Apple’s 2020 WWDC conference moves online amid COVID-19 outbreak

WWDC is the latest in a string of tech conferences to be cancelled or shifted to a digital format

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Apple has announced that its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is moving to an entirely online format instead of an in-person event amid concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.

WWDC, which has been held in San Jose, California for the last few years, is typically where the tech giant announces new versions of macOS, tvOS, iPadOS, iOS and macOS, along with new Mac and MacBook devices. Apple also holds workshops hosted by Apple employees for app developers at the conference.

The tech giant says that it is donating $1 million USD (roughly 1.3 CAD) to organizations in San Jose to help with the losses expected from the event no longer taking place in the city this year.

Thousands of developers and hundreds of media from several countries around the world typically attend WWDC.

“We are delivering WWDC 2020 this June in an innovative way to millions of developers around the world, bringing the entire developer community together with a new experience,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, in a press release. “The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world. We will be sharing all of the details in the weeks ahead.”

It’s unclear when WWDC’s new online format will take place or what workshops will be offered. Likely, the tech giant will still hold some sort of opening keynote, though it will likely be pre-recorded and streamed online. The Cupertino, California-based company says that more information regarding WWDC’s “all-new online format” will be shared between now and June.

Rumours have been circulating for the last few weeks that Apple is preparing to launch a refreshed version of its 13-inch MacBook that features a larger 14.1-inch display and its new scissor switch keyboard. Given there’s a possibility COVID-19 has pushed back the laptop’s manufacturing as well as likely its reveal, it could be some time before Apple opts to release it. The most recent rumours indicated that the 14.1-inch MacBook Pro would launch by June.

Other major tech-related events have also shifted to an online format amid concerns surrounding COVID-19, including Microsoft’s Build conference and Google I/O. On the other hand, some events have been cancelled entirely, including E3, Mobile World Congress and Facebook F8.