Update 10/8/14: Good news – we are running our own conference in 2015, focused on high quality iOS and Swift tutorials – great for both beginner and advanced iOS developers. Check it out: RWDevCon: The Tutorial Conference!
Conference season is upon us!
It’s a great year to be an iOS developer. Besides initiatives like Cocoaheads, which organizes monthly meetings around the world, there are many cool conferences where you can meet iOS developers and speakers from around the world.
Many members of the raywenderlich.com team are regular speakers, or attendees, at conferences — both to stay up-to-date and meet new people. It’s one of the reasons you can count on our publications to be fresh and relevant.
Here’s our list of the top iOS 10 conferences in 2014. The list comes from on our team members’ firsthand experiences, which means at least one of the team has either attended or been (or will be) a speaker. For each one, you’ll find a short description, commentary about the past edition from our team members, and who you might find at each event in 2014.
Get ready for the list of conferences – plus a handy flowchart to help you choose which to attend!
Without further ado, here’s the list! Note they are not in any particular order.
WWDC is organized by Apple to as a conference for iOS developers. Typically, they announce the new version of iOS and its new features (last year they announced iOS 7). The conference is usually five days long, and there are numerous sessions presented by Apple engineers, where you can learn details about the upcoming versions iOS and Mac OS X.
The real bonus is that you can attend labs, where you can often speak to the author of the frameworks you use day to day! Prepare your questions, they are ready to answer.
WWDC is in San Francisco, the capital of the tech scene. Tickets are usually around $1,600 + travel expenses (and tickets are tricky to get), but well worth it if you’re a serious developer. During that week, the city is literally invaded by developers, so you’ll be in good company. It’s probably the best opportunity of the year to socialize with designers, developers, bloggers and pretty much anybody in the mobile ecosystem that you talk to via email or Twitter. During this special week you can meet them face to face!
Since local companies and meetups are aware of the Apple invasion during that week, there’s usually “satellite events” (like altwwdc in 2013), where you can mingle with some of the sharpest guys and gals in the community.
Looking to let your hair down? There are probably more parties during that week than on New Year’s Eve!
Companies that make products for the mobile industry, even if not headquartered near the Bay Area, typically organize a party in the style of Apple’s Beer Bash. It’s another opportunity to get to know your fellow developers in a more casual setting.
- When: TBA, it usually happens mid-June.
- Where: TBA, it’s usually held at Moscone Center in San Francisco.
- Team members planning to attend: Chris Wagner, Ryan Nystrom, Ali Hafizji, Ricardo Rendon Cepeda, Ellen Shapiro, Orta Therox
- Website: https://developer.apple.com/wwdc/
If you’re an indie developer you have probably heard of 360iDev. It’s a pretty big conference that’s been going for five years, so the organization is rock solid. Here is a list of videos from previous editions.
Some thoughts from our team members:
“The 360 conferences were friendly, well-run, a good assortment of topics, a great location and really good food.” –John Nyquist
“360iDev was the highlight of 2013 for me. I really enjoyed getting to hang out and meet a ton of awesome iOS developers. 360iDev is great because the conference is packed with great sessions for all levels, but it doesn’t end there. John does a fantastic job of organizing not just sessions, but extracurricular events to make sure the mingling doesn’t stop at five.” –Ryan Poolos
- When: TBA – usually in September
- Where: TBA – usually in Denver, CO
- Team members planning to attend: Felipe Laso Marsetti, Ricardo Rendon Cepeda, Ryan Nystrom, Joel Shapiro
- Website: http://www.360idev.com
Here’s the lowdown from the team:
“NSConference was the first iOS conference I ever attended and I had a blast. There were about 100 attendees from all over the industry, from famous developers to beginners. I think I chatted with at least half of them. The atmosphere was great and the talks were a good mix between technical and business topics. There’s plenty of time between talks to socialize, and it’s easy to make new friends. The city of Leicester isn’t that impressive but the venue, an old theater, more than makes up for it. If you’re in the U.K. or Europe, it’s definitely worth going, but even if you’re from the U.S. or elsewhere in the world it’s worthwhile making the trip.” –Matthijs Hollemans
“This was my favourite conference I’ve ever been to. The talks were iOS specific, but were not all about technical stuff. Some were about how to use the right tools and some were about life as a developer in general. I mostly liked the people there though. I got to meet a lot of awesome people and have stayed in touch with a lot of them since. It was just a very enjoyable and fun time. The location isn’t the best place in the U.K., but the city was cheap to stay. The venue itself was fantastic. It’s in a converted cinema. There are lots of small tables to sit around rather than rows and rows of seats like other conferences.” –Matt Galloway
- When: March 17th-19th
- Where: Leicester, U.K.
- Team members planning to attend: Sam Davies, Ali Hafizji, Matt Galloway
- Website: http://nsconference.com
Cocoaconf is not just any old conference, it’s on wheels! There are usually two tours, one in the spring and one in the fall. The conference comes through key cities across the U.S. This makes it easy to attend even if you don’t have much of a budget.
The style is familiar and cozy. Usually, you’ll find the event in a hotel, with meals served in a classic banquet setting to encourage good conversation between attendees.
Some commentary from the team:
“CocoaConf is always a great experience. The speaker to attendee ratio is fantastic because you get a great opportunity to really interact with the speakers in a way no other conference lets you.” –Ryan Poolos
“I really liked this conference. Definitely my favorite of last year. They were really attentive and the show was really well run. They presented iOS specific tech although there were some sessions on design as well as a few on related services. It was a smaller conference which was a nice way to meet other attendees as well as the presenters.” –Brian Moakley
“CocoaConf is a regional conference in the US which host four or five 2 day long conferences in a Spring and Fall tour. The upcoming Spring tour takes place from March into May. CocoaConf draws speakers from all over the US(on occasion other parts of the world too), sharing information on technology, design, and business related to Cocoa development. The vast majority of the talks focus specifically on iOS development and are a healthy mix of beginner and intermediate topics.
Since CocoaConf is a frequently given regional conference it becomes a great local networking event, drawing in people outside the boundaries of the local Cocoaheads. The conferences are typically kept on the smaller side and there is a lot of one on one interaction opportunity with speakers. With some very high caliber speakers present it can be a great chance to get some direct advice from some of the big names in iOS and Mac development. –Kyle Richter
- When: Many times, see website
- Where: Many places, see website
- Team members planning to attend: Tony Dahbura, Sam Davies, Brian Moakley, Cesare Rocchi, Ellen Shapiro, Joel Shapiro, Ryan Nystrom, Ryan Poolos, Ray Wenderlich, Vicki Wenderlich
- Website: http://cocoaconf.com
Cingleton is one-of-a-kind conference. You probably won’t find any technical presentations, but if you’re looking for inspiration it’s definitely a worth attending. Check out last year’s videos to get an idea.
“The third installation of Cingleton was held in Montreal, where it’s always been. There were a lot of big-name speakers that gave talks on the conference theme of Core Values. The sessions are one-tracked and usually geared more towards the community topics instead of getting technical. The very limited number of tickets (about 150) sold out in about 30 minutes!” –Ryan Nystrom
- When: TBA — but usually in October
- Where: TBA — but usually in Montreal, CA
- Team members planning to attend: Ryan Nystrom, Cesare Rocchi
- Website: http://çingleton.com
mdevcon is not specific to iOS, but it’s about everything mobile. 2014 is its third edition.
Here are the notes from one of our our team members:
“mdevcon is a nice little conference, held in a classy movie theater in Amsterdam. The talks are in English and the audience is very diverse. There were two tracks, covering both iOS and Android. It was a two day conference, with workshops on the first day, but I only went the second day. There wasn’t really a lot of time to chat with other attendees in between the talks, which was a bit of a shame, and no vegetarian food. But you’re in the center of Amsterdam so finding food isn’t a big problem, and everyone heads out to nearby bars afterwards for socializing. I’d recommend this conference if you’re in the neighborhood (getting to Amsterdam from most places in Western Europe is pretty easy).” –Matthijs Hollemans
“As an iOS developer, I am entirely focused on the new things coming from Apple every year. However, it’s worth keeping an eye on the other players in the mobile development area. Mdevcon is a great event for mobile developers of all persuasions to meet each other . There is a friendly exchange of ideas and content. As an iOS developer, I can wander into an Android talk and follow along. Likewise, developers from other platforms can see what is required of iOS developers to create quality apps. This cross pollination of information will help you no matter which platform for which you develop apps. And not all talks are platform specific either, as some topics, such as security, design, marketing and user experience apply to everyone.
Mdevcon has one of the best venues and cities of any conference I’ve attended. The Tuschinski Theater is a fantastic open space to attend talks, and the lobby is cosy enough for everyone to talk about the sessions afterward. The Tuschinski Theater is also right in the middle of Rembrandtplein in the heart of Amsterdam, so the sights and sounds of Amsterdam are right outside. The event hosts at Egeniq also introduce a bit of classic Dutch cuisine for you at lunch time. Be sure to grab a bitterball before they are gone. And don’t forget the after event drink up at the Three Sisters pub just down the street!
If you want a friendly environment to learn what is going on in other mobile platforms, in an amazing venue and a terrific world city, then mdevcon should be on the top of your list of events to attend.” –Saul Mora
- When: March 7th-8th
- Where: Amsterdam
- Team members planning to attend: Cesare Rocchi, Marin Todorov
- Website: http://www.mdevcon.com
iOSDevUK is a three day conference that is very focused on iOS, usually with two tracks: one technical and one on business/design.
Here’s what a couple of our team members had to say about it:
“I attended, and gave a talk at, iOSDevUK ’13. And I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. The organisers where incredibly friendly, as were all the attendees. There was a good mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced sessions, with even an Arduino workshop thrown in for good measure. The accommodation was great, and since you stayed on the university campus you were only a short walk from the lecture theatres were the sessions were held. ’13 had a great lineup of speakers, including a keynote from Alan Cannistraro of Facebook and both a session and workshop on Core Data with Mr Core Data himself, Marcus Zarra.” –Mic Pringle
“iOSDevUK is held at the rather remote location of Aberystwyth, Wales (U.K.), which takes quite a long time to reach regardless of how you travel, or where you’re traveling from! However, those that attend are rewarded with a very sociable conference where people live together, have breakfast together and enjoy some really high quality talks and presentations. Considering the very low cost, this is definitely a conference I will be returning to next year.” –Colin Eberhardt
- When: September 2nd-4th
- Where: Aberystwyth, Wales U.K.
- Team members planning to attend: Ricardo Rendon Cepeda, Colin Eberhardt, Mic Pringle
- Website: http://www.iosdevuk.com
UIKonf is a very nice, new conference. 2013 was the first edition and the organizers made the commitment to bring in new speakers every year. Another peculiarity of UIKonf is that you can vote on the proposals. See the website for more info.
Here’s what I thought about the event:
“UIKonf was really well organized. The single track helped the attendees to stay focused on presentations without having to choose one track. In spite the fact that it was the first edition, it was very well organized, with pre-conference lightning talks and a post-conference hackthlon. Berlin is pretty easy to reach from anywhere in Europe and the iOS community is pretty vibrant. Definitely a conference to check out if you can.” –Cesare Rocchi
- When: May 14th-16th
- Where: Berlin
- Team members planning to attend: Marin Todorov, Orta Therox
- Website: http://www.uikonf.com
Games, finally! GDC is not a specific conference for iOS, but if you’re a game developer you should consider buying a ticket. Not convinced? Read on…
“If you’re a game developer, GDC is the best conference to attend bar none. The talks are super high quality and are on a breadth of topics, from technical aspects to design to marketing and the business of making games. There are so many great talks going on at once you feel like a kid in a candy store, not to mention getting to meet and hang out with other game developers in the industry and even show-off your game if you want to get a booth. Highly recommended!” –Ray Wenderlich
“2013 was my first year attending GDC. I was going to be speaking in the iOS Games in a Day track of the conference along with Ray Wenderlich, Rod Strougo, Gareth Jenkins and others. The show is enormous with multiple tracks running in parallel. If your involved in games in any way then there is something at this conference for you. For me the technical tracks were the most interesting. Listening to how specific elements of both indie AAA games were developed, how they solved problems and even approached problems was fantastic. I particularly enjoyed a talk by the guys at CodeMasters on how they wrote the AI for the F1 racing game. I was able to enhance some autonomous steering code straight after their talk in my talks demo code which was most useful. While GDC is not focused on iOS, if your developing games then the energy and ideas flying around is something you have to experience at least once.” –Mike Daley
- When: March 17th-21st
- Where: San Francisco
- Team members planning to attend: None this year unfortunately!
- Website: http://www.gdconf.com
“It was a fun conference with lots of upcoming passionate talkers for around Europe, where a lot of the action is coming from lately. It was held during a wine festival in Rioja, which came with its own advantages. The food was out of this world. I spoke there last year, and I’ll be doing my damnedest to be there in 2014.” –Orta Therox
- When: TBA
- Where: TBA
- Team members planning to attend: Orta Therox, Cesare Rocchi
- Website: http://nsspain.com/
Which Should I Choose?!
If you’re unsure which to choose, here’s my advice – in a handy flowchart!
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to be objective when judging a conference. What we think is spectacular could turn out to be a disappointment in your book. This post sums up the opinions of our team, based on firsthand experience as either speakers or attendees.
We’d love to hear what you thought of these conferences last year, and of course any advice you have on the best accommodations, eats and nightlife.
Finally, please fill out this poll to let us know which conference(s) you’re planning on attending this year:
We hope to see you at some iOS conferences this year! :]