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any way of speeding up build times?
cycle is > 30seconds - 1 minute, and that's on a very fast mac mini with ssd drive.
build for a native ios app of same complexity in appcode/xcode is about 10 seconds.
any way of speeding this up? more caching, etc?
Without any data there's no direct answer to that question. Build time is relative to your application size, so 30 seconds to a minute could not normal, or very slow.
Several build options will affect the time it takes to produce a .app bundle. Some of them are discussed in this SO post  and you can get more details in the talk I gave to Evolve 2013 .
If you think your settings are optimal (wrt above links) and builds are still too slow then we'll need to get more details about your application (builds log and timings) to investigate.