Eight years have passed since our first Apple conference. Many for those who have launched themselves in the magic App development world, just weeks for those who follow Apple since the 90’s. For us, it took years to assume the responsibility to reveal its secrets.
Do not expect a list of news that you are already aware of through videos provided by Apple, but a guide to how we survived one of the most important conferences in the world.
Everything begins with an email at the end of March when mama Apple invites us to participate in the lottery to get and, above all, pay for the ticket for the WWDC17. The reaction is not to be waited; in Iakta emails that announce the happy event quickly turn in a few minutes into chaotic spam among colleagues.
We overlook the fact that the average desk distance is 4 meters and we were just 2 people at the time.
After the order has been restored, our rampant administrative department decides that in order to secure at least one ticket, Iakta must take part in the auction with two names. The Board in plenary session decides on Walter and yours truly (Piergiorgio) to the surprise of all those present. The rules for participating are simple: the possibility of buying a ticket is decided by fate and tickets can not be exchanged except for colleagues.
We sign up with the mutual promise of turning our ticket to the other one in the event of a single victory, knowing in our heart that we would never ever give up the bone.
After a dozen days, the double confirmation comes in the middle of the night. First an SMS from the bank because of a withdrawal of 1499 euros and following the due congratulations of Apple for being alucky winner, in pure style “gimme coins see ticket”.
At two o’clock i the morning we unleash a storm of announcements, rigorously via iMessage, just to find out that Mmama Apple has extracted both of our names.
The embarrassment for double expense does little to dampen our enthousiasm and urges us to purchase air tickets and an hotel. We risk booking the plane to San Josè in Costa Rica because the WWDC17 is no longer in San Francisco, but in the laid-back town of San Jose (without accent) California.
The most difficult decision is the hotel. Fortunately, Apple (less mother and more greedy parent) makes our choice easier by offering the best hotels in the area for 500 euros per night. Indeed, they are 20% discounted compared to the usual booking sites, but are slightly out of our budget.
Choosing a location within 20 minutes on foot or by public transport is crucial.
The Conference (blatantly uppercase) always takes place from Monday to Friday in the first or second week of June. The day before the event, we have to get the badges and any gadgets, unless we want to pick them up up on Monday morning at dawn, Keynote’s day. This is absolutely to avoid.
It would be cautious enough to arrive on Saturday, but the ancient wisdom of the Iakta men decides upon Friday: it is best to avoid anything unexpected.
Sunny San Jose is nonetheless on the Bay and we, not being of albionic descendance whose blood freezes only at temperatures below zero, are deciding towards a mixed choice of long/short clothing.
After packing up our luggage, we can go.
The trip goes great, if we don’t consider things like:
- one of the two Iakta men who bring fruits (banned by federal rules, especially if they are brought on ground),
- the old whimsical lady who occupies just by herself 4 free seats, because only she has to relax,
- same Iakta man who refuses to watch movies and/or shows on the onboard video because for religious reasons he doesn’t watch anything on a screen under 40 inches,
- the neighbor who eats a dish with white rice and steaming liver (at 3 o’clock in the morning),
- the same Iakta man hiding leftover from in-board meals to eat later.
We arrive at the destination.
For the extra days there we are going to breathe the super nerd air in the Silicon Valley. We rent a car and head for 1 Infinite Loop at Cupertino, Apple’s historic headquarters (from 2018 will be Apple Park).
In full bipartisan spirit we also visit Mountain View, where the ones from the “other side” work and every year hold their conference . Accompanied by friends, we spit appleseeds as we listen to the vicissitudes that every American grandfather would tell his little apple while sitting in front of the fireplace:
- those hippies hold the conference outdoor (it’s not Woodstock!),
- the first day of last year conference they were scorched by the sun while queueing; thus losing the conference,
- they have so little to show that the conference lasts just a couple of days,
- it costs only 1000 euros.
Between gossip and untrue truths finally we get to Sunday when the first big queue begins, indoor.
Some dark side followers come up with a printed ticket and are immediately marginalized in a queue not too visible to the public looking from the street. The real apple ji is techno-equipped: use the iPhone or iWatch.
Participating in the WWDC with less than 4 Apple item is demeaning. It is also the only week of the year when the cover (original) with extra battery (rumours are that Steve will come back from the dead to beat the hell out of Jony for this), is well looked upon. We choose a sober survival kit: iPhone, Macbook Pro and iPad.
Sunday is the time to pick up the bagde and various gadgets (Levi’s jeans jacket and dozens of pins) and especially to make the first acquaintances.
It is also time to show off how many years everyone has been attending the WWDC with the gadgets of previous years; some attendees even show items received in the early 90’s. All fades to the background when the light burrito breakfast is served.
The WWDC is fun, food and free drinks (of course, with what you paid for).
Monday is Keynote’s Day. Remembering 15 years at the Moscone Center, whose largest hall can not accommodate all 6,000 plus journalists present, the developer community sets off at 3 am. Even in the face of the fact that the joined Hall 2 and Hall 3 of the San Jose McEnery Convention Center can contain everyone, we can not feel in ourselves to break the tradition.
We queue at 5am, with healthy food (cherries and raspberries) and drinks bought the day before: the doors will open at 9am.
Our turn comes and we enter to the applause of the staff. We run like hungry beasts to have breakfast while we queu in respectful order.
Keynote is the mother of all events. It starts at 10am and lasts until lunch time. Tim and comrades present all the software novelties they have come up with. There is also room for some hardware news.
Tim’s arrival on the stage is welcomed by a standing ovation, but it’s only with Craig’s arrival, Apple’s own “Belli Capelli” (beautiful hair) that fan berserk into delirium, just as if he were one of the Beatles.
Other moments of excitement coincide with the presentation of new products or features. Just a name and a picture, or even just the technical specifications, are enough to see wallets thrown on stage to the screams of “Take my money!”.
As lunch time comes, the first doubts arise: are we sure we won’t be eating only burrito for the next 5 days?
After that there’s the afternoon event, the State of the Union, which is a most technical review with nerd insights of all that was seen in the morning. Not to be missed.
We can remember years when there was standing ovation just for announcing a new obscure function to the XCode debugger.
From Tuesday to Friday there is a succession of queues, sessions, laboratories and food.
The queues are always useful, so if we see one, we join it and only then ask the staff what is it for. Things you cannot miss:
- Breakfast, snacks and lunch
- buy some WWDC memorabilia,
- Make a selfie with Hair Force One (Apple’s “Beautiful Hair”),
- Get missing pins.
Special mention goes to the queue for Odwalla, the drink of real developers. The taste of Mango Tango is the most popular, in fact we have not seen it after Tuesday morning. Uncontrolled rumours saw it in a cabinet on the second floor on Thursday but it seems to be just a legend.
The introductory or specific sessions on the topics seen in the Keynote, usually the only reason for our presence at WWDC, are so many that it’s impossible to see them all. We choose the most interesting; the others are available in video.
For those who have coding, design or publishing problems, there are specific times vis à vis with an Apple engineer. Laboratories are also very useful.
In the lunch break we do not miss the entertainment sessions. Just giving two names like Michelle Obama and Christine Darden of Nasa should be enough to silence the envious. Touching and entertaining the session lunch with @ToddStabelfeldt AKA The Quad Father.
For the shy who have not gotten to know anyone yet, mama Apple fills the conference with side events to socialize; dress code strictly Apple, jeans jacket, all the pins in collected the queues and the unavoidable bracelet (for the alcohol).
The most important evening event is the Bash on Thursday night with a live concert of famous group and dinner (this year all burrito, tacos and wrap). Another special mention for Lagunitas Pils and IPA beers. Although tired by the great work during the conference, we will not lose one!
Between laughter, new knowledge and extreme development we come to Friday afternoon, where there are no new sessions, but you can attend some that you may have lost. This is the occasion for greetings, memories and selfies with dogs for the blind. They also are rigorously equipped with their badges.