Adobe PhoneGap falls between the cracks thanks to new Apple requirements, developers fume

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Developers using Adobe's PhoneGap framework for building mobile apps for iOS and Android may soon be unable to submit to Apple's App Store, thanks to Adobe's use of an old iOS SDK.

PhoneGap is Adobe's commercial version of Apache Cordova, an approach to cross-platform development based on using web browser technology. Adobe acquired Nitobi, the company that created PhoneGap, in 2011, the year after Steve Jobs pronounced his thoughts on Flash, fatally wounding Adobe's efforts to establish it as a kind of universal runtime. PhoneGap seemed a natural alternative but since then the company has shifted its attention away from developers, focusing on design, marketing and digital documents instead.

The PhoneGap product, with its cloud-based Build service, still exists though, and has some customers that are now unhappy, thanks to a recent Apple directive that states:

"Apps that use a third-party or social login service (such as Facebook Login, Google Sign-In, Sign in with Twitter, Sign In with LinkedIn, Login with Amazon, or WeChat Login) to set up or authenticate the user's primary account with the app must also offer Sign-in with Apple as an equivalent option."

The problem is that PhoneGap Build still uses the iOS 12.1 SDK, and it is impossible to create compliant apps. "It seems you can't build apps using apple sign in (protocols, codes or plugins) as they are from iOS SDK 13", said one developer. We also note the UIWebView component is now deprecated in favour of WKWebView. Apple originally said that non-conforming apps would be blocked from 1st April 2020, but has now extended this to June 30th. This latest guidance states that "Apps for iPhone or iPad must be built with the iOS 13 SDK or later."

Chris Griffith, an Adobe community member who has contacted Adobe, claimed the company has nobody working on the product and that "the only reason it is still alive is for Android publishing."

Some developers may have their Android signing keys only in PhoneGap build and need the service for that reason. This rationale has not been publicly stated by Adobe though, and developers feel that the service should either be officially shuttered or at least kept minimally up to date.

We have asked Adobe for an update but in the meantime, Griffiths has some guidance. "Let me be 1,000 per cent clear: MIGRATE!!!!"®

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