Top 10 iOS Conferences in 2016

Ray Wenderlich

Top 10 iOS Conferences in 2016

If you’re an iOS developer, you should absolutely attend at least one iOS conference a year.

This is important so that you can keep your skills up-to-date, get a fresh burst of energy for your job, and to connect with the rest of the iOS community.

Luckily, there are tons of great iOS conferences to choose from. But which should you choose?

That’s what this post is about – a list of the the Top 10 iOS Conferences in 2016! To come up with this list, I surveyed over 300 developers, reached out to specific individuals to get their input, and merged this with my own opinions.

Please remember that this article is just my own personal opinion based on what I’ve heard from team members and the community. If I miss out on a conference you really like, please add your comments to this post, so everyone else can learn about it too.

The Conferences

Without further ado, let’s dive in to the top 10 iOS conferences of 2016!

Note: These conferences are listed in no particular order.

1) WWDC and AltConf

WWDC and AltConf

By far, the #1 choice among developers is Apple’s official conference – WWDC.

The content at WWDC is great, but to me that’s not the selling point – you can always watch the videos at home. What’s great about WWDC is two things:

  • WWDC Labs: At the WWDC labs, you can meet and ask questions to Apple engineers. Come prepared with questions!
  • Socializing: WWDC is the single largest gathering of iOS developers all year, and has tons of parties and social events all week. This is a great way to connect with old friends, and make new ones.

Getting a WWDC ticket isn’t easy – in recent years there has been a lottery system, with a smaller and smaller chance of getting a “golden ticket.”

However, even if you don’t get a ticket, you should consider coming to San Francisco anyway to socialize, and to attend an independent event that happens the same week – AltConf, which has a lot of great talks by members of the iOS community.

“WWDC – I love it. Highlight of my year – so much so that I’ve already booked flights, and plan to attend AltWWDC if I don’t get a ticket. San Francisco buzzes during one of the best weather-weeks of the year thanks to the influx of tech-visitors. Don’t miss The Bash on Thursday, the Design Review sessions and the lunchtime sessions – which have been increasingly impressive the last few years.”Gemma Barlow

“WWDC is the conference that transcends all other iOS conferences. Developers from around the world make their pilgrimage to the the Moscone Center to not only hear what new devices, frameworks, and other Apple tech they’ll get this year, but to get rare face time with Apple designers and engineers. The conference is only half of the event, as during WWDC week there are countless meetups and parties for both those with and without tickets.”Erik Kerber

“For the first developer conference I’ve attended, WWDC smashed all my expectations and turned me into a blob of hype and excitement. Apple engineers in the labs are both friendly and helpful so I would highly recommend you go talk to them if you get a chance. AltConf, which takes place across the street from WWDC, featured some extremely high quality talks from several well known individuals. If you don’t win the WWDC lottery, you can attend AltConf and still catch some Apple engineers in coffee shops all around the city.”Jack Wu

“Dub-dub is amazing, exhausting, expensive, and a wonderful way to meet people. . . .However if you’re financially constrained, it may not be worth the price. The ticket alone is expensive, as are getting to and around SF. Hotels in San Francisco can be stupid expensive, kind of sketchtastic, or even both. If you’re watching your budget, it’s probably a lot more cost-efficient to buy an Apple TV, take the week off work, and watch videos as Apple puts them up to stream. You lose a lot of opportunities to talk to other people in person, but depending on your financial situation or personality type, that sacrifice may well be worth the several thousand dollars you get to hang on to instead of spending it on WWDC.”Ellen Shapiro

2) 360iDev

360iDev

Other than WWDC, 360iDev is the oldest – and biggest – iOS conference on this list.

I’ve been to 360iDev many times over the years, and always have a blast. John Wilker does a great job organizing the event, with a nice mix of technical, design, and non-technical talks – it has a little bit of everything for everyone.

“360iDev is the biggest independent iOS developer conference in the United States. If WWDC and AltConf are too spendy for you but you want a chance to reconnect with your colleagues, this is your next best bet. There are always a large variety of different talk topics. They accept a lot of first time speakers, so it’s always possible to discover someone you haven’t seen before. Plus, it’s the last remaining place for you to be able to participate in Stump the Experts.”Janie Clayton

“A fantastic conference that mixes technical talks with discussions on working as an indie. The conference is located in downtown Denver, and the hosts work hard to integrate with the local area. The workshops and keynotes are definitely worth a mention, since they alone are worth attending for. The organizers have done a huge amount for the community, and really know how to put on a fantastic conference.”Sam Davies

“360iDev is the biggest conference I go to every year. Its packed with indies and those that make up the community I love being a part of. Every year its a great chance to see old friends and make new ones while enjoying the Apple Community at large.”Ryan Poolos

3) RWDevCon

RWDevCon

Full disclosure: our team runs RWDevCon, so we’re not impartial about the matter. However, the conference did very well on the poll, is quite different from the other options, and has sold out for two years straight, so I felt its spot on the list is warranted.

RWDevCon is different than the other iOS conferences, because instead of just listening to a talk, you participate.

RWDevCon has three simultaneous tracks of hands-on programming tutorials – all highly coordinated as a team, with tech editors and multiple rounds of practice. This way, you know the end result is the high quality style you know and love from our site!

“RWDevCon offers a unique mix of hands on tutorial style sessions and insightful ‘inspiration’ talks that really do inspire. There is something for everyone, with three tracks targeting different levels of expertise in a wide range of iOS topics that really stick thanks to the tutorial format of the talks. I was able to wet my feet with game development while also exploring advanced topics relevant to my work as an enterprise developer. Due to the more intimate setting, smaller size, and amazing inspiration talks, I made a lot of great friends and truly came home feeling inspired and excited to employ what I’d learned.”Jeff Rames

“As a speaker, I saw firsthand how much preparation went into RWDevCon presentations: A whole, whole lot. What I was really impressed by as an attendee was how much that came through in the finished product – the tutorial sessions were thorough, every effort was made to make them easy for attendees to follow, and I was able to work through problems and ask questions of the speaker during the lab. The opportunity to meet many people I’d been following through the site for years in person was also really great.”Ellen Shapiro

“This was a great way of actually learning a lot about a whole host of iOS-related topics, arranged into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced tracks. In each tutorial, we worked through a topic and coded working examples along with the presenter – making it a really great way to learn. All the attendees stayed at or near the conference hotel so we generally stayed together over the 2 days. Lunch was provided on both days and the party held at the end of the first day (with food and drinks provided) was a fantastic way of getting to know everyone. Worth every penny.”Adrian Strahan

4) CocoaLove

CocoaLove

CocoaLove is another unique conference. Rather than focusing on technical talks, CocoaLove focuses on the people behind the tech.

Specifically, this means a lot of inspiration-style non-technical talks, along with some unique activities designed to help conference attendees get to know each other. If you’re looking for something a little bit different, consider giving CocoaLove a shot!

“CocoaLove is held in Philadelphia, and I *love* attending because there’s plenty of time to meet the speakers and chat in-between sessions. Talks are high quality, and there’s extra-curricular activities involved – last time a fabulous brewery tour and night-ride on a double-decker bus. The year before it was cheese steaks, a carousel and mini-golf. You’ll meet some fab indie developers here.”Gemma Barlow

“I have attended a lot of iOS conferences over the last three years. My absolute favorite conference was CocoaLove. The CocoaLove team went above and beyond to create a unique experience and showcase the venue in downtown Philadelphia. CocoaLove focuses on the iOS community as a whole more than the technology we use in our day to day lives. This created a wonderful atmosphere of friendship and acceptance where you could meet a lot of people you didn’t know initially and make friends. By focusing on the people CocoaLove created one of the most unique conference experiences I have ever had.”Janie Clayton

“You can get the latest information about developing for iOS from books, online, and from WWDC Videos. CocoaLove is a completely different experience. The presenters are top developers but they’re talking about issues we all face without presenting any code walkthroughs. It’s a friendly, intimate conference in a great setting.”Daniel Steinberg

  • When: Oct 14-16, 2016
  • Where: Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Number of Attendees: 120
  • Number of Tracks: 1
  • Team members planning to attend: Gemma Barlow, Marin Todorov
  • Websites: CocoaLove

5) CocoaConf

CocoaConf

The big selling point behind CocoaConf is they run multiple events each year, at cities all around the US – so chances are you can find one close to you. Be sure to check it out if one is nearby!

“I got my start in conference speaking at CocoaConf. The CocoaConf Tour has given me a great opportunity to travel around the US meeting a lot of awesome developers. I would not have a career if the Kleins were not doing this conference. They made it accessible for people living in places that weren’t the Bay Area to be able to afford to attend a conference. They bring top notch speakers to you so that you don’t have to travel all the way out to the West Coast to get a chance to meet awesome people like Daniel Steinberg and Jaimee Newberry. These conferences feel like family and it’s a great way to get some quality time with a prominent member of the programming community.”Janie Clayton

“CocoaConf is a great affordable iOS and Mac circuit conference managed by Dave Klein and his family. This conference comes to at least eight locations throughout the year and is something every Mac and iOS developer should try to attend. Year to year some of the presenters haven’t changed but the content is fresh and the people are fun to be with.”Aaron Douglas

“CocoaConf is a great traveling conference which allows you to learn a lot without having to travel too far from home. It’s a great way to meet other devs from your area and your region as well. I enjoyed attending for the first time in 2014 so much that I asked if I could put a talk together. Two years later, I’ve now spoken at five CocoaConfs and am about to speak at my sixth.”Ellen Shapiro

6) iOSDevUK

iOSDevUK is a conference located in a university in Wales. It is extremely technical, and its remote location encourages attendees to bond and make good friendships. A raywenderlich.com team favorite that is definitely worth checking out! :]

“A quirky conference at the edge of the world – getting there is all part of the experience of iOSDevUK. The talks are all very technically focussed and well selected. It includes some peripheral workshops which are definitely worth attending. Highly recommended if you want to catch up with the latest developments in iOS and meet up with other devs from around the UK and the rest of the world.”Sam Davies

“iOSDevUK is run on a university campus in the gorgeous, sunny town of Aberystwyth in Wales, a couple of weeks before the students return. The attendees stay together in the halls of residence, and eat together in the university’s canteen, which really promotes interaction and a sense of community. The sessions and hands-on workshops are always of the highest quality, and cover an eclectic mix of topics, so you’re guaranteed to learn something regardless of your experience. Chris and Neil do a sterling job organising things, always going above and beyond to make sure everything goes off without a hitch!”Mic Pringle

“Held over 4 days at Aberystwyth University (which provided student accommodation to keep down the cost), this conference covered a wide range of topics and ideas from a varied group of presenters. Two tracks, roughly split into technical and more generic industry best-practice ensured that there was always something interesting to learn.”Adrian Strahan

7) NSNorth

NSNorth

NSNorth is Canada’s premier iOS developer and designer conference, with a mix of both technical and non-technical talks. Attendance is usually kept small for an intimate feel.

“NSNorth is a great conference for the inhouse and indie developers. I’ve attended the conference a couple of as it has been just short hop up the road around Ottawa. This year it’s moving to Toronto and know there’s a ton of interest for devs around the GTA and NY state. There have been some great talks on promoting your apps, finding a niche, and finding your muse. It’s helped me shape my business and target my audience. I’m really looking forward to attending this year. It’s definitely on my top 3 iOS conference list. I wouldn’t miss it.”Tim Mitra

“NSNorth is one of the best conferences I have ever been to. You are likely to meet every single attendee, including the presenters, when you’re there. I’ve personally made some great friends in our community every time I attend. If top-notch speakers weren’t enough, the organizers usually plan some wonderful social events like drinks in a dinosaur museum or ‘find-the-iBeacon’.”Ryan Nystrom

8) NSSpain

NSSpain

NSSpain is a single-track conference in northern Spain with a strong focus on having fun and meeting fellow attendees.

“A thoroughly enjoyable conference with top-quality technical talks. The highlight is very much the region, food and opportunities for catching up with fellow iOS devs in a truly beautiful part of the world.”Sam Davies

“NSSpain, #Pragma Conf and UIKonf represent a trend of european conferences that I pay extra special attention to. Aside from being really awesome locations, the organizers of these conferences are willing to try a lot of new things and still provide some solid technical meat. I’ve use these three conferences as places to meet other OSS contributors for whom it can be hard to find time for face to face chat otherwise. Being able to attend any of these is such a pleasure, and I aim to attend at least one each year for as long as they keep them running!”Orta Therox

“NSSpain is easily the best event in Europe. A multi-day single-track conference in the amazing Spanish country side in the area of Rioja where the famous red wine comes from. The atmosphere is relaxed and the most famous tapas street in the world is at a convenient short walk from everywhere. A lot of extra curriculum activities and a lot of care guarantee everyone has good time. You will leave with more friends than you come with.”Marin Todorov

9) #Pragma Conference

#Pragma Mark

#Pragma Conference is a conference in Italy that has both technical and design tracks, and covers both iOS and OS X development. Another one I’ve heard great things about!

“I really enjoyed Pragma Mark. I both gave a presentation and held a workshop, so I got to meet a tonne of people. Pragma Mark was a great relaxed environment. Being held in the heart of the beautiful Milan doesn’t hurt, either. It was like an Italian version of UIKonf.”Ash Furrow

“Pragma Conference is one of the European events with the best content. Amazing workshops and stellar speakers attract audience from around the globe. The event is a fantastic opportunity to network, enjoy great food and wine, and visit Italy. The 2016 edition will take place in Verona where you can visit Julietta’s backyard where the famous scene on the balcony takes place.”Marin Todorov

  • When: October 12-14
  • Where: Verona, Italy
  • Number of Attendees: 220
  • Number of Tracks: 2
  • Team members planning to attend: Marin Todorov
  • Websites: #Pragma Conference

10) UIKonf

UIKonf

UIKonf is a single-track conference in Berlin with talks on iOS development, mobile design, and business.

This year, they have some free social events on the day before the conference, and they’re going to use them to raise donations for the refugees of the Syrian war.

“UIKonf is one of my favorite conferences, period. Drawing a crowd from all over Europe, you’ll hear talks from running an Indie business to Functional View Controllers to empathic Teaching and everything in between. You can really tell that the people behind the scenes put their heart and soul into it and it’s the best possible excuse to make a trip to Berlin.”Robb Böhnke

“UIKonf is a hidden gem of iOS conferences: it’s the best conference to actually meet and talk to other developers from around the world, and the talks focus on quality and variety rather than the list of usual suspects when it comes to presenters.”Daniel Eggert

“I spoke at UIKonf last year and I was thrilled because I knew it would be an extremely technical audience and I would be able to deliver a genuinely challenging talk about World Modeling without sparing the mathematics. If you’re one of the people constantly complaining that these other conferences are not technical enough, this is the one for you. Check out their talks on YouTube. They also have an amazing community-driven paper selection process everyone else should seek to emulate.”Mike Lee

  • When: May 22-25, 2016
  • Where: Berlin, Germany
  • Number of Attendees: 250
  • Number of Tracks: 1
  • Team members planning to attend: TBD
  • Websites: UIKonf

Honorable Mentions

As I mentioned, it was very difficult (and subjective) to put together the top 10 list this year as there are so many great conferences. I felt it would be amiss if I didn’t also include a few honorable mentions.

  • Indie DevStock: This is a brand new conference organized by women in an awesome venue in Nashville, Tennessee. Looks like this will be a blast!
  • try! Swift: This is another new conference in Tokyo, Japan organized by Natasha the Robot. Knowing Natasha, this should be great.
  • Swift Summit: This single-track conference had a London and SF event last year, focused on quick talks on the Swift Language. A great event if you’re in the area!

Which Should I Choose?!

If you’re unsure which to choose, here’s my advice – in a handy flowchart!

Best iOS Conferences in 2016

[Click to see full-size version]

Again, note that this article is my personal opinion only and is based on what I’ve heard from team and community members who have attended these conferences.

Huge thank you to all who took the time to send me their thoughts and quotes about the conferences you attended for this post – I really appreciate it! :]

We’d love to hear your opinion too! Please let us know about your experiences at any iOS conferences you attended in 2016 – it will be really helpful for those trying to decide which to attend.

We hope to see you at some iOS conferences this year!

Ray Wenderlich

Ray is part of a great team - the raywenderlich.com team, a group of over 100 developers and editors from across the world. He and the rest of the team are passionate both about making apps and teaching others the techniques to make them.

When Ray’s not programming, he’s probably playing video games, role playing games, or board games.

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