Q: Do we plan to auto-update Android's Chrome-based WebView?

A: Evergreen browsers (like Chrome and Firefox) auto-update and keep their users up to date so they can view the web through a modern feature set. As a developer, this ensures your choices aren’t limited to a lowest-common denominator browser from years ago, but rather are keeping pace with the modern web. Your apps inside a WebView are just as important and deserve a runtime that keeps users up to date. There are large engineering and logistical challenges, but we're not quite there yet and are working on it.
Mevlüt Bayrak's profile photoBrian Blakely's profile photoPhistucK Productions's profile photoJoshua J. Drake's profile photo
Wow, great to hear that you guys are working on it!
Great to hear that. Some large engineering challenges look easy when you realized that maybe you just needed to think out of the box ;-) If we can put people on the International Space Station I'm sure we can make a webview that can be upgraded as an OS block ;-) Thanks for sharing our concern and for looking for a solution. 
Very excited to hear you are working on this. An evergreen WebView in Android would be a huge leap forward for the platform!
The problem comes from the other direction: Now you have to maintain your web app to keep up with the moving target that is your platform.
+Shawn Kovalchick That's always been true, unless you plan on requiring your users to use down-level versions of their operating systems to run your app.
True, and I prefer the evergreen method, but maintaining backwards compatibility has always been primarily the burden of the OS.  Within reason.
If the web engine is updating in the right way there is no need for compatibility mode. I understand compatibility mode from Android WebView to Chrome Webview but from Chrome 30 to 31 should not be necessary as it isn't on the browser 
This is fantastic news! thanks for making the web a better place and a first class citizen.  excited to hear more during the chrome summit as to how you're improving chrome and the web API to allow for better mobile experiences.  
I don't really see why is a bigger issue to keep the engine up to date for webview apps compared to Web apps (running in browsers). If apps stop working properly after an update, it'll get bad reviews.
When a developer choose the webview as their target, they should have the same compatibility concerns as when developing Web apps. 
+Emmanuel Pirsch I think it has to do with the way WebView is built into android which is typically on a read-only partition...
Don't forget about those of us who opt to use Chrome Beta!
For start would be nice to have a better documentation on what exactly the webview can or cannot do. If there is one please point me to it. 
Why can't we have an instance of Chrome running inside an app, so when Chrome gets updated, so does WebView? Why does something operating at an arguably higher level of abstraction than Google Play Services not be replaced with one similarly brilliant stroke on all devices from 2.2 to 4.4?

The Play Services took out the venom from accusations Android of fragmentation. A reworked WebView should take some venom out of demands for Chrome Web Store access on Android.
How about getting the Chrome WebView into the support library?
I imagine the best solution would be an opt in - there would be two versions of the Chrome based WebView - the one that originally came with the operating system and the one that is automatically updated along with the browser itself (so the code might even be shared!). Any application can then choose whether to keep things 'old, nostalgic and stable', or embrace the latest and greatest.

That would be ideal in my opinion. Since every new version is faster, most (new?) applications would probably choose the latter and backward compatibility is fully maintained for those who require it.
+Alon Gothshmidt Imagine if all traditional Web Apps did this; it would be horrible, like a global corporate intranet.  Chrome Team should not be taking notes from IE Team on this (i.e. X-UA-Compatible).
+Ankit Pati If devs could bundle an auto-updating WebView with their work, decoupled from the OS, that would be a great interim step until the OS-level WebView gains auto-update.

Assuming the timeframe on this feature is long enough to make that solution worthwhile...
+Brian Blakely But we are not talking about traditional web applications, we are talking about native applications that employ WebView for whatever reasons. True web applications can update themselves immediately. Native applications do not have that privilege, so they would have the option to choose if the always up to date model is right for them.
+Brian Blakely Regarding bundling their own version of WebView, while I believe it is already possible, it is not practical - it would enlarge the application by an order of magnitude or so. The disk space is limited and I bet it would hurt performance. Besides, having a fork of Chromium in every application sounds horrible, to say the least.
Many browsers already do that today. Chrome for Android is among them.
+Joshua J. Drake I was talking about non browser native applications. Browsers are supposed to do that, this is not a fork, this is the browser itself and the whole purpose of the application. What is your point?
(Unless you were not replying to me)
If the operating system provided a browser component that could be updated more regularly, they wouldn't need to do it that way.
+Joshua J. Drake I disagree. Firefox wants to have a presence on Android as well, regardless of whether the default browser is constantly up to date and super great or not. Even iPhone has more browsers (albeit nothing can be made the default browser). Alternative browsers exist for different purposes or types of business.
Obviously some browsers that are not dependent on blink/webkit/etc would still need to bring their engine along.

The main problem with the built in WebView not getting updated is that it remains vulnerable to all the bugs disclosed on http://googlechromereleases.blogspot.com/search/label/Stable%20updates (which have public fixes, test cases, etc). If you need more perspective, see http://www.droidsec.org/news/2014/02/26/on-the-webview-addjsif-saga.html (specifically attack vectors).
+Joshua J. Drake Of course having an always up to date (security wise and feature wise) WebView would be incredible for the user in terms of security and for the web and for some applications in terms of features, however, as I mentioned before, web applications can always be up to date while native applications are updated only if the user decides (or is able) to update them. Yes, you can argue that using an outdated application is the problem of the user, but some applications require new operating system versions (for newer APIs and such, or due to the interest of the company of not investing in older operating system versions) and not every device can upgrade the operating system (due to the interest of the carrier or the manufacturer). In the end, the user gets screwed with an application that does not work well (or at all) because a component (be it WebView or any other component) in the operating system does not operate in the way the application (that is supposed to be compatible with this operating system) expects.
+Alon Gothshmidt With the amount of upgrade churn out there this problem is probably undecidable. As it is, someone could install an app that screws up everything anyway.
Add a comment...