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WWDC is not the only event in town, and Apple seems OK with that

Jason Snell | June 16, 2015
There was a time when Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) was a sleepy affair, with plenty of tickets available and no lines to get in to most sessions. But as Apple has grown, the event has transformed into the biggest single event on the calendar of Apple events.

Branching out from conferences for developers who are not at WWDC, this year saw the launching of the new Layers conference, organized by Jessie Char and Elaine Pow. Layers was a midweek conference pitched at designers, making it a good complement to WWDC by reaching a somewhat different, but related, audience.

Layers was held around the corner from WWDC in a new event space at the Westfield shopping mall, and the vibe was similar to that at many other Apple-themed conference I have attended, with one big difference--instead of being a small collection of interesting people off on their own, it was a small collection of interesting people in the middle of an even larger set of events.

Another interesting event, as well as an indication that we are indeed looking at the new Apple, was John Gruber's annual live version of his interview podcast, The Talk Show. In past years John has interviewed other members of the Apple community, including developers as well as fellow writers and podcasters. This year, his guest was Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller.

Apple employees are all over San Francisco during WWDC week, in bars and restaurants and both inside and outside of the Moscone West convention hall. But to see Apple's marketing chief at an outside event during WWDC week just felt... momentous, somehow. As if Apple is not just willing to allow this event to expand beyond the traditional borders of WWDC, but willing to accept, support, and even participate in it.

During the final few years of Macworld Expo, the event's organizers tried to do something clever and make the week of the event more of a festival celebrating Apple and the Apple-related community. I have been thinking about that a lot this week, because I think that it's finally happened--but around Apple's developer conference, instead.

Given the apparent success of AltConf and Layers, I suspect we may see even more events spring up around WWDC in future years, and I think it is a good thing. There is still value in a community gathering together in person, in putting faces to names and seeing people you have not seen in years, and in chatting with your voices instead of via text on Twitter or in Slack.


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