Apple's WWDC to be online-only this year due to coronavirus

The iPhone maker's biggest event of the year, which'll still happen sometime in June, shifts online following event cancellations from Google and Facebook.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
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Apple CEO Tim Cook and designer Jony Ive at WWDC 2019.

James Martin/CNET

One of Apple's biggest events of the year is going online only, amid concerns about the novel coronavirus that's been labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Apple said its new online WWDC will allow it to connect with "millions of developers."

"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," Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a statement. Apple counts 23 million registered developers in more than 155 countries.

"We will be sharing all of the details in the weeks ahead," Schiller added. The event typically takes place in early June, but Apple hasn't yet announced exact dates for WWDC 2020. CNET's global team will cover WWDC, as well as other conferences that have shifted online, just as we always do -- by providing real-time updates, commentary and analysis you can only get here.

Apple is just the latest in a string of companies shifting or canceling events as the coronavirus has spread around the world. Other companies like the internet giants Facebook and Google have also canceled their respective developer events, which were planned for the spring. Large organizations too have scuttled their plans, including the annual SXSW music and tech festival in Texas, the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Even Disneyland shut down.

Watch this: Apple reveals new details about WWDC 2020

Apple typically uses its WWDC to announce new iOS software with expanded features for its iPhones and iPads , usually released alongside new smartphones in the fall. It also often announces new Mac software, and sometimes devices like the $5,999 Mac Pro desktop and $4,999 Apple Pro Display XDR, both unveiled at last year's event.

The company's been holding its WWDC at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center since 2017, which it moved to after outgrowing the space at San Francisco's Moscone West. Apple said it will commit $1 million to local San Jose organizations to offset revenue lost from moving to the online-only format this year.

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