Today, at the Angular Connect conference in London, we announced the first public alpha version of Ionic 2. Many months of hard work, false starts, lessons learned, and “aha!” moments have led us to this day, and we are so excited to finally take the wraps off the next generation of Ionic.

We’ve talked a lot about why we built Ionic 2, but it’s worth revisiting the story now that Ionic 2 actually exists in the wild. We started working on Ionic in the Summer of 2013, back when iOS 6 was king and Android 2.3 was still powering a significant number of devices. We had different browser APIs (lack thereof, really), and browser engines that seriously underperform what we have today. We decided to base Ionic on Angular, which ended up being a really lucky decision, but Angular 1.1 which we used back then is a far cry from new Angular 1 versions, and a generation in capability from Angular 2.

Fast forward two years, and Ionic has found widespread adoption in a diverse set of industries from developers around the world. Collectively, over 1.2M apps have been built on Ionic, a number that is increasing exponentially. With all these developers creating all these apps on Ionic, we’ve been able to learn a thing or two about how to build the best possible mobile development toolkit to help people build great apps quickly, without breaking the bank.

With all that data, we realized there were a number of crucial things we could improve in Ionic, but they would require more significant architectural changes. Angular 2 seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that.

With Ionic 2, we’ve overhauled and added a number of important features, including:

  • Overhauled Navigation: Completely control the navigation experience of your app without being tied to the URL bar. Navigate to any page inside of any view, including modals, side menus, and other view containers, while maintaining full deeplinking capability. This will completely change how you think about your app experience.

  • Native Support: We’ve added more native functionality directly into Ionic, making it easy to take advantage of the full power of the device without hunting down external plugins and code.

  • Powerful Theming: Don’t build apps that look like stock iOS/Android/Ionic. With the new theming system, it’s easy to instantly match your brand colors and design.

  • Material Design: Full material design support for Android apps.

Not to mention new and improved components, new docs, a new animation system, dramatically improved performance, and a whole lot more.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: “What about Ionic 1? What’s going to happen to it?” First of all, we will absolutely continue supporting Ionic 1 for a long time. In fact, there are a number of improvements we’re working on, including upgrading to the next version of Angular. At the same time, we are going to work to make it easy to upgrade to Ionic 2 slowly over time, as the community also starts to adopt Angular 2. While we aren’t going to apologize for wanting to push Ionic hard into the future, we also understand that software can live for a long time, and should be supported for as long as possible.

One of the things that gets us so excited about Ionic 2 is just how much room there was to improve on Ionic 1, especially when it came to performance and native functionality. We’ve been able to really optimize how Ionic apps feel with v2, and we think it’s going to completely change what you thought the web was capable of on mobile.

To get started, visit ionic.io/2, or visit the Getting Started page. We’ve also opened up a temporary GitHub Repository for Ionic 2 (see the README for a few demos!), and we will be moving the code over to the official Ionic repo over the coming weeks. If you run into any issues or have any feedback, please file issues on that repo! Also check out Adam’s great slides from his Ionic 2 talk today, complete with demos!

We want to thank everyone from the Ionic community for your support over the last two years. None of us expected that Ionic would become the most popular cross-platform mobile development toolkit in such a short amount of time, and it’s really your passion for building apps and sharing that passion with the world that has made any of this possible.

From all of us at Ionic, thank you, and we look forward to your feedback on Ionic 2 as we all work hard to push open web technologies on mobile into the future!