The annual Worldwide Developers Conference is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year, where Apple unveils the next-gen versions of the operating systems that power its various devices. WWDC is the place where Apple showcases its newest innovations for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Watch, and TV, although it’s iOS (and iPadOS) that gets the most attention from developers and fans.
Apple on Tuesday announced that WWDC21 will take place from June 7th through June 11th. But for the second year in a row, the developers conference will be an online-only event, as the coronavirus pandemic isn’t in a place where massive in-person events like WWDC can be hosted safely.
As WWDC21 will be a virtual event, Apple waived the usual fee that developers have to pay to attend. All sessions will be available free of charge, including the main keynote address that will be streamed online, as usual. The main event will likely be hosted on June 7th, the first day of the conference.
Apple said in the announcement that last year’s virtual WWDC had “record-breaking participation,” and WWDC21 will further build on that success.
Apple says that WWDC21 will cater to a developer community that counts more than 28 million members worldwide.
The company also said that its Swift Student Challenge, which encourages young developers to code a Swift playground, is accepting submissions. Young coders will have to create a playground that can be experienced within three minutes. Swift Playgrounds is an iPhone and Mac app that teaches developers how to code in Apple’s Swift language in a game-like playground.
In the announcement, Apple also said it’s committing $1 million to SK Aspires, an education and equity initiative launched by the City of San José, even though WWDC21 will take place online. This is part of Apple’s previously announced $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.
iOS 15 and macOS 12 are the most anticipated software announcements from this year’s keynote event. References to both operating systems have already been discovered in Apple code. If iOS 15 is practically a given, macOS 12 is somewhat of a surprise, considering that Apple moved to iOS 11 only last year. The first software betas will be released after WWDC21, with iOS 15 easily being the most anticipated beta release of all of Apple’s software updates.
Also interesting is the teaser image that Apple used for the WWDC21 announcement, which features a MacBook scene that echoes a moment from last year’s Apple M1 presentation. There’s no Craig Federighi this time around (see that video below). Instead, we get an animoji character looking at the screen, with familiar app icons reflecting in the glass lenses, cleverly teasing the event’s date. Could Apple also be teasing its first AR/VR headset? We might be reading too much into the whole thing, but the glasses do feature some strange reflections. Not to mention there’s an increasing number of reports out there, detailing Apple’s purported AR and VR plans for the near future.