Google launches WebView beta channel for developer tinkering

android webview
Credit: Derek Walter

Google just launched a beta channel of its WebView tool, which should ultimately lead to a better experience when you view web content inside of an app.

Developers use WebView in apps like Feedly or Facebook to let you read an article within the app, without kicking you out to the browser. By creating a Beta version, developers can check out new features sooner and optimize performance for a better experience with their Android apps. Until Android Lollipop, WebView was baked into the operating system, and was only updated when the whole OS was. That changes in Lollipop; WebView can be updated directly from the Play Store.

If you’re a developer, you need to join the Google+ community in order to get access to the WebView Beta.

This move is likely in response to a WebView vulnerability discovered in Android devices Jelly Bean (4.3) devices and below. This caught a lot of attention because Google said it would not fix the issue because doing so would require an Android update, which is a rather unpredictable and slow process. The “fix” in essence is Lollipop, though some flagship phones are just starting to get it, and many older phones never will.

Why this matters: WebView is a key Android service. Google has wisely tied it to Play Store updates so there won’t be the kind of security concerns found in previous Android versions. As always, good Android security practices should leave you without any problems.

This story, "Google launches WebView beta channel for developer tinkering" was originally published by Greenbot.

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