From June 5 through June 9, Apple will be holding its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The five-day event, which is being held in San Jose, California, isn’t just an opportunity for macOS and iOS developers to get together and have a good time. It’s also when Apple has historically announced or updated products that eventually become a huge part of our digital lives, including iPhone, Apple Music, and more.
Let’s take a look at the WWDC events of years gone by and consider why this is such an important event for Apple.
WWDC by the Numbers
- 71 seconds — The amount of time it took for tickets to sell out for the event in 2013. Since in 2014, tickets to the event are assigned randomly through a lottery system.
- $1,599 — Since 2010, Apple has charged nearly $1,600 for each ticket to the event. Apple also gives out free student scholarship tickets.
- 1983 — The first WWDC was held in Monterey, California, although it wasn’t until 1988 when the event began being held annually.
- 2002 — The last time San Jose hosted WWDC. From 2003 through 2016, the event was held in San Francisco, California.
- 2011 — Steve Jobs hosted his final Apple event at WWDC. The Apple co-founder died the following October at the age of 56.
- 5,000 — Since 2008, Apple has capped the number of attendees to 5,200. This includes 200 scholarship winners.
The Biggest WWDC Moments
1. 1997: The King Returns
Steve Jobs made his triumphant return to the company he co-founded in 1997 after 12 years in the technology wilderness. After being fired by Apple in 1985, Jobs founded NeXT and helped fund the company that became Pixar.
Jobs’ return to Apple was brought on by Cupertino’s February 1997 purchase of NeXT for $427 million. Thanks to the acquisition, Apple would have the tools necessary to introduce a new operating system for Mac a few years later.
Pixar was purchased by The Walt Disney Company in 2006 for $7.4 billion. It has produced some of the biggest films of the past 25 years, including the Toy Story franchise and Finding Nemo.
2. 2000–2001: Saying Hello to Mac OS X
Apple celebrated the dawn of 21st century by introducing Mac OS X (now called macOS) in March 2001. At WWDC 2000 and WWDC 2001, Apple demonstrated the new operating system to developers and the public during numerous how-to sessions. In 2001, the company announced Mac OS X Server, which was big news for business users.
Mac OS X 10.0 served as a radical departure from the classic Mac OS and introduced a new Darwin Unix-like core and a completely new system of memory management.
3. 2005: Cupertino Looks to Intel
At WWDC 2005, Apple announced it would transition the Mac platform to Intel x86 processors from PowerPC processors, which had been developed by Apple, IBM, and Motorola. The move was described as a “seismic shocker” at the time.
Why did Apple make the switch? As Macworld explained:
“The reason, industry analysts say, is that (Steve) Jobs has a clear goal in mind: innovative designs. And such designs require the lowest-voltage chips, which IBM and Freescale were not going to make with the PowerPC chip core…”
The switch would allow Apple to eventually introduce new and speedier Mac products, including the MacBook Air.
4. 2006: Windows Comes to Mac OS X
Apple introduced the Mac Pro as a replacement for the Power Mac G5, which was the company’s final PowerPC-based Mac. At WWDC 2006, Apple also launched Time Machine and Boot Camp for Mac OS X.
With Time Machine, you can backup your Mac with easy. The latter allowed you to access Windows from a Mac computer for the first time. This change was significant in that it allowed folks who would have ordinarily needed to buy a Windows-based computer to purchase a Mac instead.
5. 2007: The Birth of the iPhone
In January 2007, Apple unveiled iPhone, a product that would transition the company from a computer maker to something much more. At WWDC 2007, which focused mostly on the impending arrival of OS X Leopard, Jobs finally announced the release date for iPhone: June 29.
The date was revealed during one of Jobs’ signature “one more thing” moments that ended that year’s keynote address.
6. 2008: App Store Arrives
Though Mac remains an important part of WWDC, beginning in 2008, the main focus of the event began shifting towards iPhone and what would become iOS. This was also the year that Apple announced the App Store, which launched in July 2008. A few years later, the Mac App Store arrived, forever changing how you purchase applications for your computer.
As of January 2017, the App Store features over 2.2 million apps for iPhone and iPad.
7. 2010: The Final Summer iPhone
At WWDC 2010, Apple revealed the iPhone 4, the last Apple handset to launch at the annual event. Since 2011, new iPhones have been announced in the fall, which has dramatically changed when consumers purchased new smartphones each year.
Instead of using the WWDC keynote to announce new iPhones, WWDC instead now serves as a launching pad for next-generation versions of iOS. This is one of the primary reasons the WWDC keynote has become popular with non-developers since it’s a preview of things to come iOS devices.
8. 2013: iCloud Keychain
In 2013, Apple introduced iCloud Keychain, which serves as a secure database for user information that’s accessible from multiple devices. This data includes website login passwords, Wi-Fi network passwords, credit/debit card management, and other account information. AES (256-bit) encryption protects the data.
Meanwhile, Apple Pay, which launched in 2014, launched because of iCloud Keychain. It allows you to make mobile and online purchases without handing over your debit or credit card information to strangers making it a more secure solution.
9. 2014: Swift
Apple used the WWDC 2014 keynote address to announce Swift, a general-purpose, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language for iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and Linux development. Swift has been positioned as an alternative to the Objective-C language that employs modern programming language theory concepts and strives to present a simpler syntax. In doing so, it’s one of the easiest languages to read and maintain.
Because Swift is now open-source, developers can develop iOS and macOS apps on non-Apple systems and have the assurance of 100 percent compatibility. This means more apps for you to try in the future.
10. 2015: Apple Music, Beats 1 Launch
Apple launched the first iPod in 2001, which brought with it the iTunes Store. For over a decade, iTunes was the place to go to buy digital music, which overtook CDs in the early 2000s. The popularity of buying music has ebbed considerably in recent years, however, thanks to the rise of music streaming services such as Spotify.
Cupertino’s entry in this field, Apple Music, launched at WWDC 2015. Like similar subscription plans, Apple Music membership allows you to rent and listen to unlimited music across multiple platforms.
Though Apple Music continues to trail Spotify in terms of the number of subscribers, it would be foolish to count Apple out. This was the company that changed how we consumed music, after all. Perhaps we’ll hear more about the company’s future plans for Apple Music at an upcoming WWDC.
Yes, WWDC Is Important
Apple developers will be the ones gathering in San Jose for the annual WWDC. Ultimately, however, this event is all about the people at home. Many of the products announced at WWDC are the ones you’ll be talking about and using in the months and years ahead.
What has been your favorite products introduced at WWDC? Let us know using the comments below.