Yup, great idea -- when the developers have been put into a lottery for every precious seat. I hope this is a one time experiment cause as a developer that wanted to attend but did not get to it pisses me off. Before anyone says it -- the videos are nice but far from actually being there at the session.

There are not many "precious seats" at WWDC.

The main constraints are access to Apple engineers in labs, for whom the roughly ten media observers (out of 5000 attendees) are not competing for attention.
post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post
…developers have been put into a lottery for every precious seat. I hope this is a one time experiment…

 

Remember what Tim said: roughly two thirds of the people at WWDC this year were attending for the first time.

 

It’s all well and good that the same richest firms can afford to scoop up tickets every year before the little guys can get to them, but the lottery made it possible for any developer of any size to go if they could afford it, and there’s something to be said for that. 

 

Apple was the little guy once.

 

I think its great that a bunch of new folks are there. I for one do not work for one of those "rich" firms that scoop up tickets... I am self employees and when I go its all on me. Travel, meals, ground transportation, lodging, etc.

 

@Corrections: The value of the seats (i.e., tickets allowing admittance) is not in being able to see a talk. It is in the lab time with Engrs. The networking with others in the same or similar business.

 

Other than a larger venue I am not sure what the answer is -- but I hope someone can come up with a solution.

post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrections View Post
The main constraints are access to Apple engineers in labs, for whom the roughly ten media observers (out of 5000 attendees) are not competing for attention.

 

I was not aware the number of observers being only 10 -- do you have a link to that?

 

That 10 sounds small unless you are one that has not gotten a ticket this year, or last or the one before because of the ridiculous amount of time the sell out in. Just a thought but maybe they could rank your odds by how many times you have missed out on the lottery (of course that does not do any good for those of us that were too late the previous years). Idea being spread it around.

post #8 of 18

Daniel, I usually enjoy your writing and stories. I noticed a few early errors in this piece:

 

Quote:
Apple has long been constantly changing, trying new things, breaking molds and "thinking different,"

 

The famous tagline is 'think different', so really you should have said 'thinking differently'.

 

Quote:
observers seems genuinely gobsmacked

 

That should have been 'seemed'.

 

Peace. :)

post #9 of 18
Sorry Daniel but I struggled to find the point of this article other than it sounds like it's written by a WWDC virgin. I didn't see anything that details anything new. WWDC has not really changed and has always been what you described. Anyone with the money to buy the ticket can go to this. There's not some mind of members-only club. There used to be a huge "IT admin" contingent, a member of which I was. They were squeezed out several years ago to make more room for proper developers. "All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again."
post #10 of 18
Hopefully when Apples New Cupertino Campus opens, there will be a larger auditorium or multiple "smaller" auditoriums so more developers can attend.
post #11 of 18

I don't remember being able to view the WWDC videos unless I was logged into ADC but this year I can, https://developer.apple.com/videos/wwdc/2014/. I can view all the current and previous videos without being a developer. I understand being there is worth a lot but having the videos lets me watch everything that went on, replaying parts I needed to hear again. I wasn't presented with an NDA agreement so I'm looking at these presentations as being open to all.

post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by RS9 View Post

Hopefully when Apples New Cupertino Campus opens, there will be a larger auditorium or multiple "smaller" auditoriums so more developers can attend.

I would rather see more developer days in Cupertino and around the world than packing more people into one auditorium. Apple could rent the new Levi Stadium (49ers new home) and show the keynote on their 13,000 sq-ft Jumbotron before 68,500 developers but how are those developers supposed to have any one-on-one time with Apple engineers? Apple brought 1000 engineers to WWDC but Apple would need to empty out Cupertino to satisfy everyone's needs. How many developers (and people who wanted to be seen at an Apple event) would actually attend? 10K, 20K, more? I'm not sure the surrounding area could handle this many hotel stays even though the Bay Area has been the site for major sporting events (most just single day events not most of the week). Larger isn't always better, many times smaller events more often is what is needed.

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

Yup, great idea -- when the developers have been put into a lottery for every precious seat. I hope this is a one time experiment cause as a developer that wanted to attend but did not get to it pisses me off. Before anyone says it -- the videos are nice but far from actually being there at the session.

 

last year the tickets sold out in something like under a minute. how is that any more fair? id argue it's less.

post #14 of 18
Excellent coverage Daniel D. You must be excited for this new found access to Apple. I've seen evidence of it in your writing already. It's more in-depth and insightful and I think I speak for everyone out here, how much we appreciate it.

The notion that Apple is allowing "more of its own story to be told" is spot on. Apple can't be expected to defend themselves every time media criticism is created in a vacuum, and now with Apple's change in their WWDC NDA policy, it will impact Apple's critics' ability to "Swift-boat" Apple's business model.

Apple's invitation for all to see for themselves, is a remarkable change in policy and I'm hoping that translates into better commercial promotions for all Apple products.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
@ontheinside "I didn't see anything that details anything new." "There used to be a huge "IT admin" contingent, a member of which I was."

You popped your cherry as an "IT admin"? That's a tiny conclave of technicians compared to the six-thousand developers attending WWDC 21014!

 

Like the proverbial Maytag Repairman, you became irrelevant because you aren't being paid to be creative. You work in a Cost center that generates absolutely no revenue. I expected something more from an "IT Admin" about the nature of 2014's iOS/OS X in enterprise. Perhaps you've been drifting laterally in your career?

post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by NolaMacGuy View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

Yup, great idea -- when the developers have been put into a lottery for every precious seat. I hope this is a one time experiment cause as a developer that wanted to attend but did not get to it pisses me off. Before anyone says it -- the videos are nice but far from actually being there at the session.

 

last year the tickets sold out in something like under a minute. how is that any more fair? id argue it's less.

 

I guess you misunderstood my sarcasm -- I don't think it was fair at all.

 

I assume the lottery this year was an attempt at keeping companies/individuals from ordering 50 or more at a time (I actually do not know if that happened but it was implied that big blocks were sold). I think it was an attempt at reigning in the demand out stripping the supply. I don't have a simple solution, but I think it needs to be addressed. Its been over crowded and sold out.

 

A new venue is tough because I don't think there is anything else is large enough (in that proximity).

post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by RS9 View Post

Hopefully when Apples New Cupertino Campus opens, there will be a larger auditorium or multiple "smaller" auditoriums so more developers can attend.
I would rather see more developer days in Cupertino and around the world than packing more people into one auditorium. Apple could rent the new Levi Stadium (49ers new home) and show the keynote on their 13,000 sq-ft Jumbotron before 68,500 developers but how are those developers supposed to have any one-on-one time with Apple engineers? Apple brought 1000 engineers to WWDC but Apple would need to empty out Cupertino to satisfy everyone's needs. How many developers (and people who wanted to be seen at an Apple event) would actually attend? 10K, 20K, more? I'm not sure the surrounding area could handle this many hotel stays even though the Bay Area has been the site for major sporting events (most just single day events not most of the week). Larger isn't always better, many times smaller events more often is what is needed.

Maybe the solution would be to spread it out a little for those from America. Have another week with perhaps 200 engineers to cater for developers closer to home. You could still have American developers at the main week, but it would allow a bit more space for overseas developers in the first week. I suppose it would depend on whether Apple wanted to release 200 engineers for a second week, but perhaps most of them could be different engineers to the first week. Problem is, it might be seen as a second class week.
“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.”
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“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.”
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post #18 of 18

I think it's about time Apple gave their developers some respect. It's very welcome.

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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