WWDC Week 2016

And WWDC 2016 is now officially behind us! What an absolutely crazy week it’s been.

For the third year in a row, I sadly did NOT get a ticket to WWDC (Next year Gadget! Next year.), but thanks to the nature of my work, it’s always still absolutely worth the trip out here anyway to join in on the alternative conferences happening during the week, as well as the festivities during the evening. 

The Keynote Viewing

For those who didn’t get a ticket to see the keynote live, there are MANY great places around SF to watch its live-stream. Hands-down, I think AltConf is arguably the best because they show the keynote in an actual movie theatre, which obviously means the comfort and quality is pretty much unrivalled.

But this year, I flaked on the AltConf viewing because I was extremely lucky to get into the viewing being held at Twitter HQ, located literally behind the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. I’d say that’s as close as you could get! The Twitter office is absolutely beautiful and the viewing room was much bigger and well catered than I was expecting.

The Twitter Office

Watching the keynote at Twitter was excellent. Thankfully, I lined up pretty early at their office, so I managed to get a seat right up the front. :D

WWDC-2016-At-Twitter-HQ

I met a few Twitter engineers the day before and they said that they actually hand-curated the invite list for the viewing party. So I feel I need to extend a huge ‘thanks’ to those folks for letting me attend. :D

Layers Conference

Another conference that runs during WWDC is one called Layers. In a week of conferences about code, Layers aimed to be a very different experience in focusing on the design side of the equation.

I was tempted, but I wasn’t really sure if it would be the sort of thing I, as a developer should attend. To see if I could any input on the matter, I decided to ask on arguably the largest WWDC 2016 Slack. Of all the people I was expecting to get an answer from, I think Marco Arment himself was literally the last! XD

Marcoammentlayers.png

That was more than enough for me. I bought a ticket right after that. Thanks for that Marco!

Layers-Conf

Layers was absolutely fantastic. I had a wonderful time. The topics of the talks were incredibly broad, and a great deal of them opened up my view on certain topics that I had never considered before. Very profound and very enlightening.

And if that wasn’t all, the food at Layers. Oh my god. The food was so incredibly good and in such vast quantities. There was spring rolls, chicken sandwiches, cotton candy, popcorn, a dedicated snack station, AND a dedicated hangover remedy station. My expectations of conference catering will never be the same again. Layers took that bar and raised it as high as it could go!

Finally, to top it all off. At the end of day one, John Hodgkin, the comedian probably most famous for playing PC in the Get a Mac ad campaign came and entertained us for the early evening. It was absolutely hilarious and I really hope a recording of it is officially published at some point.

John-Hodgman-Layers

Massive props go to the main organisers of Layers, Jessie Char and Elaine Pow. Thanks again for putting on such an amazing conference.

The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2016

I kind of got a ticket for the Talk Show 2015 by dumb luck last year. John Gruber tweeted a batch of tickets had become free at 3pm Australia time, to which most of America was asleep. So I got one easily.

Since the guest last year was Phil Schiller, I just knew that the tickets were going to be in crazy demand. But I was still determined to get one. Since the initial announcement that tickets would go live ‘at some point’, I kept the page open, and was able to snap up a ticket an hour or so after they initially went live.

This year’s guests were doubly amazing than last year. Mainly because it was not just Phil Schiller this time, but also Hair Force One himself, Craig Federighi.

The-Talk-Show-WWDC-2016

I absolutely love attending the Talk Show Live. While the WWDC keynote is a very carefully crafted affair, aimed more at customers than actual developers, the Apple executives come to the Talk Show completely unprepared, and happy to talk about the proper development logistics and inner workings of the new operating systems they announced. It’s way more fascinating than the keynote itself.

It was an absolutely amazing evening on that merit alone, but I was also happy I had the chance to meet up with Marco Arment and personally thank him for the Layers recommendation.

I don’t know if I’ll get a ticket to the Talk Show again next year (Or if the guests will even be as good! It’s going to be hard to top that again!), but in any case, I’m incredibly grateful I got in this time.

AltConf 2016

I almost sort of randomly fell into attending AltConf in 2015. Realm had volunteered to help produce the video recordings of the talks that year and I had put my name forward in helping to set-up/clean-up the necessary AV equipment since my Aussie jet lag made it easy for me to get up in the wee hours of the morning. XD

Having such an absolutely fantastic time at AltConf last year, I didn’t hesitate to register a ticket for this time.

AltConf-2016

If you didn’t get a WWDC ticket, attending AltConf alone is worth the trip. The quality of the speakers are always the best of the best, and the fact it’s run inside a literal movie theatre means the seating is ridiculously comfortable. :)

Realm 1.0 Launch Party

A few weeks before WWDC, my company reached a very important milestone. The iOS/OS X version of our little product that my team has been beavering away on reached the appropriate level of stability and feature-completeness that we christened it the official version 1.0 and released it to the masses. To celebrate, we had a huge launch party at the company headquarters.

Realm-1-0-Launch-Party

It was an excellent evening. I got to meet and chat with many Realm users, as well as many people new to Realm but eager to try it out. And I also even met an iComics user too just to round things out. Here’s hoping the version 2.0 launch party will be just as epic. XD

WWDC Itself

I always approach WWDC with bated breath. What will it mean for the work myself and my colleagues do? How much mad scrambling are we going to have to do to support the new operating systems?

Thankfully this year was somewhat quiet. Definitely good in terms of the new features we received, but still rather quiet from a developer perspective.

  • macOS Sierra – For the longest time after Mac OS 9, I used to call it Mac OS X. So I’m very happy the name has gone back in that direction. As for the features, I’m very much looking forward to Siri and remote unlock on my MacBook Pro.
  • watchOS 3 – Oh god yes. I can’t wait hard enough for this. It’ll make the third party apps on my watch actually feel usable. :D
  • tvOS 10 – Not too much here, but the option to set the UI to a light or dark mode is very intriguing.
  • iOS 10 – I’m going to miss slide to unlock, but aside from that, nothing new on my end! I’m a bit sad it didn’t get a dark theme like tvOS though.

I WAS slightly scared for a moment when I heard that iOS 10 was going to be a lot more strict with regards to connecting to non-HTTPS servers. I’m working on that in iComics at the moment, and I was scared I’d have to abandon that. Thankfully, apparently that’s not the situation, and I’ll just need to make the case when I submit the feature.

The fact that the videos at WWDC were all streamed this time was great. These days, there’s really not much point in attending the conference unless you actually have a legit question to ask in the labs. Literally everything else is online right after that.

Conclusion

It was a great week. It was a fantastic week.

I learned a tonne. I got to try new things. I got to meet many of my Twitter heroes in person. I got to try new food. I got recognised far more than I thought I would. And I made a bunch of new friends.

Honestly, even if I don’t get a ticket for WWDC next year, if every year was just like this one, then I would be absolutely fine with that. :)

See you at WWDC 2017. Hopefully! XD