Using WebKit Engine with Cordova/PhoneGap
PhoneGap with WKWebKit significantly increases application execution speed and stability without changing any code on the developer side.

Unfortunately, it is not all good news for PhoneGap developers. The current version of PhoneGap includes UIWebView as a core piece. In order to use the WebKit Framework with PhoneGap, there are some deep issues. In Apple’s release notes, the conflicts between PhoneGap and the WebKit API are highlighted:

Applications that use Apache Cordova/PhoneGap are broken due to a bug that causes the window.navigator.userAgent object to become undefined when window.navigator is replaced by a pure JavaScript wrapper object.

We expect these issues to be resolved soon, but be sure to go in with your eyes wide open, as always.

Ending on a high note, Apple has introduced one more bit of happiness for PhoneGap developers: the new Swift programming language. PhoneGap has a powerful feature called Cordova Plugins where developers can wrap native code and have it be callable from JavaScript. Starting now, you can use Swift to develop the plugins. Leveraging iOS native features in hybrid apps has gotten much easier.

Final thoughts
Sometimes it is easy to blame Apple for focusing on native development exclusively. In many ways this is understandable. But with the new release of iOS 8, there are many reasons for hybrid app developers to be excited. Performance is probably the biggest—maybe only—legitimate criticism of HTML5 hybrid app development. iOS 8 has changed that equation significantly.

And for the many Cordova/PhoneGap hybrid app developers out there, WKWebkit and Swift look like serious improvements specific to your issues. It is not all perfectly smooth, and some issues remain. But considering the significant gains in performance, improving the Achilles’ heel of hybrid app development on iOS devices, iOS 8 should really appeal to hybrid app developers.

Remember, historically the iOS adoption rate has been very quick. Currently, more than 90% of Apple mobile devices are running iOS 7. That is impressive. And there’s no reason to believe that trend will change. Hybrid app developers should start to dig in to iOS 8 immediately.

At the same time, the environment for Cordova/PhoneGap apps continues to improve. Combined with modern User Interface (UI) frameworks like Onsen UI, iOS 8 has ended the “PhoneGap is slow compared to native” arguments. More games and apps will be developed in a hybrid environment, playing a bigger and bigger role in application development.