Android phones suddenly started throwing notifications on 23/03/2021, indicating that certain apps have crashed. The main issue of the bug is now revealed. The problem was caused by the Android WebView (an extension of Android’s View class) app. As a result, only android interface got affected. Therefore it was advised to users to use the Web desktop interface for the time being. Samsung’s US support advised to disable the Android WebView for their users and then restart the phone.
The WebView app assists other apps in displaying the web pages. When we see a link for Facebook, Amazon, etc. and then tap on it, the link opens on the top of the app without requiring to open Google Chrome explicitly. This is the function of Android WebView. So we cannot view such features if we disable the app.
Google confirms an issue with WebView is crashing many Android apps
Many Android apps have suddenly started crashing in the past few hours, with apps throwing the dreaded “keep closing” warning messages when users try to open them. Twitter and Reddit forums are filled with reports of apps crashing. DownDetector is also showing a big surge in outage reports for Gmail and Amazon. Desktop Gmail Web interface and Google Workspace services are not affected.
As many users soon found out, the issue stemmed from a recent update to the Android WebView. Android WebView is a system component that allows developers to display web pages inside their apps. It comes preinstalled on every modern Android device and gets regularly updated via the Play Store with the latest security enhancements and fixes. It seems a buggy update might have broken the WebView component. Simply uninstalling the Android WebView updates fixes the crashing issue (via Engadget), as it did for a vast majority of affected users:
All of a sudden, loads of Android apps started crashing for me this evening including Amazon Shopping, Gmail. Turns out the culprit is an Android System Webview update. Search for it in the play store and hit uninstall and it fixes the problem. #android #crash #amazon #webview
— Craig Rouse (@craigrouse) March 22, 2021
If you’re affected by the issue, open the Play Store, search for Android WebView, and uninstall the updates. Alternatively, you can also go to “Apps” or “Applications” from your device Settings, find the Android WebView app among the system apps, and uninstall its latest updates.
A Google spokesperson confirmed the company was aware of the issue and was working on a fix:
We are aware of an issue with WebView causing some apps on Android to crash. We are currently working to fully validate the scope and a fix is in progress.
As per the most recent update posted on Google Workspace Status Dashboard, Google was still investigating this issue.
Google hasn’t shared any update on the fix at the time of writing this article. The onus remains on Android users to resolve this issue by uninstalling recent Android WebView updates.
Update: Crashing issue fixed with new WebView update
Google has shared an update regarding the app crashing issue:
“We have resolved the issue with WebView that caused some apps on Android to crash for some users. Updating Android System WebView and Google Chrome via Google Play should now resolve the issue.”