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Here's why your Android apps were randomly crashing last month

New measures should largely mitigate future issues, too.
News
By
April 21, 2021
Google Pixel 4a upper half of display with apps
David Imel / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Google has detailed the reasons for last month’s spate of Android app crashes.
  • A WebView configuration issue was the root cause.
  • Google plans to improve its WebView and Chrome rollout measures to mitigate future issues.

It’s been nearly a month since Android users faced random app crashes, thanks to an Android System WebView issue. Now, Google has finally issued details on how and why this key Android system process brought the OS to its knees.

In a statement issued this week by Google’s Workspace Team (via 9to5Google), the issue was traced back to “Chrome and WebView’s experiment and configuration technology.” This affected apps’ ability to correctly display web content, leading to crashes of Gmail and other Google apps.

“The fix required distribution of updated binaries for Chrome and WebView; these new releases were made available for distribution via Google Play for automated and manual updates,” the statement continues. A new update to WebView was available a day after the crashes were reported. Chrome also received an update promptly afterward.

While the problem was promptly remedied, Google wants to ensure it doesn’t happen again. It vowed to implement measures to mitigate future WebView-related app crashes. These include improving rollout policies, “accelerating” WebView and Chrome updates in the Play Store, and implementing a “safe mode” for WebView. The latter will ensure WebView reverts to an earlier known working state if any problems arise.

As mentioned by Google, the recent updates to Chrome and Android System WebView remedy the app crash issue. So if you still find that some apps are crashing on your device, consider updating these services.