By Dan Moren
February 29, 2020 9:08 AM PT
The Back Page: Welcome to Virtual WWDC
Good morning, everyone. While we believe the current risk of exposure to the coronavirus remains low, we at Apple have decided to put the interest of public health and the safety of our developers and employees first. As a result, this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, instead of being held in San Jose at the McEnery Convention Center, will instead take place entirely in…the digital realm.
[pauses for oohs and aahs]
Welcome…to Virtual WWDC.
Naturally, our keynote, state of the union, and other presentations will be streamed live to all registered developers around the world. But that’s the easy part. We want to replicate the true WWDC experience as much as possible, and so we’ve developed a number of cutting edge systems and leveraged our immense supply chain to make that happen.
For example, though we are streaming the keynote, the session will also provide for limited interactivity. Your Mac, iOS device, and even Apple TV will be able to detect clapping, laughing, and “woo-ing”, which will then be piped to the rest of the audience, so you can feel like you are even there. (This feature does not support booing or scoffing.) We can even detect how many people are cheering at a specific announcement, providing the ever hilarious experience where one developer is particularly excited about an esoteric feature, John.
Many of you, we know, are worried about the ability to ask questions of our engineers in Labs. We understand this is one of the rare times that you’re able to get face-to-face time with the people who ignore your radars. So, when you enter a question into our virtual queue, we will dispatch a drone from the nearest Apple Store, bearing an iPhone on which you can converse with an Apple engineer. (Please make sure that your house contains at least twenty foot of clearance to admit the drone, and keep any children and pets out of its flight path. Apple is not responsible for any incidents that may occur should this advice not be followed.)
One of the biggest opportunities at WWDC is to meet and bond with fellow developers over lunch. Our boxed lunches are, of course, famous the world round, and we would not want you to miss out on them just because we’re not holding a physical event this year, and not because we made the mistake of already putting in a bulk order. As a result, we plan on delivering the very same lunches directly to your door-and, in order to emulate the taste perfectly, we will have them left on your doorstep for at least an hour or two beforehand in order to ripen.
Finally, let us address the real elephant in the room: the bar. For those who find the best part of WWDC is catching up with friends over a beverage, we’re happy to announce a new augmented reality experience that we’re calling “Apple Bar.” It consists of an iOS app that turns your living room, office, dining room, or any other space, into a virtual location where you can meet up with all of your friends who are also using the app. Just hold your iOS device and point the camera at a table, and you’ll see your virtual drinks laid out in front of you. Pan the device around, and you’ll see all of the avatars of your friends who are in the same virtual bar. Best of all, you can buy virtual drinks for your friends and it won’t cost you a dime!
Obviously, we know that a virtual WWDC isn’t ideal for everybody, and we’re sorry that it’s come to this. But our priority is the health and wellbeing of our community, and while virtual WWDC can’t take the place of spontaneously running into friends, meeting developers from around the world, and providing an opportunity to run your hands through Craig Federighi’s lustrous mane, we hope it will be an adequate substitute in these times.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @email@example.com or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]