Open links within apps
Android System WebView is a system component for Android devices, powered by Google Chrome. This software utility works as a small version of Chrome, allowing users to open links within their opened apps. It loads the web link as if it was a part of the app itself. This app is pre-installed on Android devices. Users are advised to keep the app installed, as any app dependent on it will either stop working.
Providing easy web experience
WebView is a browser rendered inside an app as part of an activity layout. With this, you can open a link without the need to open your web browser app. You don’t get pushed onto another third-party application whenever you need to load a webpage. Instead, the in-app browser—WebView—pulls the content from the web for you.
WebView is particularly helpful when you are browsing through your social media app. For instance, if you are swiping up a post on Facebook with a web page link, you don’t have to copy the link and paste it on your browser. With WebView, you will be redirected to the page by simply clicking the link.
Furthermore, the mini browser provided by the WebView has all the features of a full-blown browser, including text search, content scaling, and scrolling. WebView not only saves time but also hardware resources that would otherwise be wasted in separately launching a web browser application. In turn, it will also save battery life.
Tool for developers
In addition to providing easy web experience to Android users, Android System WebView also helps in software development. With the app, Android 7.0+ developers can provide their apps the capability to open and interact with web content inside the program themselves. Creators will only need to enable the WebView library and create an instance of the WebView class. Then, they will need to add the web permissions and WebView code to the Android Declaration file.
These actions will ensure the integration of browser capabilities into the software created. It will also allow the rendering of web pages and JS codes. As mentioned, Android System WebView is almost always pre-installed in any Android device that runs on Marshmallow (Android 6) or lower. Android 7 (Nougat) devices, on the other hand, do not need it since apps that have capabilities to process external links now use the help of rendering engines provided by separate web browsers.
If you are running Android 7 or higher, you can still install the app, though. It's only advisable to install it manually if you have a device released in 2015 or later. Otherwise, you may fall victim to hackers who use the tiniest of flaws in code to gain access to your device's memory. This app can be quite resource-intensive. It consumes a significant amount for RAM share and affects the overall OS performance. Updates take too much time—sometimes reaching an hour or more—and this requires frequent updates.
Helpful with a little drawback
Android System WebView is a system program that provides faster and easier web experience—without which, opening external links within an app will be so much hassle. It comes pre-installed and runs without user interaction. However, it requires frequent updates to avoid hackers from exploiting any vulnerabilities.