What Is Android System WebView?

What Is Android System WebView?

Sharaf Maksumov/Shutterstock.com

If you’re using an Android device, you may have come across an app called Android System WebView. It is a system app that receives regular updates through the Google Play store. But that it does? Should you remove it?

A crucial component of the system

Android System WebView is an essential system component that Android apps use to display external web content instead of opening it in a regular web browser, such as Chrome. It comes pre-installed on all Android devices.

It is commonly used in apps like Twitter and Facebook to open the hyperlinks shared within the app. But a wide variety of other Android apps also use it to display web content that isn’t part of the app.

The WebView app is based on Chromium, the same open source project that powers the Google Chrome web browser, but it doesn’t include all the features present in the full version of Chrome. Therefore, it is not a replacement for a normal browser.

Why do apps use it?

Android WebView System on Twitter
Android System WebView in use on Twitter for Android.

Google offers apps multiple ways to display external content, including WebView, custom tabs, and the ability to trigger a regular web browser. But to keep users inside their apps and provide a seamless experience, app developers employ WebView functionality whenever external content needs to be displayed.

Thanks to WebView, every time you tap a URL in an app, a container inside the app opens and displays the entire web page. Additionally, app developers can customize this container to match the overall interface of the app. So you get a consistent experience and don’t transfer to the separate browser app to open external web content.

Why is Android System WebView getting updates?

Android System WebView Update

You will often see the Android System WebView in the list of updated apps. This is because Google frequently releases updates to WebView to ensure it has the latest improvements and bug fixes introduced in the Chromium project. These updates are essential for all applications that use WebView to run smoothly.

If it seems like a recent addition to your apps, that’s because WebView used to get updated as part of major Android updates. But starting with the release of Android 5.0 Lollipop, the company updated it through the Google Play store as a separate Android System WebView app. That way you can receive updates when needed instead of relying on limited system updates.

More importantly, you don’t need to update the Android System WebView app manually. Instead, it automatically receives all updates.

Can the Android System WebView be removed?

Android System WebView Disable Option

You cannot uninstall the Android System WebView app from an Android device because it is a system app. You can disable it or uninstall updates, but there is no good reason to do so. This is because many apps and games use it to display external web pages and other content. If you disable it, at best, you risk breaking some of their functionality, and at worst, making them completely unstable.

Interestingly, for Android 7 Nougat, Android 8 Oreo, and Android 9 Pie versions, Google used the full version of Chrome for WebView functionality. Although the Android System WebView app was installed on all Android devices, it was not actively used or updated. So for these versions, even if you disable Android System WebView, there is no performance impact on any app, but you will not get any benefit either. So it is better to leave the app alone.

What about WebView Beta, Dev or Canary?

Android System WebView Versions

Like most apps, pre-release versions of Android System WebView, such as beta, dev, and canary, are released through the Google Play store. But these releases are intended for application developers to test upcoming changes to WebView if their applications use WebView functionality.

They are not for regular users, and even if you install a preview version, you will not see any benefit. Instead, you may have to deal with bugs, as the beta, development, and canary versions have not been thoroughly tested and can be unstable.

Important part of the Android experience

All in all, the Android System WebView app is an integral part of the core Android experience. However, it is not your typical application. Therefore, it does not appear in the app launcher, nor can you open it manually. But it’s there for when an application needs it. It’s a good idea to know about it so you don’t disable it or remove updates and end up causing problems.

However, if you are looking for apps that can be deleted, consider bulk deleting apps and other methods to free up space on an Android device.

RELATED: How to free up storage space on your Android phone

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