3 June 2019

For most people, the WWDC keynote is the main event of the week: a time where Apple officially announces its software intentions for the year ahead.

This year, having the pleasure to attend the keynote in person meant I had to make the most of every second of it.

It started off at 4:30am with a quick shower and Uber to the convention center. By 5am a queue had already formed with over 500 people who had beat me to it. A member of the Apple team suggested a few had actually camped the night in order to obtain front row seats.

With 5 hours to wait before the Keynote start, Apple demonstrated its experience and crowd management within WWDC by periodically moving us throughout the convention center in ‘batches’ of a few hundred. We started out in the convention centre square, where by 6am loud Music heard in Apple adverts blasted out into the street. Unlike the rest of the week, the ‘dub dub d-c’ slogan that wrapped the buildings entrance lit up with animated neon lights, only adding to the excitement and awe of Apple. ‘Cheer-men and women’ raised the moral by getting the lines excited for the announcements: running up and down the lines and exciting ‘crowd waves’ and ‘dub dub d-c’ chanting.

An hour in and we were ushered further into the building: upstairs where we were greeted with a wall of 20 to 30 Apple employees all wearing blue Apple T-shirts: chanting, clapping and bouncing on the spot with so extreme energy. They directed us up the hall and into another ‘holding pen’. This time, along one long edge were rows of breakfast items: a selection of fruits, juices, muffins, coffee and pastries. Apple had considered how to feed 5000 people, whilst getting them to queue and move throughout the building at the same time.

60 minutes before the Keynote, the scholarship winners, visitors requiring special assistance and under 18’s were escorted in to the hall first. This then followed by each of the 15-20 “holding pens” containing anxious and excited developers of all ages.

The event hall was massive – comprised of three smaller (yet still large) rooms who’s walls retracted to create a single larger space: the room was packed with over 5000 seats, at least 20 deep from the stage. Five super massive screens, three in the centre, and two either side of the stage, dominated the room: playing a waiting animation in the theme of WWDC19 “write code, blow minds” slogan. Camera men prepared for the event, whilst a DJ kept the crowd entertained with beat heavy tunes.

The seating was arranged so that VIPs occupied the first two rows center of stage; followed by several rows of scholarship winners, press (who were lucky enough to be given power socket under each seat) and finally designated staff. For those that had camped out over night or queued in the early hours of the morning, their front row seats started somewhat back from the stage, but still much closer than everyone else who would need to use the screens in order to make out what’s going on stage.

It took close to the full hour before the lights dimmed and Tim Apple (I mean Cook… an in joke they throw around here at Apple) walked out on stage. The crowd cheered and the event was underway.

I won’t be covering what was covered in the keynote here, instead checkout a later post called Apple’s Announcements for the key software takeaways not only from the keynote but also from what I learned from the daily sessions, labs and talks throughout the week.

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