By Jason Snell
June 30, 2017 5:35 PM PT
Since you last heard from us, we went to San Jose for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. It was a good time. Almost everyone I know professionally was there, making it feel a bit like a high-school reunion. The weather was warm (in contrast to San Francisco), and while I had to get a hotel room for a couple of nights because San Jose is so much farther away from my home than San Francisco is, that meant I spent even more time in town, which meant it was a better event. I hope Apple keeps WWDC in San Jose for years to come.
It really is a strange feeling to wander around several square blocks and constantly hear voices you usually only hear on podcasts, or see faces you’ve come to know from Twitter avatars. And as a writer and podcaster, I’m high profile enough that people recognize me, which is just bananas. A guy got out of a car while I was walking down a street and shouted my name and got a selfie with me, which has never happened before in my life and will never happen again. Dan Moren and David Sparks were with me, which made me mortified but also gave me witnesses. Later on the same walk, someone approached David to talk about how much he loved Mac Power Users, and at least one other time I saw Dan get approached, too. It’s that kind of place. Turn around and you will bump into someone you worked with, know, or hear on a podcast.
What I’m saying is, if you haven’t ever gone to a WWDC—and why would you, if you’re not a developer?—you might actually want to put it on your “I’d like to do this sometime” list. WWDC week has transformed into what Macworld Expo was many years ago—the single event where everyone who is involved with Apple stuff—Apple employees, media, you name it—is in one place for an extended period of time. It’s the Apple equivalent of San Diego Comic-Con… but you don’t need a ticket to the big show to experience it. Other conferences—AltConf and Layers—run alongside WWDC, and I would be shocked if others don’t spring up in the years to come. As a social occasion for our community, it really can’t be beat.
If you can’t go, at least there’s good news on that front: Increasingly, the must-see events of WWDC week are available, sometimes live, sometimes on demand within hours of them happening. Some WWDC sessions are livestreamed and they’re almost all available for playback after the fact. John Gruber’s The Talk Show interview with Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi is up in both audio and video form, and the audio of the event streamed live. Accidental Tech Podcast streamed live. My podcast with Myke Hurley, Upgrade, streamed live. And of course, a zillion podcasts were posted in the ensuing hours and days of the event. Apple even set up a podcast booth for developers to record podcasts on site.
Coming out of the week, there were really two big stories. First, the new hardware—most immediately, the new iPad Pros, which were released the following week. I’m writing this story in my backyard on the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro. This thing is great… and it will be even greater once iOS 11 arrives, since it offers dramatically improved multitasking features for iPads. The iOS 11 story, as well as the macOS High Sierra story, are the other big thing. New operating systems take all summer to coalesce, as we learn new tidbits about how they work and work on extended projects to cover all the new features. That work started last week, and continues through September.
It’s how I spend my kids’ summer vacation every year, more or less. I’ve been writing about Apple operating systems from under the same redwood tree I’m sitting under right now since my review of OS X 10.1 for Macworld. The big difference is, this year I’m writing on an iPad Pro, not a Mac.