Coronavirus outbreak: Apple cancels on-ground WWDC 2020 event, commits $15 million to COVID-19 response

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Updated: March 14, 2020 2:03 PM

Apple is also practicing due diligence with regards to health screenings and temperature checks of its employees. 

Of course, Apple does all this on-ground, usually in San Jose, California.

Cupertino-based Apple has announced that its most high-profile event of the year, aka Worldwide Developers Conference or WWDC 2020, “will take on an entirely new online format,” in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Apple isn’t out with the dates just yet, but said, it will host WWDC 2020 in June – as is usually the norm. Apple has also announced that it is “temporarily closing all stores outside of Greater China until March 27 and committing $15 million to help with worldwide recovery.”

Apple usually hosts a keynote on the opening day of WWDC where it talks about all things software, from iOS to tvOS, the sort of things that would set the tone for the rest of the year. The floor is then opened up, for the next few days, for developers (and enthusiasts) to gain insights into Apple software as well as lay the groundwork for how they’ll make best use of all this through apps – existing and new ones that may be under development. In the words of Apple, WWDC is “an opportunity for millions of creative and innovative developers to get early access to the future of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS, and engage with Apple engineers as they work to build app experiences that enrich the lives of Apple customers around the globe.”

Of course, Apple does all this on-ground, usually in San Jose, California. But things are different this year with the novel Coronavirus wrecking havoc across the world – it’s now a pandemic, as per the WHO – taking down one tech event after another as a precautionary measure to avoid potential spread. Google has already cancelled its I/O 2020 developers conference, Microsoft has cancelled Build 2020, and Facebook isn’t hosting F8 2020 on-ground either.

“The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world. We will be sharing all of the details in the weeks ahead,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said in a statement.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has further announced that the company is closing all its physical retail stores until March 27 and “moving to flexible work arrangements worldwide” outside of Greater China to minimize risk. While it isn’t making work from home “mandatory,” for all employees outside China, Apple says, “team members should work remotely if their job allows, and those whose work requires them to be on site should follow guidance to maximize interpersonal space.” Apple is also practicing due diligence with regards to health screenings and temperature checks of its employees.

Lastly, Apple is committing $15 million worldwide “to help treat those who are sick and to help lessen the economic and community impacts of the pandemic.” Apple is also committing $1 million to local San Jose organizations that would have otherwise gained revenue had Cupertino have held an on-ground event for WWDC 2020.

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