Impressions of WWDC, the Developers’ Family Get-Together

Ulysses co-founder Max Seelemann has been a developer for Apple platforms for his entire professional life – and a participant of Apple’s World Wide Developers conference for almost as long. Here he explains why WWDC is worth a developer’s while, and shares his thoughts about Apple’s announcements and this year’s Design Award winners.


Marcus, Friedrich and Max at WWDC
Marcus, Friedrich and Max at WWDC

You have just returned from Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference in San Jose, California. What was it like?

WWDC has always been an intense experience, and this year’s conference didn’t make an exception. There are a lot of news and information to process in only four days – it is exciting, but also demanding. On the other hand, WWDC is also great fun. Having been there for ten times, I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the other attendees during the last years. In this regard, the conference feels like a family get-together, which happens once every year.

What can developers gain from the conference? Why should they go there?

As a developer for Apple platforms, you’ll get in-depth and first-hand information of high relevance for your daily work, just as you would expect. However, what’s even more important in my opinion are the additional benefits you won’t get anywhere else. For one, the aforementioned get-together of developers from all over the world: There simply is no other place on earth where you can meet so many like-minded, talented people at once. Second, WWDC is the very opportunity to get in personal contact with Apple engineers and discuss any issues you may have. Getting certain difficult (and not-so-difficult) questions answered is considerably easier when you’re talking to the person who created the software. Last but not least, you can reach out to Apple’s developer relations representatives and App Store managers in person. That’s great for resolving issues and keeping in touch, which is very important for indie developers like us.

What do you think about Apple’s announcements at WWDC 2017? Did they meet your expectations?

Apple had not held a keynote presentation since October 2016. After their minor announcements in the week before the conference, it was clear that they would have a lot to talk about. Even with that in mind, I was positively surprised by the quantity and quality of their announcements. It’s good to see that this year was not all about iPhone and Music – which both are great! –, but also much about iPad and Mac, two platforms that were often diagnosed as having received too little attention in the past.

Which one is, in your opinion, the most significant news? And which will – sooner or later – affect Ulysses users?

This year is certainly about iPad. With iOS 11, a lot of new interactions will become available, and iPad will turn into a truly powerful computing platform. The new drag & drop will facilitate the use of many apps, Ulysses among them. I also think this is going to be the feature with the greatest long-term impact, by truly changing the way people work on the go, and making more people choose an iPad as their only computer.

As every year at WWDC, a selection of apps and games were honored with the Apple Design Award. What do you think about the winners of 2017 – is it a good vintage?

First off, I’d like to congratulate all winners of the Apple Design Award 2017! Well done!

This year’s winners are a really great selection. I am especially proud of two German, two Italian and one Austrian developer receiving an award – Europe has been killing it this year! Also, seeing three productivity apps – Bear, Things and AirMail – winning is a great accomplishment for the developers and a strong positive sign from Apple recognizing serious applications.

Last question: You received an Apple Design Award for Ulysses yourself in 2016. What could possibly top this? What are your future plans for Ulysses?

There is a story behind every app that wins this award, and it usually includes hard work, perseverance, belief in a vision, and strong focus on quality and usability. This is also the story of Ulysses receiving the Apple Design Award in 2016. A year later, nothing has changed in this regard. There are a few great improvements for Ulysses in the making, and we’re working on it with the same passion and dedication as before. Our goal still is to make the best possible writing app for everyone, and we have way to go. Our greatest reward have always been our users, who are using the app with the same love that we put into its creation. And who knows? Things got it, Djay got it – maybe in a few years we will also get a second Design Award ;-)

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Rebekka Honeit

Blog-curating writing maniac and public relations person. Loves coffee, chocolate cookies and literature. Finds peace in tweaking press copy.