Google Chrome app is no longer the WebView provider in Android 10
Android’s WebView feature has had a rocky history and has morphed several times in the past few years. Android 4.4 KitKat first introduced a Chromium-based WebView component in 2013. Back then, it was built into the system, but it became a separately-updated component later down the road, with Android 5.0 Lollipop. With Android 7.0 Nougat, however, all WebView-related duties were just handled by Google Chrome in an effort to simplify things. For Google, this seemed like the logical way forward: relaying WebView to Chrome meant one less app to update or care about (even though they still updated the app: it was still there, it was just not used), but with the latest Android release they seem to be reversing course and going full circle again.
With Android 10, Google has reverted to the pre-Nougat behavior, and WebView is now handled by a separate app again. This newer implementation, according to a Google engineer, is called “Trichrome”. This doesn’t seem to be any different from the pre-Nougat WebView implementation; it’s updated separately from Google Chrome, and still uses a Chromium base, which means that you shouldn’t notice anything different if you’re a regular user.
“Chrome is no longer used as a WebView implementation in Q+. We’ve moved to a new model for sharing common code between Chrome and WebView (called “Trichrome”) which gives the same benefits of reduced download and install size while having fewer weird special cases and bugs.”
There is one key difference, however, and it’s the fact that, just like Chrome, this WebView component will also now have 4 separate release channels available in the Play Store: Stable, Beta, Dev, and Canary, which should be updated pretty much in line with its Chrome counterparts. You’ll also be able to switch between these release channels by downloading them, going into the “WebView implementation” section in Developer Options, and changing your WebView provider.
As we said before, it doesn’t matter for end-users as they’re not supposed to notice anyway. But in fewer words, this means that Google Chrome is back to being only a browser and the separate WebView component now handles all WebView-related tasks.
What do you think about this change? Let us know down in the comments.
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