For the last three years, Apple has hosted its Worldwide Developers Conference at the San Jose Convention Center, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, WWDC 2020 is now an online-only event. So what can you expect from the new virtual format and when and how can you watch the keynote and developer sessions?
The novel coronavirus may have shut down Apple's in-person event, but the show must go on. There won't be thousands of developers packed into a convention center, but there will be millions around the globe tuning in and learning everything that they'll have to work with in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. And while the engineering sessions are for developers only, the keynote can be watched by everyone.
Last year's WWDC introduced us to iOS 13 for iPhone, which added dark mode, an updated Mail app, and swipe typing, among many other features. It also showed off macOS Catalina 10.15, watchOS 6, tvOS 13, and iPadOS 13, as well as the Mac Pro (3rd generation) and Pro Display XDR.
For many of us, the highlight of WWDC 2020 will be the unveiling of iOS 14 (and iPadOS 14), rumored to come with huge iMessage updates, new customization options, and a new Fitness app, among many other features. But Apple will also be showing off watchOS 7, tvOS 14, and macOS 10.16.
As for hardware, Apple may unveil, or at least tease, its upcoming Bluetooth-based AirTags product, similar to Tile trackers. Also, we might see Apple's new over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones, which we saw a hint of in iOS 14's code, that will likely be high-end Beats and not AirPods. And while Apple notoriously canceled its AirPower charging mat over a year ago, it may be working on a "smaller wireless charging mat," according to Ming-Chi Kuo, which may be touched on in the keynote.
Apple first announced that WWDC 2020 would move to an all-virtual format on March 13, slated for June, the month in which the conference has taken place in 16 of the last 17 years' worth of events. On May 5, it announced June 22 as the official date of the internet-only developers special.
June 22 marks the first day of a normally five-day conference, filled with virtual events and contests. To the general public, it means one fantastic livestream of the keynote, where we get to see Apple show off its upcoming software.
The livestream of the keynote presentation is set to begin at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT) on June 22, which is the traditional time that kicks off the entire week-long conference. Apple confirmed that time on June 11. As far as watching it, things are similar to last year's event, with some added convenience.
- Keynote: June 22, 2020, at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT)
While Apple has yet to unveil official requirements for livestreaming WWDC 2020's keynote presentation, it's likely to be the same as the past few years. However, there is a bonus way to watch that opens up the keynote to everyone, no matter what device they are using.
- Any device that can view YouTube livestream videos
That's right. While Apple has traditionally posted WWDC keynotes on YouTube after the event, it hasn't yet livestreamed it on the platform. So, all of the following options will seem somewhat antiquated.
Apple likely added YouTube to the list of livestreaming options to help lighten the strain on its usual platforms since everybody will be streaming the event, not just those who couldn't make the conference. Given that it's the first YouTube livestream for the event, you may be better off watching it from one of the more traditional routes, which have proved reliable. Any of the options below will work.
- iPad, iPhone, iPod touch using the Apple TV app on iOS 12.3 or later
- iPad, iPhone, iPod touch using the Apple Developer app (previously called the WWDC app) on iOS 12.0 or later
- iPad, iPhone, iPod touch using Safari on iOS 10 or later
- Mac using Safari on macOS Sierra 10.12 or later
- Select Samsung, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and LG televisions and media players using the Apple TV app (helpful links: Samsung; Roku; Amazon; LG)
- PC using Microsoft Edge on Windows 10
- Apple TV (fourth/fifth gen) using the updated Apple Events app or Apple Developer app (previously called the WWDC app)
- Apple TV (second/third gen) from the Apple Events channel
- Any smartphone (including Android) or computer with a web browser that supports MSE (Media Service Extensions)
For that last one, you can watch live events in recent versions of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, so long as those versions support MSE (Media Service Extensions), in addition to H.264 (video) and AAC (audio). If you prefer to use another browser, it should work just fine so long as it meets those qualifications, even if you're rocking an Amazon Fire tablet. If you have an Android device, try the Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox app.
You can also AirPlay the event to an Apple TV (2nd generation or later) or AirPlay-compatible smart TV. You'll just need the latest tvOS version, if using an Apple TV, as well as the most recent version of iOS or macOS, depending on where you're AirPlaying from.
YouTube is definitely the easiest way to watch Apple's WWDC 2020 keynote presentation. The service works on practically all devices, from computers to smartphones to smart TVs, so it's the no-fuss way to go. You can even watch it right from here once we embed it. If you have an Android or iOS device, you can install the YouTube from the Play Store (or Amazon App Store) or App Store, respectively.
- YouTube livestream link (coming soon)
Another great way to watch is via the Apple TV app on select smart TVs and streaming media devices, as listed above. Just open up the app, find the "Special Event Keynote," select it, and wait for things to start.
If you're trying to watch a live Apple event on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV, the Apple Developer, Apple Events, and Apple TV apps are your best bet since YouTube livestreams can be buggy sometimes. If you're on a Mac or PC, or if you'd prefer not to download those apps, use one of the links below to watch the stream in Safari or another compatible browser.
If you're a developer, many of the above requirements and ways apply for all the sessions and contests beyond the keynote. The Apple Developer app for iOS and iPadOS is one way, and the other is to go to Apple's developer website at:
Best of all, it's all free (granted that you have a Developers account). Apple typically charges around $1,600 per ticket to attend WWDC in San Jose in person, but with the internet-only event, it's free for all. On June 11, Apple outline the basic schedule of events as:
- Swift Student Challenge Finalists: June 16
- Special Event Keynote: Live on June 22, 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT)
- Platforms State of the Union: On-demand starting June 22, 2 p.m. PDT (5 p.m. EDT)
- 100+ Engineering Sessions: On-demand on June 23 to 26, posted at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT) daily
- 1-on-1 Developer Labs (by appointment): June 23 to 26
Keep Your Connection Secure Without a Monthly Bill. Get a lifetime subscription to VPN Unlimited for all your devices with a one-time purchase from the new Gadget Hacks Shop, and watch Hulu or Netflix without regional restrictions.