List of Android WebViews

Last week Niels Leenheer of HTML5 Test told me he’d released a simple Android app that mimics a browser but runs in the device’s WebView. This is ideal for testing WebViews, a topic I’ve ignored so far.

I downloaded the app to all my Android 4/5 phones except for the Huawei C8813 (Chinese firmware) where Google Play won’t run, and the LG L5, where the app crashes when you try to load a page, and catalogued which browser the WebView is (or purports to be). Here are the results:

Device Android Default WebView
HTC One X 4.2.2 Android WebKit Android WebKit
Wolfgang Whoop 4.2.2 Android WebKit Android WebKit
Samsung Galaxy Note 4.1.2 Android WebKit Android WebKit
Sony Xperia S 4.1.2 Android WebKit Android WebKit
HTC M8 5.0.1 Chromium 33 Chromium 37
Samsung Galaxy S4 4.4.2 Chromium 28 Chromium 30
Motorola Moto G 4.4.4 Chrome Chromium 33
Nexus 7 4.4.4 Chrome Chromium 33
Nexus 4 Cyanogen 4.4.4 Chromium 33 Chromium 33
LG L70 4.4.2 Chromium 30 Chromium 30
Xiaomi M2 4.1.1 Chromium 34 or 35 Android WebKit

Niels told me how Google has been handling WebViews so far, and nothing I encountered contradicts his scheme:

  1. Before Android 4.4 all devices run Android WebKit as their WebView. (Is this the same Android WebKit as their default browser? Don’t know yet.)
  2. From Android 4.4 the WebView is Chromium 30.
  3. From Android 4.4.3 the WebView is Chromium 33.
  4. From Android 5 the WebView is Chromium 37. In addition, the promise is that the Android 5 WebView will be updated to newer versions app-wise, i.e. without a firmware update. I will keep an eye on that.

I assume device vendors could write their own WebView if they want. So far I haven’t found a trace yet of that happening, but let’s give them a chance to get used to porting and changing Chromium and revisit this question near the end of this year.

Next question: how to cram all these WebViews into my compatibility tables, which are overflowing as it is.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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