Under the Radar

294: WWDC Excitement


00:00:00   Welcome to Under the Radar, a show about independent iOS app development. I'm Marco Arment.

00:00:05   And I'm David Smith. Under the Radar is usually not longer than 30 minutes, so let's get started.

00:00:09   It is that time of year. We are about to head to WWDC. I'm excited. Every year, on the lead-up to it, I'm always like, "Man, I don't know the logistics. Do I really want to fly to California right now? I'm really busy." That happens every year.

00:00:24   And then I arrange the trip and I do it, and then a few days before I'm like, "Okay, now I'm excited. Now I can't wait. I really can't wait to be there."

00:00:33   I don't know. I'm exactly the same way. I think for both of us, this has been just a fixture on our calendar for so long. This is a thing. And sometimes that is slightly tiring. Sometimes that is reassuring.

00:00:48   It is this weird thing that every time, "Oh, it's the beginning of June. It's time for WWDC." And sometimes I'm not looking forward to it. But then inevitably, the closer I get to it, the more just excited and just kind of anxious in a good way, maybe, for the event becomes.

00:01:05   Because it is such a transformative event in our calendar. Whatever gets announced, as we're recording, I think we're 100 hours away from the beginning of the keynote. I just have a countdown running on my phone. And so I was like, "100 hours. We'll find out what's happening for the next year."

00:01:22   And that's exciting. That's really cool. And it's very fun to have this, "You just never know." There have been some years where it's like, "Huh. There's not really anything for me here." And then there have been the other years, which are the complete opposite.

00:01:35   Four years ago, WidgetKit was announced, and that completely changed my life. So you just never know what's coming and what's going to happen. So it's exciting, it's cool, and it's a little scary at the same time.

00:01:47   Yeah, exactly. I think, as we talked about in previous years, the wisest approach to this big event of the year is to clear the decks as much as possible beforehand. Obviously, as this episode's coming out days before, it's probably a little late for that.

00:02:02   But the best advice we can give is to go into WWDC knowing that it's going to probably throw a wrench in your plans in some way. And it's probably in a good way. But whatever you think is going to happen, there's probably going to be either details about that that are not what you expect, and/or there will be lots of things that were not rumored, that were not expected, that are nice surprises.

00:02:29   Or, "Oh, we can all of a sudden do this," or, "There's a cool new framework," or this significant new language feature. Obviously, this year, there's going to be a lot of, most likely, movement around Swift concurrency and sendable safety and stuff like that, with the most likely delivery of Swift 6.

00:02:46   And a lot of that we can see in the open, because Swift is developed mostly in the open. But I think that's going to be a big story for developers of this major new language shift with Swift and with concurrency safety.

00:02:59   We're going to be starting that here and now, and then that's going to be a years-long timeline of slowly migrating over to that, slowly getting rid of the hundreds of warnings that your projects might have with strict concurrency.

00:03:15   So, there's going to be that, there's going to be the usual dose of new APIs, new improvements to other APIs. Like, here's some new improvements to Swift UI, and new improvements to Async, and stuff like that. There's going to be the usual collection of that.

00:03:31   So, I think that this is always, I always love this time of year, it's always a combination of excitement and stress. I try to manage the stress as best as I can. And, you know, because the excitement is like, "I want to use all this new stuff. This is so cool, I can't wait until I get to use it."

00:03:49   And the stress is a combination of like, A, I can't use this until I can require this version of the OS in a year or three, or B, now that this capability exists, I have to adopt it because my customers will expect it, and I have a timeline now.

00:04:05   Like, I have to be in beta sometime in the summer and have this shipped in the fall. So, there's that kind of combination of stressors that come along with this time. But, overall, I think it ends up being good overall, and it moves us forward, and that's always fun.

00:04:20   Yeah, exactly. And I think it's interesting, I think we're now sort of steadily in the kind of like new phase of WDC, where it is primarily an online event that is structured in a different way. I think we've kind of gotten a sense of what this is going to be and can have some expectation for that.

00:04:38   You know, there was in the early years of it, it's like every year felt very different to the year before, as they were kind of finding the flow that works and the patterns that worked, and I think we're now kind of definitively like, this is what WDC is going to look like going forward.

00:04:50   This is kind of what we can expect. And, you know, and I think it's in a good place for that, you know, generally, but it's nice that I have less ambiguity about it than I did, you know, in a couple years ago, where it's like, is this year going to be different? Is this going to be changed?

00:05:04   It's like now at least I know what I'm getting into. And so I can focus more on the content than necessarily just like the logistics and structure of what to expect.

00:05:12   Yeah, exactly. I'm really glad that they've settled into kind of this new format of the conference. You know, the old format, you know, where you have the big conference center and all the sessions are in person, and then maybe they get streamed live, maybe they get downloaded later. This new format is just, it is much smaller in the sense of how many developers they can have in person, but it is just so much more accessible to so many more people.

00:05:35   You know, there's maybe a couple thousand developers that can go there in person. There's hundreds of thousands of developers around the world.

00:05:43   So it's always been like the in-person event has always been really a drop in the bucket, you know, compared to the entire Apple development community out there.

00:05:52   So everything else they did, like in terms of making the sessions available, streaming them live, you know, later on during COVID, like having things like virtual labs, all of that benefits so many more people than the in-person stuff ever benefited before.

00:06:08   So it's good that they had a few years where they had to develop that, because that made everything better for everybody.

00:06:15   And then now they're finding like smaller ways, like, okay, well, for the in-person event, for the people who can come, this is now more like a special treat than the actual conference.

00:06:26   And let's, you know, kind of treat it that way, first of all.

00:06:29   But also, like, to recognize, like, anything we can do for that special treat will make it better for those people who came out who actually, you know, flew out maybe or stayed in a hotel maybe, which is very expensive.

00:06:40   Like, they're making it better for people, but in ways that they're not really making you feel like you're missing a lot by not being there.

00:06:48   Like, if you're watching along at home in the developer app, you're still getting the bulk of the, you're getting almost all of, like, quote, "the conference."

00:06:57   You're getting certainly all the meat of it.

00:06:59   You're getting every session, you're getting everything live streamed, you're getting the full, you know, video production, the captions, the searchability, the sample code, like you're getting all that stuff.

00:07:07   And the only thing you're missing in person is, like, some receptions and stuff, and, you know, like, and visiting Apple Park, which are really cool things.

00:07:15   But if you are a developer trying to follow this stuff, you know, for your job or for your hobby, that's not that important for you to be missing.

00:07:23   Yeah, and I think maybe it's just helpful to just sort of quickly just summarize the flow.

00:07:27   Just if you're a listener and you've never been through one of these kind of virtual WDCs, kind of what to expect.

00:07:33   And so essentially on Monday morning at, I guess, 10 o'clock Pacific, there will be the keynote, which will be, you know, streamed everywhere, like, apple.com probably.

00:07:44   And so after then there'll be that, and then at 1 p.m. Pacific, there'll be the platform State of the Union, which is the sort of technical keynote, where they'll talk through more of the developer side of the stories of the year.

00:07:57   And so these are the actual, like, implementation details and the changes in Xcode and how it actually will affect us all.

00:08:04   And then from there, the rest of the week, sort of Tuesday through Friday, will tend to follow a pattern where I suspect in the morning Pacific time, usually I think it was,

00:08:14   then there'll be a sort of a drop of session videos. And so these are things elaborating on the contents of the, you know, of the new announcements,

00:08:23   and they tend to kind of bulk sort of meter them out over the week rather than just like dropping them all on Tuesday morning.

00:08:29   I don't know if that'll be the case this year, but that's typically the way they do it. And in some ways that's helpful because it tends to create a little bit of structure where otherwise it could be a little overwhelming.

00:08:39   And then in relation to those, there'll be some online labs that will be sort of put on.

00:08:44   And these are things where you can, if you have a question or an issue or a problem, you can make a request to Apple and you will have a sort of a fairly short, but a focused, useful kind of virtual video conference with one or two Apple engineers who will be there to help answer your questions, work through the issue, whatever that might be.

00:09:05   And these are available whenever you want in terms of, you know, like, it's not just in the old days, it was much more complicated to do those because they were very time limited and very focused.

00:09:16   These you can, you know, they're available at certain times of the day or the week, but they're typically there's a bit more flexibility around that.

00:09:23   And so you can apply for one of those if you have a question. And if you have a question, by all means, take advantage of it.

00:09:27   It's a service in Apple provides and it's a rare thing to have access to Apple engineers. So sort of take advantage of that as you could.

00:09:35   And then additionally, this year, there's a new thing. In the last couple years, they had a kind of like online community thing where they did it through Slack groups.

00:09:44   It seems like this year that's gone away. And instead, I think the developer forums have been, they recently just launched a big overhaul upgrade to the developer forums.

00:09:54   And it seems like as part of that, that is where they're potentially doing that kind of, like short form question and answer with Apple engineers.

00:10:03   And so it doesn't seem so far like we have indication that there's necessarily going to be the structured events that we used to have in the Slack the last few years where it would be like, we're going to have a session, you know, for the for this hour, we're going to talk about watch kit.

00:10:15   And we're going to, you know, if you have any questions come and answer them. It seems a bit more unstructured, maybe this year, but it's hard to know until it actually happens.

00:10:22   But it seems like if you have a particular question that isn't quite at the level of a lab, but it's something that you want some help with, there's going to be a lot of Apple engineers who are going to spend a lot of time in the forums, where you if you have a question, you ask it, you might just get the answer back.

00:10:36   And that's a much more efficient use of everyone's time. If it's something like that, rather than something that's a bit more philosophical or complicated or needs, you know, 10 minutes to unpack with an engineer.

00:10:45   If you just have like, so I tried this API, and it didn't work, or am I using this wrong, like, you may be able to get much more help from that in the forums, and potentially from what it sounds like in Apple's marketing material around the new forums, it sounds like that may also sustain a bit more at the very least through the summer.

00:11:01   In terms of there may be, you know, it's rather than the old problem was, if you didn't have your question by, you know, Friday next week, you were kind of out of luck in terms of having a great venue for asking it was it sounds like through the forums, you may be able to get help, at least at some level throughout the rest of the, you know, throughout the rest of the summer, if not just sort of indefinitely as an option.

00:11:22   And so you just kind of the flow I tend to get into for the next week is it's going to be another Monday is just a bit of a, you know, that's going to be its own little adventure. But you know, Tuesday through Friday, there's just gonna be a lot of I tend to wake up and watch some sessions, kind of, as I'm going, I'm just always collecting questions, if it's big enough question that I feel like it's worth a lab, I'll request a slot.

00:11:41   Otherwise, maybe I'll go to the forums and be asking it there. And then otherwise, just kind of spending time on the various both in forums, as well as just various places online blogs and bastard on and places like that, just kind of get a sense of if there's things that I am not aware of that I should be, you know, so that I'm keeping myself abreast of all the changes.

00:11:58   And if there's the little gems or things that I need to be aware of, just kind of go, you know, try and stay, you know, sort of keep keep keep an eye open the rest of the week, to make sure that I've learned everything that I can and taken advantage of every opportunity that I can.

00:12:12   Yeah, I actually I really like I mean, we'll see how it works out. I like the idea of them using the forums more and replacing those those slack channels they were using in previous years. Because, as you mentioned, like, there was always this time crunch during the conference where, like you have during this four or five day period, you have massive access to Apple people to answer questions about the things that they just announced on Monday.

00:12:39   But you have to use the things they just announced before you can really form a lot of your questions like you might need to spend a couple of days writing into new framework, or using a new feature before you even have questions.

00:12:52   And when you're going to do that in the middle of this conference, like it, it was always like this mad rushing, okay, after after the keynote, download all the betas and get get them all installed, and then start playing with them ASAP, just so you can form some kind of questions for the next couple of days before you lose this opportunity for a year.

00:13:10   So, you know, that was always, you know, a pretty big mad rush, in addition to the fact that, like, during the during the time that you are out there, there's also all these events going on. There's there's not only you know, whatever the sessions are that Apple puts on, there's the State of the Union in the afternoon, there's all these different like little developer events and stuff and receptions and, and maybe that maybe the ADA is and stuff like that.

00:13:32   So there's all these events that you're trying to do. You're also trying to be social with the people who were there if you're there in person, because like, that's a huge part of it as well.

00:13:40   And meanwhile, you have this, you know, this very narrow time window to, you know, to access these people, these Apple people and have your questions answered.

00:13:49   And, and also, like, after that week was over, those Slack channels would be archived or whatever, and they'd be maybe a little bit searchable or a little bit available here and there, but it was never, you know, it wouldn't like show up in web searches later down later in the year and stuff like that.

00:14:03   And it was always this treasure trove of information that was kind of buried and locked away and not really very accessible.

00:14:09   So putting more like trying to channel that into the forums, first of all, that will be public and searchable. That's great.

00:14:19   And but you know, the big difference is if they're going to actually have Apple people, you know, monitoring those answering questions.

00:14:26   The Apple developer forums have always been, I would say under resourced, like the there's always been a few engineers from the company who diligently post there and help people out, but they need so many more just to handle the load and the breadth of what's being asked there.

00:14:45   And so every year, they seem to have some kind of refresh to the developer forums that so far have not really changed that dynamic at all, because it seems like, you know, what they keep doing is like reskinning them or something, but not really solving the people problem of like, we need more Apple experts there answering questions and providing good info.

00:15:05   If this marks a change in that policy where they're actually going to have more of their people there, and maybe for more than just this week, that would be a massive value to the developer community.

00:15:16   And it would it would go far beyond the context of WVDC like that would be a fantastic year round value.

00:15:23   And I really hope that's the direction they're going. Because, you know, we don't look we don't need to be going to Stack Overflow for everything.

00:15:30   Apple has their own forums, there's different and often more information there that could possibly be there.

00:15:37   But you know, right now, a lot of most of you know, whenever I land on a dev forums page from web search, what I usually see is a question with no answers.

00:15:47   And, you know, oftentimes, unfortunately, that's my question.

00:15:50   So like, that's the same question I have. So I want to I'm looking for the answer and it's just not there.

00:15:55   And so for Apple to improve that in a substantial way, like on the people side, not the website template side, I would love to see that.

00:16:03   That's a big job. I don't know if they're doing that. But but I think that would be a good use of their infinite dollars.

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00:17:40   And so in the same way that the onsite WDC is only a tiny sliver of the overall community, it's probably the same thing in our audience.

00:17:48   I imagine there are some people who are listening to this who will be able to get a ticket to attend in person, but the majority won't.

00:17:54   But nevertheless, I did think it was also just a few thoughts about if you are fortunate enough to be there in person, just to sort of make the most of your time there.

00:18:02   Just sort of some hints and sort of tips and tricks about that.

00:18:05   And the first thing with that is I think it's A) understand that a lot of it is going to be outside and it seems like from the weather forecast that it is going to be very warm.

00:18:13   So sort of in the mid 80s Fahrenheit, so that's like low 30s Celsius, like it is going to be a very warm day.

00:18:21   So plan accordingly. You can wear a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, stay in the shade, try and pace yourself.

00:18:27   Because it can be a really fun day.

00:18:29   Like it's been, you know, like last year, this is probably the closest in structure to it. It was just a lovely day to spend at Apple Park, to connect with people, to connect with Apple engineers, to be able to kind of breathe in the enthusiasm of Apple engineers, which is something that I always just really love about being able to be there in person is there's all these engineers who've been working on these things sometimes for years kind of in secrecy away, and they're finally public and they can finally talk about them and their enthusiasm is delightful.

00:18:56   I would encourage everyone who is there to just make sure you just engage in the things that are available and try and you know, even if like my first couple years at WDC, I am just naturally a very shy person. I don't really enjoy this kind of an environment as well.

00:19:12   But it was always the like, I would try and force myself to be sort of engaging these things and attend the things, even if it wasn't necessarily my comfort zone, because that's how I met people. That's how I met so many people in this community who are now like dear friends of mine who, you know, who I really value the relationships we have is like I met them all at WDC.

00:19:31   And so it's just something to say with that, you know, but otherwise, it's like, pay attention to, there's a bunch of things that I think are available, you know, if you're on site that aren't going to be probably promoted very widely.

00:19:44   So just like be checking the developer page for the special event and making sure that you aren't, you know, if there's things you need to sign up for those events that you in your schedule that you could go to, just make sure that you're taking advantage of it, because it's a rare opportunity, and it's really cool.

00:19:56   And I would say, a little bit too is it's the I sort of the first the first year I didn't do this as well as I did last year's I think I typically get into this mindset where on Monday, after the keynote, I start to get too wrapped up into like, Oh, no, right away, I need to download Xcode, I need to be in there, they're doing the codes, I need to be trying things out.

00:20:16   And it's like, if you're fortunate enough to have a ticket to be there at Apple Park, I think you're going to get a lot more broadly out of your time to just enjoy your time there to take advantage of the opportunity to bring in a sort of just like, just breathe in that fun experience.

00:20:30   And you can dive into that on Tuesday, you know, you take your time and engage in that, like sitting in the back of Cafe Max, we're trying to get Xcode downloaded so that you can try something like I'm not sure if that's a great use of your time.

00:20:42   I mean, it could be if you're for your circumstance, but what I found is like was a much better use of my time to get up and walk around and meet some people and say hi. And really just enjoy the opportunity because it is a rare thing and a special thing.

00:20:54   So just like, be careful about that if you're out there and otherwise, I guess drink a lot of water and stay in the shade as much as you can.

00:21:00   Yeah, that's great advice. That's what I was saying a minute ago of like, there's always there is like this mad rush, you know, trying to figure out how do I spend my time during this few days and, you know, there's an inclination to do a lot of work on those days and download the SDKs and start getting into all that stuff.

00:21:17   And there are reasons to do that. Like in the labs are a big reason to do that. You know, there are these time bounded things. But it is also like there are so many other competing things for that time.

00:21:27   And as David said, like if you are there in person, you really want to be doing in person events, like because that's what you're there for.

00:21:36   So I would say like maximize in person events during the time you are there if you're in person. And you can always go back to the SDKs and do your work later.

00:21:45   Like that's that that is what will happen the following week. Even later that week on the plane ride home, we know whatever the case is, like you'll have time to do that.

00:21:54   That week, your main job is not to jump into coding immediately. And even if you're not there, even if you're watching at home, there are still all these session videos to watch.

00:22:04   And if you're spending so much time coding, you're not going to have as much time to actually watch the sessions.

00:22:10   And a lot of times, like the questions I have for the labs oftentimes come up because of what I saw in session videos.

00:22:17   So I would say that is of similar value. And I found too, like I found it helpful to dedicate those days to consuming the content of the conference.

00:22:29   Because if I don't do it those days, I'll never do it.

00:22:33   Like throughout the rest of the year, there is never a day in the rest of the year where I tell myself I'm going to watch four session videos this morning.

00:22:41   That never happens. Instead, I treat it more like a search and a reference. Like I was recently implementing StoreKit 2 for the first time.

00:22:48   So I said, "All right, let me go watch a few StoreKit 2 videos." If I'm not seeking something out in particular, I would never have taken the time to watch those videos.

00:22:56   And whereas when you're actually in conference mode, when you've told yourself, "My main goal today is to watch as many of these sessions as I can," you maybe watch things that you wouldn't necessarily have watched in that kind of search reference mode later in the year.

00:23:14   And you will often learn about possibilities or learn about little details of how things work or learn about APIs you didn't even know existed through that kind of more exploratory mode that you're in when you're telling yourself, "My job right now is to absorb as much of this as possible."

00:23:29   So take next week as not just a regular work week and not just a time that you should be coding the entire time. Take it as this is a conference week. I'm going to spend… Take out a big chunk of the day. Maybe it's the morning.

00:23:45   Whatever it is, take a big chunk of the day each day next week and say, "I'm going to watch the sessions of the day for this much time in the morning," or, "I'm going to watch this number of sessions." And make it a large enough amount of time or a large enough number of sessions that you will be forced to explore topics that are outside of your one core specialty.

00:24:06   If you don't make games, maybe watch one game session to see what kind of things are available. Say you use SwiftUI, but maybe you're curious if there's something new in UIKit that you could use in a wrapped form or something.

00:24:22   Or vice versa. If you don't use SwiftUI yet, maybe watch the "What's New in SwiftUI" video to see, "Hey, maybe there's some things I can start migrating there or some reasons I might want to." Things like that. When you're in that kind of mode, it gives you the capacity to expand beyond your usual horizons.

00:24:41   That's the value I always got out of the conference in person when all the sessions were in person. There were certain time slots where I was like, "Well, the available sessions during this time slot are not things I would normally have gone to, but I'm in the conference center. Let me go sit in one and see if I learn anything." And I always did. It was always worth it.

00:24:59   So take this time and broaden your horizons with the sessions and take a break from coding for a week if you can.

00:25:06   Yeah, and I think it's a great aspect of what you're saying there, too. This is the time of the year that new opportunities tend to present themselves. And I think especially as an audience that is likely going to be largely indie developers, this is the time when the cool new little niches will emerge.

00:25:25   That Apple is announcing something and there's an opportunity for us to run in and fill in that gap and fill in that niche for this new opportunity. And so being open-minded and as expansive as you can about the things that you explore, because you never really know where that cool idea is going to come from.

00:25:44   What's announced thing is going to really hit in your mind and you could be excited about and have some new app ready by September. And so I think spending this week in that much more open-minded thinking about possibilities rather than getting too wrapped up right away into, "Okay, there's this new thing. How am I going to implement that in my new app?"

00:26:06   And that is certainly useful, but also have this take the mindset of what new things can I do in my app? What possibilities could I explore? What new things are there? And trying to not get too into the weeds too quickly unless you absolutely need to.

00:26:22   Because I think having this week be as wide as you can in the things that you're interested in and the things that you expose yourself to, because you just never know. I've had all kinds of experiences where I watch a session video that I didn't really expect I was going to see anything in that would spark an idea, but it sparks an idea.

00:26:42   And I see something and I'm like, "Oh, that's cool. I want to add that to my app." Even if it isn't necessarily on the obvious path of features and things that I should be doing, that's where the really cool stuff happens and that's where the opportunities come.

00:26:54   And then it's like you just never know what opportunities are going to arrive if you have that perspective and take a wide view rather than getting too narrow and too in the weeds too quickly.

00:27:04   Really? Just go out there and enjoy. You have the entire summer to get in the weeds, and we will. That's what the following week is for.

00:27:14   We all know that the way Apple works with their software releases really is if you want a bug to be fixed, you have a pretty short timeline each year to do it. It's basically considered mid-June to mid-July is roughly the time you have to get your pet change made.

00:27:35   And so there is a bit of a rush to get into everything and to try to find those because of this admittedly ridiculous and totally self-imposed ridiculous timeline that Apple holds themselves to with their software efforts.

00:27:50   So there will be a period of the year where you'll be rushing, and that will be in a few weeks. There is time for that, and that time is in a few weeks. That's when you can start getting into all the code and filing all your bugs and filing your change requests to the new APIs.

00:28:06   There's just one little detail that kind of breaks it for you but would make it great if they did it. You have time for that, and that time is called late June. But this is now early and mid-June, and this time is for exploring and taking it in and going to the events and watching the sessions and, as Dave said, identifying new possibilities and taking a more absorbent mode for this before you get into the hardcore coding the following week.

00:28:35   Yeah, and I think it's a great opportunity just to celebrate being part of this community that I know you and I both really treasure being a part of, and it's really cool. And if you can be in person, either in Cupertino or on the developer website, they have a whole directory of in-person events that are happening all over the world.

00:28:50   So if you aren't in Cupertino, there could be something near you, and so find that. It's just cool to be part of that. It's fun to meet people. I hope and I expect every year we've gone. It is something very rewarding as we spend almost the year just talking to each other and essentially shouting into the void.

00:29:09   And it's lovely that at W3DC, the void shouts back, and we get to meet people who listen to the show and who appreciate it. And so if that's you and you see us and run into us, by all means say hi. It's always lovely to put a face to the void, and it's great just to connect, to have discussions and talk about the things that we're all mutually excited about, which we don't always get an opportunity to do.

00:29:34   Yeah, come see us if you can. If you spot us at the visitor center or whatever, I can recommend they have pretty good coffee there and usually some pretty fun snacks. Come say hi if you can, and we'll possibly see some of you next week.

00:29:48   Sounds great.

00:29:49   Thanks for listening, everybody.

00:29:50   Bye.

00:29:51   Bye.

00:29:51   You