Jason Snell, writing at Macworld:
In terms of a keynote, Apple has several options. It can invite a small number of guests to a live media event at the Steve Jobs Theater — possibly with health checks for attendees — and make its major WWDC announcements in the same way it unveils the new iPhone every year. I kind of can’t imagine Apple doing a keynote without a live studio audience of some kind, but it’s possible it could limit the guest list even further, perhaps just to Apple employees. They’ll certainly provide the applause that’s required.
What’s left of WWDC, however, is the connections.
If WWDC is canceled, I think what Snell proposes is exactly what will happen. There will still be a keynote wherein Apple does what it always does: lays out the roadmap for its platforms for the next year. If the COVID-19 outbreak is under control by June, I’d expect a keynote at Steve Jobs Theater pretty much exactly of the scope of September iPhone events. Technical sessions would simply all be virtual, distributed via the Developer app. Apple probably has to make a decision on holding the conference as usual by mid-April, but for a press-only keynote they typically don’t send invitations until 10 days or so in advance.
The one thing that can’t be replicated virtually are the personal connections. Snell mentions the developer labs — which are incredibly useful to developers — and suggests maybe Apple could do them virtually via FaceTime or something. I don’t know if that would work. But there are all sorts of personal and social interactions that happen during WWDC week, and there’s no way to replace them. And WWDC is now the only annual event on the Apple community calendar. But it is what it is.
★ Tuesday, 3 March 2020