Google today announced it plans to eventually serve automatic updates to Android’s WebView just like it does for its Chrome browser. The latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 4.4 KitKat, has a Chromium-powered WebView component, bringing the same rendering engine and software stack that powers Chrome to Android app developers.
Google today answered the question “Do we plan to auto-update Android’s Chrome-based WebView?” by essentially saying the company is working on exactly such a plan. Here’s the full statement, worth quoting in full:
Evergreen browsers (like Chrome and Firefox) auto-update and keep their users up to date so they can view the web through a modern feature set. As a developer, this ensures your choices aren’t limited to a lowest-common denominator browser from years ago, but rather are keeping pace with the modern web. Your apps inside a WebView are just as important and deserve a runtime that keeps users up to date. There are large engineering and logistical challenges, but we’re not quite there yet and are working on it.
Google first revealed the Chromium-based WebView with the release of Android 4.4 KitKat late last month. It means Android developers can build apps (Google specifically named games, social networks, news and blog readers, in-app ads, and even complete web browsers) that leverage many of the features found in the Chromium (and Chrome) desktop browser.
For those who don’t know, Chromium is the open source Web browser project that shares much of the same code as Google Chrome, while Android’s WebView is used for embedding a web page in an app. If Google manages to update WebView as regularly as it does Chrome, or even half as often, developers will have access to an excellent platform for building apps that use the latest and greatest the Web has to offer.
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