Each January, we write about the top 10 iOS conferences in the coming year, so everyone can start thinking about their conference plans.
I have to say, this has been the most challenging year to write this article yet. The number of iOS conferences has exploded lately, which makes choosing the top 10 very difficult.
Mike Lee says it best: “We have always had a great conference culture in our community, and lately there seems to be an embarrassment of riches on a world scale.”
So 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.
Without further ado, let’s dive in to the top 10 iOS conferences of 2015!
1) WWDC and AltConf
The elephant in the room with iOS conferences is WWDC – Apple’s official developer conference.
Without a doubt going to WWDC is a must – if you can get a ticket, that is. Last year, Apple introduced a new lottery system to get tickets, so it’s now a matter of luck.
However, even if you don’t manage to get a ticket, you should consider going to San Francisco anyway. WWDC is the largest gathering of iOS developers in the entire year, so you can meet up with all your friends at various meetups and parties.
Even better, during the same time as WWDC there’s a great unofficial conference called AltConf, which is a great way to hear from some well known non-Apple speakers from across the community.
“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
“The theory behind AltConf is simple: it’s worth being in town for WWDC, even if you don’t have tickets, and if you’re already there, you might as well go to the conference next door. The reality of what AltConf has become is an important addition to the very controlled stream of information Apple provides. Some of the industry’s best speakers don’t work at Apple, and some of the industry’s most important topics aren’t being discussed by Hair Force One.” –Mike Lee
“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
- When: TBA, it usually happens mid-June.
- Where: TBA, it’s usually held at Moscone Center in San Francisco.
- Team members planning to attend: René Cacheaux, Ricardo Rendon Cepeda, Matt Galloway, Tim Mitra, Matthew Morey, Vincent Ngo, Cesare Rocchi, Ellen Shapiro, Chris Wagner, Ray Wenderlich
- Website: WWDC & AltConf
I’ve made no secret that 360iDev is one of my favorite iOS conferences. It has a little bit of everything – technical talks, design talks, business talks, and great parties – and has a wonderful community of attendees that come back year after year.
Attending 360iDev always makes you feel like you’re returning to home, and meeting up with friends you haven’t seen in ages. I look forward to many more years of 360iDev to come!
“360iDev should be attended by every iOS and Mac developer at least once. The organizers do a great job at securing a good swatch of speakers for extremely varied topics and a fun atmosphere. It’s definitely affordable and usually paired with a hotel making a stress-free experience. This past year had a few logistical hiccups with the new venue they chose but still was a blast. I’m definitely coming back.” –Aaron Douglas
“If I could only go to one conference this year it would be 360iDev in Denver. It’s a great mix of how to talks, introduction to new technologies, code and technology samples and business ideas and tips. The climate and weather are usually great and so are the other attendees. Don’t plan on doing any sight seeing, as this conference is packed with content.” –Tim Mitra
- When: August 16-19, 2015
- Where: Denver, CO, USA
- Team members planning to attend: René Cacheaux, Aaron Douglas, Tim Mitra, Ryan Nystrom, Kyle Richter, Joel Shapiro, Ellen Shapiro, Chris Wagner, Jack Wu
- Websites: 360iDev
If 360iDev is the annual big gathering, CocoaConf is the periodic local meetup. CocoaConf’s unique trait is the conference travels across the US, having multiple locations across the year.
CocoaConf also has some fun unique traits like group discussions, game shows, geeky iOS songs, and more. Definitely recommended if one is near you!
“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 the spring so much that I asked if I could put a talk together, and I would up speaking in Boston and Atlanta this fall.” –Ellen Shapiro
- When: Many times, see website.
- Where: Many places in the USA, see website.
- Team members planning to attend: René Cacheaux, Aaron Douglas, Vincent Ngo, Kyle Richter, Cesare Rocchi, Joel Shapiro, Ellen Shapiro
- Websites: CocoaConf
NSConference is one of the oldest iOS conferences in Europe, and always draws top-notch speakers.
“NSConf – the best conference outside of WWDC for me. The conference attracts the best speakers and because of that, a top quality attendee base. The conference is really set up to meet new people and you find yourself sitting at a new table every day. Fantastic!” –Matt Galloway
“NSConference feels like a mini WWDC set in Leicester, the location is a concert, auditorium setting with round tables. The organizers encourage a lot of networking in between sessions and this helps if you like meeting and chatting with fellow developers. The talks have a wide-range of topics, from the outright weird keynote to the former Apple Developer Evangelist giving you marketing advice. And if you like alcohol, the evening drinks are fun to be at :-)” –Tope Abayomi
“You can’t call 360|iDev the most important indie conference in the world, because it shares that title with NSConference, and you’re not seeing the whole world of Apple unless you go to both. Everybody love NSConference, but I think what’s most amazing is that the organizers have been expanding and evolving the production every year, yet it somehow keeps getting better.” –Mike Lee
- When: March 16-18, 2015
- Where: Athena, Leicester, UK
- Team members planning to attend: Kyle Richter
- Websites: NSConference
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. I’ve heard great things about this conference from many folks on the raywenderlich.com team and am attending myself this year.
“iOSDevUK shouldn’t really work, but somehow it totally does. Forget the ritzy hotels, grand keynotes, packed ballrooms, and big city nightlife – iOSDevUK is really just a bunch of loveable devs shacking up together on a quaint University campus near the scenic Welsh seaside… and it is phenomenal! If you truly want to connect with world-class speakers, chat with all the attendees, and be fully immersed in iOS for a couple of days, then you must attend this conference. You’ll feel like nothing matters in this world except for iOS :]” –Ricardo Rendon Cepeda
“The first thing you will enjoy about iOSDevUK is the location, if you enjoy remote landscapes and seeing the ocean. The conference itself is set in the University of Aberystwyth so it instantly gives you a scholarly feel. The talks are very technical so you do get to learn a lot. The dinner too is amazing.” –Tope Abayomi
“As pretty much everyone is want to remark – this conference is not the easiest to get to. However, for me, that just adds to it’s charm; there are few routes in to Aberystwyth, the most convenient form of transport being by train. Inevitably this leads to a gathering of attendees all heading for the same train which takes on a geek equivalent of the ‘Hogwarts Express’. The conference is held at Aber’s University campus which seems to get moved a bit further up the hill every year! Accommodation is available on site in student rooms which are basic but transport me back to Uni days. Late nights & one or two drinks serve only to reinforce that feeling.
Conference sessions are held in parallel in two lecture theatres, so there’s always a decision to make over which to attend. There are plenty of breaks for coffee & biscuits between sessions, giving great opportunities to catch up with old friends & to make new ones. This is one conference which has regular attendees year-on-year with good reason. Sessions cover a wide range of subjects & every one I attended taught me something new. Despite the walk back up the hill I have no hesitation in recommending iOSDevUK. For me it feels like being back at Uni & I come away each year feeling that I’ve learned something as well as having a great time.” –Mark Brindle
- When: September 7-10, 2015
- Where: Aberystwyth, UK
- Team members planning to attend: Darryl Bayliss, Ricardo Rendon Cepeda, Matt Galloway, Ryan Nystrom, Mic Pringle, Marin Todorov, Ray Wenderlich
- Websites: iOSDevUK
MDevCon is a mobile conference in Amsterdam. It focuses on more than just iOS – if you also think Android and Google Glass development is cool, this is the conference for you!
“If you’re crossing an ocean for NSConference, there’s a good chance you’re stopping in Amsterdam. Come a week early and check out Mdevcon. It’s a great scene, and the perfect warmup, but it’s also worth it just to see the most beautiful venue in the most livable city in the world. You can even attend some Appsterdam events while you’re in town. ;)” –Mike Lee
“Mdevcon is held at the fabulous Tuschinski Theater in Amsterdam. It’s a great location, right downtown. The conference is very well organized, usually in multiple tracks, covering both design and development topics related to mobile platforms. Attendees are very very friendly and I had great conversations during breaks and dinners. Definitely a conference that I recommend.” –Cesare Rocchi
“mdevcon was an amazing experience: a technical conference that covered more than just code in the heart of Amsterdam. Held in a beautiful old-time movie theatre, there was this really cool feeling listening to people discuss topics they were truly passionate about. One of the speakers even live-coded an iBeacons app. Amazing.” –Ash Furrow
- When: March 5-6, 2015
- Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Team members planning to attend: Cesare Rocchi, Marin Todorov
- Websites: mdevcon
7) #Pragma Conference
#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 can’t recommend enough Pragma Mark – the guys organizing this event always manage to create a very special feeling about the conference. It’s an event happening usually just few weeks after the new version of iOS comes out so you can count on attending interesting and entertaining sessions and meeting cool people. Pragma Mark really puts Italy on the conference map by attracting people from around the world to come and meet up in Milan.” –Marin Todorov
“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
- When: 9-10 October
- Where: Florence, Italy
- Team members planning to attend: Marin Todorov
- Websites: #Pragma Conference
MCE is a relatively new conference in Warsaw, Poland – its first event was in 2014. The 2015 edition has several tracks on both deign and programming topics and appears to be very well organized and received.
“If you are planning a visit to Europe, you’re probably thinking about Berlin, but if you’ve never been to Berlin, you’re actually thinking about Warsaw. If you have been to Berlin, you’ll feel you’ve gone back in time 10 years. Either way, there’s no travel like business travel, and there’s no better excuse to visit Warsaw than MCE. Be sure to visit the museum of the Warsaw resistance while you’re there to learn some things about World War 2 they left out of your textbook.” –Mike Lee
“Easy location in Warsaw, impressive first edition organized in cinema, good lineup of cross discipline speakers and after party;)” –Krzysztof Zablocki
- When: February 4-6, 2015
- Where: Warsaw, Poland
- Team members planning to attend: N/A
- Websites: MCE
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 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
“For the last two years, I’ve attended NSNorth, an iOS conference held in Ottawa (Canada). It is a single-track conference that combines traditional talks with short blitz talks all centered around one main goal: bringing together independent iOS and Mac developers as well as designers to discuss the business of app development as well as creating new friendships and hopefully new business relationships. Both organizers of NSNorth go above and beyond to ensure everyone enjoys their experience at the event.” –Pierre Rochon
“NSNorth was a terrific conference, attended both so far. 2014 was really a big step up — a really interesting lineup of speakers, with a few well-known speakers from our community as well as some great lesser-known and local speakers — it makes for a nice balance since you’re not just hearing from the same voices as other conferences. They balance technical talks with inspirational and business topics, so you get a nice mix. They seem to achieve about a 50/50 mix of men and women speakers.” –Chris Saldanha
- When: April 10-12, 2015
- Where: Québec, Canada
- Team members planning to attend: Tim Mitra, Ryan Nystrom, Pierre Rochon, Jack Wu
- Websites: NSNorth
10) Yow! Australia
Last but not least, Yow! is a great mobile conference for anyone in Australia!
“If you’re in Australia and you’re into technology, Yow! is a no-brainer, but I am going to sing their praises anyway. I’ve never been so humbled to meet another speaker, or so honored to be in the presence of an conference organizer, as I have been with Yow! It’s not just impressive. It’s a reason to go to Australia.” –Mike Lee
“I attended and spoke at the Yow! conference for the first time last year. I had a lovely time. Melbourne is a great city that I enjoyed a lot. The conference was very well conceived. The keynote, about an open source satellite, blew me away. I really liked the cozy environment, many of the presentations and all the satellite events organized after the conference. If it’s always like that I am back any time :).” –Cesare Rocchi
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.
- CocoaLove: CocoaLove is a new conference that focuses more on the people behind the tech.
- Cmd-R: Cmd-R is a relatively new conference in London that had some great speakers and I’ve heard good things about their first edition.
- NSScotland: NSScotland is small, but well liked – worth checking out if you’re in the UK.
- NSSpain: Another relatively new conference, with a single track and focus on meeting new people.
- RWDevCon: We’re also running our own conference for the first time this year. The focus is on hands-on tutorials, inspiration, team coordination, and friendship.
Which Should I Choose?!
If you’re unsure which to choose, here’s my advice – in a handy flowchart!
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 in 2014 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 2014 – it will be really helpful for those trying to decide which to attend.
We hope to see you at some iOS conferences this year!