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Google Adds Beta Channel of In-App WebView Browser to Google Play

February 13, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

 

When it comes to web browsers, Google has it covered for the most part. For a long time the browser that shipped with Android was pretty decent, but since Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich launched, we’ve been enjoying Google Chrome on our smartphones and tablets. In fact, for a long time now, Chrome has been powered by Google’s own Blink layout engine and it’s made its way into a lot of other browsers from the likes of Amazon and Opera. A similar sort of engine is used for the web browser that’s used to render web pages within Android apps and games. In the spirit of Chromium (the Open Source browser that becomes Google Chrome), there’s now a Beta Channel of the WebView browser available for developers in the Play Store.

This is only really of any concern for developers, as such not everyone can see it. Those interested can join the WebView Beta Community to become a tester of the channel, but this is definitely not for the average user. You might be wondering just why you should care about this. Well, like I keep saying, if you’re not a developer, you don’t need to care. However, this is an interesting move for the Android team. Since Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google can update the WebView browser independently, allowing them to push security updates and new features without updating the OS as a whole. As such, Google is offering this Beta channel for Android developers to offer feedback and take a look at what’s on the horizon.

Essentially, this is a sort of “heads-up” release from the Android team and Google here. It gives developers the chance to find out what’s coming next and to make sure their apps and games still work just fine with the latest version of the WebView browser. For a lot of developers, this will be a welcome surprise, but it does give them one more thing to take care of when dotting their Is and crossing their Ts. Of course, having a browser that’ll be updated more regularly and should therefore be a lot more secure is probably worth the effort.