For those loyal to Apple and Mac, WWDC is The Viewing event. Even more so than the annual fall event, the WWDC keynote where Apple often makes big announcements that affect developers, users and the industry. WWDC Keynote displays later versions of MacOS, and Apple often releases major Mac hardware developments that go hand in hand with the latest software features.
WWDC We know it started in 1990; In previous years, it was a small event called DevCon or Apple World. Just a few days away with WWDC 2022, we thought we’d go over the top Mac moments in WWDC Keynote history (listed in chronological order except the last one, and you’ll see why). Overall, these moments have a theme: change is inevitable.
WWDC 1997: Steve Jobs returns, the origins of OS X.
The original WWDC 1997 speech was not a well-known presentation for Apple. It was a Q&A session between Jobs and the developers audience and Jobs was quite open with his thinking. At one point, he said, “Apple has been suffering for years due to poor engineering management,” and “not being focused.” He talks about cloud computing, his “holy war” with Microsoft, and his vision of prioritizing customer demand over technological magic. Towards the end of the discussion, Jobs even outlined a technical implementation that could be interpreted as his vision for the iPhone.
It was an important moment. When Apple bought Next Computer in December 1996 and Steve Jobs returned to Apple, Apple decided to use Next technology as the core of the upcoming Mac operating system. It was a decision that created a lot of tension in the developer community. Many of the tasks that the developers had previously planned for the Mac operating system were largely useless. And as Mac’s market share shrunk year after year, the question was whether the market was effective enough to cope with technological change.
This keynote is an interesting watch, especially since we now have that backdrop. If you are vaguely familiar with Jobs and his role with Apple, this will help you understand why he is so respected.
WWDC 2002: RIP Mac OS 9
With the introduction of OS X, Apple has decided to end development of the “classic” Mac OS (earlier versions of OS X). During the keynote address, Steve Jobs praised the program, praising Mac OS 9. I actually think it’s a bit worthy now, but it was all a joke and a reminder that Apple is always looking forward and not wasting time on past technologies.
WWDC 2003: 3GHz Commitment
Some entries in this list are complete keynotes, others are large portions of keynotes. But 2003 is truly a memorable moment in a WWDC keynote speech. In 2003, Steve Jobs released the Power Mac G5, which used a PowerPC G5 processor, and towards the end, he meant that this Mac would have a 3GHz CPU within a year. That didn’t happen, which led to our next memorable WWDC key moment.
WWDC 2005: Intel Transition begins
At WWDC 2005, 3GHz was the holy grail for CPU speeds, and Mac’s PowerPC chips couldn’t get there. Apple has hit a ceiling that switches from a PowerPC chip to an Intel Silicon Cell, a significant step forward for the Mac.
Apple realized that this switch would be historic in one of two ways: a successful business decision that could become a benchmark for how it was made, or a choice that performed such a bad job that it virtually killed the Mac. The company had to find a way to implement PowerPC and build a bridge between the new Intel-based Mac. No other platform has done such a great job, and it will be an industry first. Everyone watched.
In the keynote address, Steve Jobs took the time to explain why the switch was needed and how it would happen. Paul Otellini, who was Intel’s CEO, talked about the Apple-Intel relationship, and even joked about an Apple ad that ridiculed Intel’s famous rabbit man. The keynote helped reassure Mac users and developers that Apple had a plan — and it turned out that the plan worked so well that a similar plan was used for the next conversion 15 years later.
WWDC 2020: Apple Silicon Transformation Begins
The rebirth of Apple’s current Mac began a few years ago, and WWDC 2022 was officially announced during the keynote address. The company will spend the next two years replacing the Intel chip with Mac’s own Silicon. At the time, it was clear that the CISC-based technology used in Intel chips was going to hit the wall in terms of performance unless drastic changes were made. Apple was successful on the iPhone and iPad with its own A-Series processor, so its ARM-based chips work for the Mac.
It was an announcement that was equally exciting and disturbing. It was exciting to think that Mac, who was stuck in a rut, could find new life. But Apple had real concerns about properly shutting it down. Two years later, the Mac has reached new heights that were previously imagined.
WWDC 2021: Universal Control
Due to the WWDC 2020 Covid-19 epidemic, featuring the first pre-recorded keenote with an all-virtual audience. WWDC 2021 followed as the epidemic was still in full swing. While the power of a live event is missing, it has been replaced by an onslaught of new features for each operating system, one after the other at an astonishing pace.
After 81 minutes of irresistible announcements for iOS, AirPods, iPadOS, Privacy, iCloud, Health, watchOS and Home in the keynote of 2021, Apple has taken a breath to showcase Universal Control, a new feature of MacOS Monterey that lets you use a Mac. To control iPad or other Mac. It was such a great show that people watched it over and over again until the feature came out eight months later.
WWDC 2006, 2013, 2019 (and possibly 2022): Mac Pro
Of particular interest to Mac Pro developers who need horsepower to create software. So the company made a point at WWDC to unveil its most powerful Mac. Apple has unveiled three different Mac Pros at WWDC and it seems appropriate to collect them as a “moment”.
Although each revelation is significant in its own right. 2006 was the first Mac Pro, an Intel-based tower that replaced the Power Mac G5. It had an aluminum “cheese greater” design that became iconic but was eventually replaced in 2013 by a less-than-ideal “trash can” design. Apple finally took ownership for the failure of the Mac Pro in 2013 and in 2019, released a new Mac Pro with a modern aluminum tower design that is back in the cheese Greater.
The Mac Pro is set for another commemorative upgrade, and is expected to be released at WWDC later this year. It’s one of the last Macs to upgrade to Apple Silicon, and users are excited about the possibility of Apple’s top-of-the-line Mac. This is sure to be a memorable WWDC key moment.