You may have come across an app called Android System WebView on your smartphone. It’s a piece of software that enables 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 what exactly 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 do need Android System WebView.
There is one exception to this, however. If you’re running Android 7.0 Nougat, Android 8.0 Oreo, or Android 9.0 Pie, you can safely disable the app on your phone without suffering adverse consequences. This is because Chrome handled WebView duties for these three OS versions, making Android System WebView largely redundant.
Assuming you still have those versions of Android running on your phone, here’s what you can do to disable System WebView. First, go to Settings > Apps/Application > More > Show system. Next, scroll down and tap Android System WebView, and then tap Disable.
It’s worth pointing out that you can’t uninstall Android System WebView, since it’s a system app. You can, however, uninstall updates for it. This might be something you’d want to do if you need extra storage space, although it’s worth remembering that updates usually contain important bug fixes, so it’s probably not a great idea from a security standpoint.
Assuming that security isn’t a concern for you in this case, you can uninstall System WebView updates by opening Google Play Store on your phone, finding Android System WebView, and then tapping Uninstall. Again, this is advisable only if you’re running the aforementioned versions of Android, since Chrome — rather than Android System WebView — handles WebView tasks for these systems.
Lastly, Google returned WebView duties to Android System WebView for Android 10 (and now Android 11). So if you are running either of these systems (or Android 6.0 Marshmallow or earlier), we strongly recommend you don’t disable the app or delete its updates.
What exactly is Android System WebView?
To provide a little more detail on what exactly the app does, Android System WebView is a system component for Android that lets your phone display content from the web directly inside an app that isn’t 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 within 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, capable of being updated only by updating to a new Android version. However, Google separated WebView from the core OS with Android 5.0 Lollipop, so updates to WebView had to be downloaded through the Google Play app store. It then moved the System WebView component to Chrome with the advent of Android 7.0 Nougat, so you can update the app only by updating Chrome. It then moved it back to the separate Android System WebView app with Android 10, where it still remains.