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Update 10/31/2013: The WebViewChromium is now implemented in Android 4.4 KitKat!

If you’ve ever used WebView in Android, you know that its a double edged sword. On the one hand being able to bring the full power of HTML and Javascript into a section of your application frees you up from vastly more complicated native coding that you would have to do to replicate something that can easily be done with standard web technologies. On the other hand, WebView typically uses the standard browser implementation on the device you’re using, which is typically tied to manufacturer’s updates, and therefore lags modern browsers, like Chrome, by a significant margin in terms of HTML5 feature support. Debugging rendering issues in a WebView is also painful to say the least.

To combat this problem, Google has promised “Chromium” implementation for the WebView – essentially using the Chrome rendering engine to power WebView. This was first talked about at Google IO 2012. Android 4.3 shipped yesterday, and WebViewFactory shows experimental support for Chromium. However, the crucial webviewchromium.jar is still missing from the /system/framework directory to enable this support.

So for now, we’re still left where we were. One can only hope for the next release to finally have this working out of the box.

3 Responses to “WebViewChromium – still MIA”

  1. Paul

    Would you need to recompile all apps that use the ‘old’ web view when the chrome version arrives, or will it be a drop in replacement to current apps?

  2. Dan Osipov

    The WebView implementation is not part of your application, so all existing apps should work fine. Some problems may occur with the javascript or css rendering as Chromium evolves, but that’s the same issue on the web today.

  3. Jonathan

    The implementation of chrome webview completely breaks text reflow in favorite third party browsers which doesn’t have a separate rendering engine associated with it. It is really annoying if you want to use some lightweight browsers.

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