WWDC Videos Watching Guide 📺

From the point of view of a developer, technical sessions and labs are probably the most interesting parts of WWDC conference. While labs, for obvious reasons, are available only for attendees, sessions can be viewed by anyone on the official Apple’s website.

That being said, the amount of time needed to watch all sessions can be overwhelming. There are more than 100 sessions each year and every one of them lasts about 40 minutes. That gives us around 66 hours of content.

In this article I would like to present some WWDC videos watching tips & tricks which I learned while watching sessions from the past three WWDC conferences. I hope that this guide will help other people to make the most of this amazing event.

Please note that some parts of this article are subjective and the whole text presents my opinion.

WWDC Schedule

There are 113 events with videos planned for WWDC 2016. That number includes Keynote and Platforms State of the Union presentations. Both of them usually give an inside into the changes that will be introduced during the rest of the conference so it’s normally a good idea to watch them both.

There is also an Apple Design Awards event which you can probably skip and wait for its summaries which are published every year by Apple related sites. An example of Apple Design Awards summary from 2015 published by MacRumors site can be found here.

The rest of 110 sessions are mostly technical ones. They are divided into 8 tracks: featured, app frameworks, distribution, developer tools, media, graphics and games, system frameworks, design. Take advantage of this fact. Focus on videos from the categories which overlap the most with your daily work duties or/and interests.

How to Choose Which Sessions You Should Watch? 👀

There are no simple answers here. Points below present ideas that can help you decide which sessions you should watch but bear in mind that they don’t work for everyone.

  1. “What’s New in…” sessions are a great point to start with. They present overall view on the changes introduced in the newest versions of frameworks and tools. They usually have a great number of references to more detailed sessions that can help you decide which videos you can watch next. Improvements to APIs that are presented during these sessions usually turn out to be great takeaways.

    The examples of this kind of sessions:

  2. Videos presenting new technologies, especially frameworks and tools, are also worth watching. They are interesting and allow you to learn about technologies, about which clients will ask you in a couple of weeks anyway. 🙃 Watch them and you won’t be caught by a surprise!

  3. Follow social media. Recommendations from people you observe are usually quite valuable and should be considered as important indicators. Remember, you follow them for a reason. 😉 Twitter and RSS are great sources of information about the most popular sessions. They also give you an opportunity to find out about interesting videos which you could miss or ignore otherwise.

Should You Watch All Sessions?

In most cases there is no need for you to watch all sessions. The important part is to make conscious decisions when it comes to videos you don’t watch. Check titles of all available sessions and only then decide which ones you skip. This will allow you to avoid situation in which you miss interesting video simply because you don’t know about it.

Tools That Can Help 🛠

It’s always good to have the right tool for the job. Watching WWDC session is time-consuming and even the smallest improvements to the process can help significantly.

Browsing and Tracking Progress

I use WWDC unofficial OS X app to browse available sessions and read their descriptions.

Screenshot from unofficial WWDC OS X app

It has a couple of really handy features:

  1. Powerful search functionality.
  2. Interface elements that allow you to watch sessions or read slides with only one click.
  3. Ability to mark sessions as favorite.
  4. Ability to mark sessions as watched.
  5. Filtering by displaying only videos that belong to specified tracks. 1
  6. Filtering by displaying only videos related to the platforms in which you are interested.
  7. Possibility to work with WWDC sessions from previous years (starting from 2012).

I mainly use search, filtering and ability to mark videos as watched.

Don’t underestimate search. 🔍 Not only does it give you the possibility to search for sessions using their titles and descriptions, but it also looks for specified keywords in transcripts of the talks. 2 It even provides you with an option to start watching video right in a place when an occurrence of the used keyword appears.

There is also an official WWDC app for iOS which is optimized for both, iPhone and iPad. It’s great if you prefer mobile experience.

Screenshot from official WWDC iOS app

Actual Watching

I use VLC as my video player. Its ability to adjust the speed of playback is a killer feature for me. I usually watch sessions at about 1.20x of the normal speed and I’m able to follow presentations without any problems. It allows me to save 8 minutes per every 40-minute long video.

VLC Playback menu

Conclusion

Not being an attendee of WWDC conference doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of it. By publishing videos from sessions, Apple gives every developer an opportunity to learn tons of stuff which usually cannot be found elsewhere. As a number of published resources is huge, it’s good to make conscious decisions about the videos you watch and the way you do it.


  1. Sessions are divided into 8 tracks: featured, app frameworks, distribution, developer tools, media, graphics and games, system frameworks, design.
  2. Speaking of transcripts, ASCI WWDC site contains full text transcipts for all sessions from a couple of the last WWDC conferences.