5 Epiphanies from My First [Digital] WWDC

The WorldWide Developers Conference is Apple’s very own annual tech conference, typically hosted in San Jose, CA but was hosted virtually for the second year in a row. WWDC is Apple’s chance to unveil the latest tech marvels they’ve created over the past year, developers’ chance to learn how to make their own magic from them, and consumers’ chance to bask in the glow of it all. This was my first time attending WWDC as an iOS software engineer and here are the five unshakeable realizations that I took away from the experience.

📝 If At First It Doesn’t Click, Stick A Pin In It
Something that feels incredibly limited at WWDC is time to watch all the presentations. Something that actually is limited at WWDC, however, is the opportunity to attend Labs or participate in real-time discussions in the Lounges, or day-of discussions with coworkers. Time to catch up on all the talks is actually abundant at WWDC; the talks remain online, you can watch them any time. You can’t, however, schedule a Lab or participate in real-time discussions any time.

I have the tendency to want to keep working at things until they click for me, and WWDC is not the time for that. The ARC presentation was a great example of this for me. I finished the video and promptly clicked away, comprehending nothing but the vibes. But upon weekend rewatch, it began to make a lot more sense. WWDC in general can be overwhelming, so it’s not surprising if sometimes concepts don’t click on the first try. So give it a first watch, put it on a sticky note, continue exploring, and prioritize the things that cannot be consumed in “your own time.”

🎧 Choose A Focus and Commit to It
If you have a niche interest, WWDC is easy enough to navigate. However, I’m a new developer, so I wasn’t really sure what specifically I wanted to focus on. There are too many iOS engineering topics to comfortably fit in a work week, and even narrowing it down to Swift didn’t help an awful lot. Upon asking my iOS dev co-workers what they were interested in, I was reminded of the decision I’d often faced at music festivals: “I could either go watch this band I don’t care about that my friends really want to watch, or I could go watch a band alone that I heard good things about but never got a chance to check out before.”

Translated for WWDC, if the goal is a good community or team-building experience, opt to use your time to watch the buzzed-about presentations with your fellow devs. If the focus is more on personal enrichment, opt for the lesser-hyped but promising presentations solo.

♿️ Accessibility Should Be On Everyone’s Agenda
Accessibility is incredibly important, but it seems that many developers don’t realize how critical it is until they either encounter a first-hand need for Accessibility or find themselves close to someone with Accessibility needs. Something that stuck with me from the Accessibility presentation was the Avid developer mentioning that they didn’t want to also make an Accessible version of Pro Tools, but rather they just wanted to make Pro Tools universally accessible to everyone. That was an “aha” moment for me in that it illustrated the value of beginning a project with Accessibility in mind, rather than adding it retroactively.

💞 Add Inclusivity, Too
Tied to the importance of inclusivity for people with disabilities, Apple also highlighted the importance of inclusion of people of different ethnic, sexual, gender, and religious identities. The biggest takeaway for me here was that while Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines are a good guide to using welcoming and inclusive language and design, having a diverse set of eyes on your product from the very start is the best defense against future issues around exclusion. Diverse teams create diverse products, and diverse products reach wider audiences. Considering the digital nature of this year’s WWDC, it’s great that inclusivity and accessibility both came out as major standouts this year.

💻 Conferences Being More Virtual Is A Good Thing
Historically, attending WWDC has been a rather exclusive endeavor with budding attendees having to enter a lottery to gain access to $1600 tickets. Once those hurdles were cleared, there were also the logistical difficulties for people who live outside the California area or outside the United States.

While WWDC talks have been long-shared online by Apple, this new digital conference format allowed for developers from all over the world to engage with the content in real time, and the pre-recorded nature of the presentations offer more eye-catching and attention-retaining content than the live talks of the past.

⚗️ Labs are a unique staple of WWDC where attendees could sign up to have small-group or one-on-one Q&A consults with Apple experts, and could only be utilized if you could make the trip in person to the conference. This year, anyone with an Apple Developer Account could request to attend a 1:1 Lab Session with an Apple-employed professional from their own home or office. I had the opportunity to attend a Lab session and it was a really cool experience, and I hope Apple keeps doing the virtual labs too when WWDC returns to an in-person endeavor.

WWDC, even as a digital conference, is a lofty event to take on. But it is an invaluable opportunity to learn and grow as a developer. WWDC being online this year made it an experience that people of many different regional, financial, and sociopolitical backgrounds could take part in with relative ease. There are tons of benefits to in-person conference events, but the overall value of virtual elements can no longer be ignored.




iOS Engineer. Ahsoka Tano cosplayer. Coding Bootcamp graduate. ENFP. Probably loves you.

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Nedra Mevoli

Nedra Mevoli

iOS Engineer. Ahsoka Tano cosplayer. Coding Bootcamp graduate. ENFP. Probably loves you.

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