Thousands of Android apps crashing after bad WebView update

in Project HOPE4 months ago


Yesterday evening, Google pushed out an update to its Android System WebView application that is reportedly to blame for breaking thousands of popular apps, including Gmail, TikTok, Amazon and more.

According to website DownDetector, the problems started at around 9PM local time, when an update to WebView was published on the Play Store. If your device is set to automatically update apps and you have noticed some strange behaviour or crashes, this is likely the culprit.It’s thought that hundreds of thousands of apps rely on WebView to render their content, and DownDetector are listing a huge amount of affected apps right now including Google itself, Gmail, Amazon, Yahoo! Mail, TikTok, Outlook, Kik, Tumblr, Facebook Messenger and many more.

So what exactly is WebView? Well, it’s a browser (like Chrome or Opera) except it integrates itself inside other applications to make them work. There is no address bar, bookmarks, settings or anything user-customisable – WebView only functions inside apps that require HTML5 or other web content.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix: You can head into the Play Store, search for WebView, then hit the uninstall button. Don’t worry – this won’t actually remove the application altogether, it will just downgrade the version to original version your device came with. Then, once Google push out the next WebView update with a fix, you can search for WebView in Play Store again and update it. Simple!