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Facebook’s New Android In-App Web Browser is Available Now4 min read

Facebook is getting ready to release a new in-app browser for Android. This new browser will replace the standard Android System WebView with a more durable option.

Facebook is different from other Android apps because it opens pages in the app itself. Other apps open web links in the user’s chosen browser.

Facebook found a problem with how it handles links to websites outside of Facebook. Users update the Facebook app more often than the software that runs the in-app browser, so Facebook knew there was a problem.

On Meta’s engineering blog, the announcement states:

“Our in-app browser for Facebook on Android has historically relied on an Android System WebView based on Chromium, the open source project that powers many browsers on Android and other operating systems.

… over the past few years, we’ve observed that many Android users are updating their Facebook app but not updating their Chrome and WebView apps, which may result in security risks and a negative user experience.”

The company says that its reliance on Android System WebView makes it vulnerable to zero-day exploits and causes the Facebook app to crash.

To fix these problems, Facebook made a separate Chromium-based WebView that can update simultaneously as updates to the Facebook app.

Facebook says switching to a custom browser can improve stability, security, and performance, among other things.

Advantages of a new browser built into the Facebook app 

Performance

Facebook says that its in-app browser makes it easier to load web pages and start Instant Games through Facebook Gaming:

“Our Webview also improves on rendering performance… Because we are able to constrain how the WebView gets displayed within our apps, we can enable the GPU process for our WebView. This improves rendering performance and stability of web pages and Instant Games.”

Stability

Facebook says a custom browser solution should make apps less likely to crash.

When Android’s WebView software is updated at the system level, apps may crash because Android needs to make sure that all instances of WebView are stopped so it can install the latest version.

Because the Facebook app has its version of WebView, Android no longer has to crash Facebook when updating the System WebView.

Security

Facebook can send users the latest Chromium security patches directly through a custom in-app browser. These patches are installed when users update the Facebook app.

This ensures that people don’t visit pages with old software, which could be a security risk.

To sum up,

The above benefits may sound like technical jargon if you don’t know much about the Android operating system.

You should know that this change will make the Facebook app safer, faster, and less likely to crash when people look at websites.

Facebook isn’t the first Android app to use its browser inside the app. There are also versions from Mozilla, Microsoft, and Samsung.

The company says that this change won’t affect how people choose to protect their privacy on Meta services.

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