Apple's iPhone tech talks are incredible. The format consists of instructional presentations akin to what developers would find at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). But while WWDC lasts an entire week, tech talks are limited to a single day of sessions which Apple takes on the road, presenting in hotel conference rooms around the world.
On December 1, I attended the New York City tech talk, at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. The event attracted developers from all over the northeast of the United States (and beyond), because the number of cities Apple takes the tour to is pretty limited. Many folks traveling to New York City end up paying quite a bit for travel and lodging expenses, but that is greatly offset by another impressive aspect of the talks: they are completely free. Developers have to sign up early and then hope for acceptance, but if you're admitted, the entire thing is paid for including lunch, snacks and a wine reception at the end of the day. Very classy, Apple.
While many of the talks at WWDC are given by developers who actually write the code for libraries we developers depend upon, the majority of presenters at the tech talk are given by Apple's technology evangelism team. These folks are technically very knowledgeable about the Mac and iPhone, but they also live up to their titles as evangelists. Their mission is to sell developers on the virtues of Apple's various technologies, and it works. I left the talk feeling completely inspired to dig into my somewhat dormant iPhone projects. The mood among other developers in attendance was very similar.
In some ways I prefer the tech talks to WWDC. The content at the tech talk is laser focused and seems to be more refined than at WWDC. I imagine Apple scratching their heads to fill up the long schedule at WWDC, leading to a situation where some talks and some speakers will inevitably be sub-par. By contrast, I imagine the limited one day schedule of the tech talks forces Apple to ruthlessly determine the most important, highest priority information they want to convey, and then iterate on the best way of delivering it.
Since New York's event fell later in the tour's schedule, I bet we benefited from the team having plenty of practice runs through their talks in other cities. ALthough the presentations felt very much like well-rehearsed performances, the team made it a priority to be personable and engaging with the audience. It was a pleasure to be among their guests in New York, and I hope they'll come back next year for another visit.