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Thousands of Android apps crashing after bad WebView update

Webview, Google Workspace Team

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!

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11 thoughts on “Thousands of Android apps crashing after bad WebView update

  1. Thanks for the info! I was about to uninstall and reinstall affected apps, before coming across this article.
    I went to uninstall WebView as recommended but noticed an update is available now which has resolved it

      1. If I understand the article correctly, you are not supposed to re-install. Just uninstall to remove updates and use it as is. Re-installing will probably bring back the new update.

  2. Bull. WEBVIEW is DISABLED on my phone and it started this crap last night first on a smart light app, then OUTLOOK (and Samsung email I don’t use) but gmail still worked. Only this morning did gmail start crashing. Funny they have a CHROME UPDATE too, very small one. Surely not a bit of code that affects multiple apps, with full internet data traffic? HOW RISKY IS THAT??? THEY ARE LYING AND HIDING SOMETHING.

  3. My webview has no option to uninstall it; and when I look at the list of apps, it says it is disabled. What should I do now?

    1. If you’re Android 9 or below, you’ll be using Chrome as WebView instead. This is no longer an option in Android 10 or 11.

      In your case, you can try uninstalling Chrome to replace the app with the stock version — OR, install Chrome BETA/Canary from the Play Store, then head into Developer Options and set this new Chrome version to be your WebView provider. Google for more assistance.

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