Definition

Android WebView

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Mobile endpoint security: What enterprise infosec pros must know now
Contributor(s): Madelyn Bacon

Android WebView is a system component for the Android operating system (OS) that allows Android apps to display content from the web directly inside an application.  

There are two ways to view web content on an Android device: though a traditional web browser or through an Android application that includes WebView in the layout. If a developer wants to add browser functionality to an application, she can include the WebView library and create an instance of a WebView class; this essentially embeds a browser within the app to do things like render web pages and execute JavaScript.  WebView is powerful because it not only provides the app with an embedded browser, it also allows the developer's app to interact with web pages and other web apps. 

In the past, WebView was tightly coupled with the operating system and the component would only be updated with the release of a new version of the operating system. When Google released Android 5, however, Google separated WebView from the core operating system so updates to WebView can be distributed  through the Google Play app store. This is good news for end users whose Android devices run newer versions of the operating system.  If a bug is found in the WebView component, Google can push out a fix and end users can get it at the Google Play store and install it.  

Google no longer provides patches for vulnerabilities found in Android versions 4.3 and older, however. To protect devices from attacks that might exploit WebView's capabilities, Google recommends that all Android users run the latest version of the operating system and update WebView when prompted. 

 

This was last updated in April 2015

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