Well, sadly the day came when this whole WWDC thing wrapped up for me. While WWDC continues on Friday (Day 5) until the early afternoon, I had to catch a flight back to the east cost (6am flight!).
After the first few days, things sort of fell into a routine, as oft things do – or as they are oft to do? Breakfast in the hotel, more snacks after arriving (oh how tight those jeans feel!) and then sessions in the morning, followed by lunch with 2,000 people staring at their Macs, and then afternoon sessions followed by an evening event. Interspersed were labs with face-to-face meetings with smart and friendly Apple engineers.
On the final night, the Apple Big Bash event was a walk to a nearby park that was filled with Cornhole games, food, drinks and…. a private concert by Fallout Boy.
Before Fallout boy came on stage, a DJ pumped out an odd mix of dance music, including Head on the Door by the Cure, which was released before nearly all of these kids were born. One thing that shocked me was the loudness of the music. 120 decibels right in front of the stage. I’ve been to some loud concerts (Van Halen! Billy Squier! ) but this was jarringly loud. A quick search showed that 120 decibels is the sound level of a jack hammer and can cause hearing damage after about 30 seconds. But these kids stood in front of the speakers, dancing away.
I asked an audio guy for some spare earplugs from a “jug” of them he had. He obliged, adding “yep, it’s louder’n shit”.
The food was good. Scanning the crowd, there were a large number of loners, sitting quietly and balancing their drinks on their lap. That is one odd take for this conference – there didn’t seem to be any “team building” or “get to know someone” event. Some companies were lucky to have two or three people attending, who knew each other. But there was a large number of people who clearly didn’t know anyone (that group included me). I did notice on the way out that bioluminescent Cornhole (glow in the dark, likely not “bio”) did attract people playing together.
Fallout Boy ran out on stage around 8:15pm and played “louder’n shit” as well. I recognized a few songs, including their most recent Uma Thurman song, that lifts the catchy riff from the Munster’s TV show. They also reminded the audience that they provided the main theme for Big Hero 6. Another pretty good tune was American Beauty (American Psycho). Patrick Stump on lead vocals certainly can belt out a tune. It’s a four man group that’s more punk/dance than rock.
Walking back to my car, I could still hear Fallout Boy five blocks away. I’m flying back home in time to see Hall and Oates (with Tears for Fears). I’m hoping they don’t play at 120 db.
Conference Wrap Up
I’ll keep this in the quick-take genre, and avoiding the information I’ve already provided in previous end-of-day wrap-ups.
The conference was best when engineers were available face-to-face. As noted, all of the sessions are/will be online so you won’t miss much by not going to them personally. For the first few days I took an insane amount of notes and then realized that all I needed were some reminders to re-check out the video online. If I’m lucky enough to go next year, I’ll spend more time in the labs.
There were some interesting lunchtime sessions, including the woman (and the dancers) that came up with the iLuminate product that’s been seen on America’s Got Talent and off-broadway shows. She discussed how she used Apple’s platform and some pretty cool wearable hardware configurations for her dancers. And another session by Todd Stabelfeldt, founder of C4 Consulting, who has lived with quadriplegia since the age of 8. He explained how he uses technology to make his life easier. There was a lunch session by Dr. Christine Darden, who started her career in 1967 at NASA’s Langley Research Center as one of a pool of African-American female mathematicians whose talent earned them the nickname of ‘human computers’. The movie ‘Hidden Figures’s is based on her and her female co-workers NASA research.
The Tim Cook experience was good, but having seen videos of Steve Jobs doing the same, ol’ Jobs had a better knack for generating excitement. The iPad, Mac laptop and iMac updates were all reasonably impressive. The HomePod announcement was a bit of a head-scratcher when you look at the features, but under Tim Cook Apple is good at planting products out there that initially underwhelm but that ultimately form a key part of their ecosystem. When I was gifted an Apple Watch two years ago, at first it was just a watch. Now I find it almost indispensable and feel like I’m in manual mode when I don’t have it.
I’ve not been to a comparable Microsoft event in over a decade, and I’ve never been to a Google one so I can’t tell if they are similar. I suppose I can check out their online videos. For Apple, it was oddly reassuring to hear them having spent time reworking some of their core platforms and being “all in” with Swift. It’s making me consider rewriting my pet-project (BandStar) server from C++ to Swift (like my iOS app). And Xcode seems to rival the heydays of my Visual Studio 6 experience. It certainly runs circles around NetBeans and Eclipse in terms of features, but mostly speed.
It also never occurred to me (until a UX engineer pointed out) that an iPhone 7 in landscape mode is the same width as the larger iPad Pro in portrait. When you line up all the platforms and sizes, they make sense. There’s thought put into the overall Apple product line and technical specs. For Android, it appears that it’s just every platform provider creating the size and density devices they feel are useful to them, or that outdo the competition, without considering the bevy of other devices that a developer has to support.
Some final notes about WWDC –
- Make sure you attend the labs and talk to engineers.
- Make sure you sit through the lunch presentations rather than sit in Hall 1 by yourself, staring at your computer while you eat a cold sandwich.
- Find time to go outside on sunny days and enjoy the fantastic weather.
I hope this series has provided some useful information should you find yourself selected to attend WWDC ’18.