You may have come across the Android System WebView app on your smartphone. It is a piece of software that allows other apps on your Android device to display web content without having to open a dedicated web browser. However, it has had a slightly more complex history since Android 7.0 Nougat, which incorporated its functionality into Chrome. This article explains exactly what it does and whether you can safely disable it or not.
Do I need Android System WebView?
The short answer to this question is yes, you need Android System WebView.
However, there is one exception to this. If you are using Android 7.0 Nougat, Android 8.0 Oreo or Android 9.0 Pie, you can safely disable the app on your phone without any adverse consequences. This is because Chrome handled the WebView tasks for these three OS versions, making Android System WebView largely obsolete.
Assuming you still have those versions of Android on your phone, here̵
It is worth pointing out that you cannot remove Android System WebView as it is a system app. However, you can remove updates for it. This could be something you would want to do if you need additional storage, although it’s worth remembering that updates usually contain important bug fixes, so it’s probably not a good idea from a security standpoint.
Assuming you don’t need to worry about security in this case, you can uninstall System WebView updates by opening Google Play Store on your phone, search Android system WebViewthen tap Remove. Again, this is only recommended if you’re using the aforementioned versions of Android, as Chrome – rather than Android System WebView – handles WebView tasks for these systems.
Finally, Google has returned WebView tasks to Android System WebView for Android 10 (and now Android 11). So if you are using one of these systems (or Android 6.0 Marshmallow or earlier), we strongly recommend that you do not disable the app or uninstall its updates.
What exactly is Android System WebView?
To give a little more detail on what the app does exactly, Android System WebView is a system component for Android that allows your phone to display content from the internet directly in an app that is not a browser. Developers can use Android System WebView to add browser functionality to the apps they develop by including the WebView code library in their software. By including this, they can effectively insert a browser into their apps so that you can use these apps to interact with web pages and web-based apps.
WebView used to be a core part of the Android operating system and could only be updated by updating to a new Android version. However, Google separated WebView from the core operating system running Android 5.0 Lollipop, so updates to WebView had to be downloaded from the Google Play App Store. Subsequently, the System WebView component was moved to Chrome with the arrival of Android 7.0 Nougat, so you can only update the app by updating Chrome. It then moved it back to the separate Android System WebView app with Android 10, where it still stands.