Having arrived at my hotel in San Francisco on the Saturday afternoon, I went into the city to get an idea of what was around, and how I would get to Moscone West (where the conference was been held). San Francisco certainly wins the award for the maddest city I have had the pleasure of visiting – from mad historic cable cars (picture trolleys that just roll down really steep hills whilst you hold on) to the offices of almost all the tech giants, there is a real mix of everything.
In this post, I’m going to talk specifically about the events of the Sunday and Monday (before the main actual Engineering sessions started) and a non-technical session on Tuesday night.
The Sunday was when badge pickup was opened. Because of the time difference, I was up and in the city by about 6am, so I had no trouble getting there for the 9am opening, and the applause from the Apple employees as we picked up our badges and WWDC jackets.
After picking up a few supplies, I headed to the Caltrain station (where the massive American trains you see in the Movies leave from) to make the trip to Apple Campus (or ‘Pilgrimage’ as it is known by other developers). It’s about a two hours journey – an hour on the train to Sunnyvale (which is tropical compared to San Francisco) followed by either a bus or a long walk. Luckily I met some other guys headed up there, so the walk passed quickly – before we knew it we had bought all the T-Shirts and were heading back.
The Monday is when the conference officially starts, with the Keynote (where new products are introduced), another presentation and then the Apple Design Awards. This is where things get a little difficult – apart from the Keynote and the WWDC Bash, everything that takes place in Moscone West is under the Apple Non-Disclosure Agreement that we sign as developers. Hopefully you’ll understand that if I am been vague about something, this is why.
The keynote really is the main ‘fun’ part of the week – the part that everybody is excited for – hence the queue starts 24 hours before. I ended up in the queue with a whole load of other dedicated people (and the security team, who felt the need to give their dogs ID badges!) who had queued from 2:30am, and we ended up with pretty awesome seats near the front. The excitement was incredible – especially in the final hour – and the sight of 100’s of developers that just forgot dignity and went for a full on sprint across the conference hall and up the escalators was comical. Of course, this year iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks were introduced, both with some very exciting new features, and the atmosphere as they were introduced was incredible – especially for iOS 7, where people were literally screaming with delight.
After an NDA presentation, the third presentation of the day was the Apple Design Awards. Along with some sessions on UI design later in the week, it was incredible to see what other developers had achieved in their apps and I definitely picked up a few ideas for my apps.
On the Tuesday night, there was ‘Stump the Experts’, which has been going for 23 years. It basically takes the form of a panel show – the audience (5000 developers) vs about 40 Apple Engineers (the ones that have been at the company for a long time). They asked us some questions, and we were able to ask them questions. Because it is a mix of the people that either built the products or understand them to the lowest level, the questions are just mad – for example, ‘How could one use a powered off MacBook to put another MacBook to sleep without pressing any of the keys?’, ‘Beside an OS install and properly formatted partition map, what other feature does a Firewire drive require to be bootable?’ and ‘How many mm^2 are in the white section of one of the new Apple Stickers (show working)?’. It was certainly very entertaining!