Android WebView app crashes promised to never happen again

JC Torres - Apr 20, 2021, 9:04pm CDT
Android WebView app crashes promised to never happen again

An odd bug last month saw random Android apps crashing left and right for seemingly no reason at all. It was eventually and correctly traced to Android’s WebView component and, fortunately, some have also figured out workarounds while waiting for Google to fix it for good. Now the Android maker is taking steps so that the incident won’t happen again, even if it does accidentally push a buggy update again.

Updates that bring bugs aren’t that uncommon, just ask Microsoft. When those bugs appear in critical operating system components, however, they can wreak havoc that leaves users with no choice but to wait for another update that fixes that bug. Presuming the device is even left in a usable state.

Fortunately, the WebView bug last month wasn’t that bad but was still infuriating for some users. As the component that Android apps use to render web pages, almost any app that used that functionality was affected, and there are a lot of them.

Google has now explained that the bug came from experimental configuration technology used by Chrome and WebView. This connection between the two is part of what caused problems because some users were unable to work around the crashes unless they downgraded Chrome as well. As part of its efforts to ensure it won’t happen again, Google promises to improve its testing processes so that bugs are caught before they roll out.

Another interesting solution is the addition of a “Safe Mode” for WebView. In the event that such an app-crashing bug happens again, WebView should fall back on a previously working version so that apps will work again while Google works on a proper fix.


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