Apple announces online-only WWDC 2020 due to coronavirus spread

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Apple has announced that this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference will be held online due to the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus. Apple says the event, to start on an unspecified date in June, will feature a “completely new online experience” that includes both Apple’s traditional announcement keynote and developer sessions.

The decision to move WWDC online was made due to the “current health situation,” Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said in a statement. More details on the event will be shared in the “weeks ahead.”

In recent years, the event has been held in San Jose. Apple will donate $1 million to San Jose organizations to make up for the fact that such a large event won’t be taking place this year.

Typically, WWDC begins with a keynote to showcase the next versions of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS, and Apple dedicates the rest of the week to on-site sessions about developing for its platforms. But the company is taking a different approach this year holding those sessions and the keynote online. That could help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, and create social distancing, which could prevent people from coming into contact with others who might be sick.

We already have a few clues about some new software features Apple may announce, though, thanks to leaked builds of iOS 14 obtained by 9to5Mac and MacRumors. For iOS, Apple is apparently building a new fitness app, a “PencilKit” API that allows for handwriting recognition in text input fields, iMessage features like @-tagging and unsending messages, and improved mouse cursor support. watchOS 7 will reportedly get sleep tracking and a new country flag watchface, and the Apple Watch may soon be able to detect blood oxygen levels. The company may also let users set third-party web browsers and email clients as the defaults, reports Bloomberg.

Google has already canceled the in-person portion of its big developer show, Google I/O. Facebook has done the same for F8, as has Microsoft for Build. E3, SXSW, the Game Developers Conference, and Mobile World Congress have also been canceled because of coronavirus.