First Look At Ionic 1.0 (RC) Release Candidate

Ionic is finally out of beta. Wait you did not know that it was in beta all this while? The latest release, version 1.0.0 RC to be exact brings Ionic out of beta and finally marks it as a stable version. It also brings along with it a lot of mouth watery goodness that address performance and even more optimisations.


In this post, I will showcase some of the very impressive updates that are part of this new version of Ionic. I will also round up with some things I expect to see in releases that follow version 1.0 RC.

Whats New?

I will divide my observations into 2 sections namely New Features and Improvements.

New Features

These are some of the new goodies that come with Ionic 1.0RC.

IOS Swipe Back

Ohhh how I have long waited for this feature to come in Ionic. This is the one feature that Native IOS developers have always used as ammunition, when a Native VS Hybrid argument occurs. If you do not know this feature, allow me to explain. On IOS, when you navigate between pages, you can natively swipe from the left of a page to go back to the previous page.

Adam Bradley’s swipe back demo from ng-conf 2015

Its a really cool feature and one that I have always wanted my IOS Ionic apps to posses. I must state that the effort needed to make this feature work from a technical point of view is enormous, which is why I think the Ionic team deserve a holiday for this particular feature. With this feature, your IOS apps will feel more native than ever before.

Collection Repeat

The collection repeat is one of my most loved Ionic features personally. I believe it was a revolutionary addition that solved a genuine problem, with the performance of long lists in Ionic apps. The Ionic team were inspired by the UITableView component from the IOS SDK, for the initial version of the Collection-Repeat component and it was no surprise that they revisited it for more inspiration.

Ionic 1.0RC comes with a rethought Collection-Repeat component that has even much faster performance that before, and comes with 4 modes of performance with the 4th (least performant) mode, having the same level of performance as the previous collection repeat. This means there are 3 new setups that provide even much faster speed and flexibility. Make sure you read the official blog post for this new Collection-Repeat for more information about it.

Material Design Action Sheet

The action sheet of Ionic is a very neat feature but up until Ionic 1.0RC, it has been very IOS like. In Ionic 1.0RC, the action sheet now has not just an android take to it, but actually adopts the native like Material Design action sheet. This is really good because now your Ionic apps will have their actions sheet follow the latest android material design theme when using the action sheet component.

Improvements

The Ionic team worked on so many things to ensure that the release candidate version of Ionic built on top of some of the already great tools we are used to. Some of the major improvements include :-

Scrolling

In Ionic 1.0RC, the Ionic team have worked heavily on the the scroll performance and have made it configurable. You are now able to decide wether to use native scrolling or Javascript scrolling on your app. I asked a similar question via live chat to Max Lynch, the Chief Creator of all things Ionic at the January edition of the Ionic UK launch event about this. He made it clear that on some newer devices especially Android devices, the native scrolling seemed to be as good if not better than the Javascript scrolling Ionic apps used. In RC1.0, you are able to toggle this on and off and let your users have the best possible experience.

Animation Performance

This one is something I have no benchmarks to prove as at yet but something I noticed out of my own pure eye to eye observation. I noticed that the transitions between views are even much smoother than previous Ionic versions. The Android transitions seem to be much more smoother with unnoticeable lag. Like I said, this might just be down to my optimistic nature but I will not be surprised to hear that the Ionic team did a bit of work down here.


Status Of Ionic IO Tools

Ionic IO is a suite of services provided by Ionic that will tie in well with your Ionic apps. Tools like analytics, push-notifications and a killer feature that lets you update your app without re-submitting it to the app store are all under works. At the time of writing this article, the Push-Notification service had already seen its private beta testing started. I have a confirmed response from the Ionic team that the other services are not far away. I am really excited about the Ionic IO platform as it will spell a new age for Ionic and Hybrid apps in general, as it will mean that the necessary services hybrid apps need are available to them almost instantly.


What To Expect Post Ionic 1.0RC

Firstly before I begin telling you what to expect, lets take a moment to recognise the great work the Ionic team have done. They have made the impossible possible and with 400k apps made with Ionic in a year, 14k stars on Github, I say to them well done. Nevertheless here are some things you will want to keep your eyes on regarding what the Ionic team have cooking up.

  • Angular Material — This is a project that aims to bring the Android Material Design goodness to the angular JS world. The ionic team is actually at the fore front of this project and along with some Google and open source help, this is going to be a certain success. For Ionic, this will mean that the Android flavour of Ionic apps will have all the goodness of Material Design in them for free. There are signs of this actually if you look at the android version of the Ionic View app.
Ionic View Options Menu With Material Design Look
  • Collide — Collide is a miniature Javascript animation engine created by Max Lynch, the father of everything Ionic. It aims to provide simple high performant physics animations to be used with Ionic apps over time. The new Ionic Tinder swipe card sample app uses the collide engine. I believe this is one to watch because when it matures, I see it providing a way for developer to get some really cool crazy animations on their apps.

Roundup

I love Ionic and I use it pretty much every day. I think it is the best thing that has happened to Hybrid apps. Version 1.0RC is a major landmark for this great platform and its hard to believe Ionic has only been around for just under 30 months.

I would like to see Ionic in future play with the possibility of mixing some native elements, thereby taking a more Native hybrid approach. Maybe have native animations and navigators with the web-view being the content area. I also expect to see a very much improved Android performance and support for other platforms like Windows Phone.

Finally, I will expect to see much better Tablet support and maybe a spinoff project for mobile web developers. These are just my personal wants but regardless of that, the Ionic team have done a great job so far and I will be hoping to see what the future holds for this great SDK. For now go download Ionic RC1.0.

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