Commentary: One reporter's journey through Apple's big developers conference.
In 1999, less than a year after joining CNET, I went to my first big Apple event. The difference with today's WWDC is astounding. Here's a look through my eyes at Apple's big event to try to get programmers to build the apps that make its hardware useful.
Apple has branched out far beyond the Mac. At this week's developers conference, Apple touted five operating systems: MacOS 10.15, iOS 13, WatchOS 6, TVOS 13, and for the first time, iPadOS.
Back in 1999, I watched as CEO Steve Jobs announced Mac OS X Server 1.0, the operating system Apple calls MacOS today. Mobile devices make that news ancient history. At WWDC 2019, Jobs' replacement, Tim Cook, announced that WatchOS apps no longer need help from iPhones.
And yet, WatchOS is based on the iPhone's iOS, which in turn stemmed from 1999's Mac OS X. That last photo was of Apple Watch leader Kevin Lynch, whom I first met as Adobe's chief technology officer.
I've been to countless tech trade shows, and some things never change: ugly carpets, dismal Wi-Fi, the panicky search for power outlets. This Apple show is different, starting with abundant staff who actually can tell you where to go.
I haven't been to a WWDC for years, and it's a first for plenty of attendees. Upon arrival, Apple's neon-graphic theme highlighted the show's "dub dub" nickname. I roll my eyes at the term -- it's always seemed a somewhat forced cutesiness but a term the Apple in-crowd is expected to use.
Also unusual: fast, painless press check-in at WWDC.
One of my worst trade show moments was being nearly crushed to death in 2011 as thousands of Mobile World Congress attendees tried to see then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. WWDC attracts hundreds of journalists, but the scrum is better organized.
Thousands of developers lined up to see WWDC's opening keynote.
Apple hopes UV lighting will give the keynote rave-like excitement entering the hall.
Apple lets people get settled well ahead of time -- smart, given the thousands and thousands of attendees. Apple staff try to excite people with claps, the wave and chants -- "Dub dub! DC!"
You want Wi-Fi? Tough luck. So does everyone else.
A decade ago, Jobs -- emaciated due to health issues and following a liver transplant -- announced iOS 3.1. Now we're up to iOS 13. I photographed that "9/9/9" Apple event on September 9, 2009, for CNET's coverage because our regular photographer was traveling. Boy, was that stressful.
I went to WWDC in 2005, too, when Apple announced its Macs would switch from PowerPC processors to Intel's rival chips -- a scoop I'd published the Friday before. Apple's hulking Intel-powered Mac Pro made me think it's not racing for the next rumored Mac switch to Arm processors.
A big WWDC moment was the debut of iPadOS, a variation of iOS to handle things like bigger screens and better productivity. I use my iPad Pro for that daily, so they're speaking to me. Here, Apple software chief Craig Federighi shows all the split-screen swiping gestures I hope I'll be able to figure out.
Federighi is a joker, and even if he's as scripted as all the other execs, the developers lap it up. Here's his punchline to the idea of stuffing email, calendar and even an app dock into Apple's famously bloated iTunes software.
We've got five Apple platforms now. But even with iPadOS arriving and WatchOS fledging, iOS is the most important given the iPhone's balance of power and portability.
Keynote done? Quick, check your email. (I did, too.)
And stay hydrated.
Apple, trying to get developers excited about augmented reality, offered a Swift Strike bowling game. Nobody dropped their iPad.
Apple gives developers hundreds of seats to plug in laptops -- and Ethernet cables to download the new beta software.
Lime and Bird electric scooters were abundant at WWDC 2019 in San Jose, California.
Apple logos for machine learning, the Swift programming language, ARKit tools for augmented reality and the App Store.
My blah trade show turkey sandwich. Maybe at WWDC 2020 Apple will think different.