Improvements: Drop-in Speed with WKWebView



By Ionic Team

Here at Ionic, we believe speed is a requirement, not a feature. We take pride in being performance-obsessed, because we believe speed is key to providing a first-class user experience. Most of the apps at the top of the App Store charts all have one thing in common: They’re all very fast and fluid! Ionic apps have always provided a quick, seamless experience, but we’ve come up with a simple way to make them even faster on iOS.

Ionic apps deployed using Cordova run within low-level, bare bones web browsers called “webviews”. Cordova utilizes each platform’s native webview in order to deploy the webapp within a native app wrapper.

iOS’s default web browser is Safari. Behind the scenes, Safari utilizes a webview. Currently, the iOS platform provides two different webviews that can be used. There’s the older (and slower) webview, called “UIWebView”, and the latest and greatest, called “WKWebView”. WKWebView is better and faster than UIWebView in every way. In addition to being significantly faster and smoother, Apple is actively providing updates to it in each iOS release. The Safari app takes advantage of WKWebView, which may explain why webapps seem more performant in Safari vs. within a Cordova application. Due to various incompatibilities and technical challenges, Ionic apps have been restricted to run in the several-year-old UIWebView.

But today, we have some great news! One of our awesome engineers, Manu, has been working hard to bring WKWebView to Ionic apps and is working to bring the new plugin into Cordova! The new plugin will work with both Ionic V1 and Ionic V2 apps. In fact, it should work with any iOS Cordova build!

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