Android apps like Gmail are crashing and 'WebView' is to blame

Richard Lawler
·Senior News Editor
·2 min read
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 23: In this photo illustration, the logos of the applications, Google Maps, Google and Gmail are displayed on the screen of a tablet on October 23, 2018 in Paris, France. After being fined 4.3 billion euros last June for a dominant position in research with its Android mobile operating system, Google has decided to comply by charging for its applications and Play Store to manufacturers who want to sell their mobile devices in Europe, and this without integrating Google Search and Google Chrome. From October 29, Google will implement a fairly complex license system for manufacturers who sell Android-powered mobile devices in Europe and want to install the Play Store and its other applications. (Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

This afternoon, a number of Android users (self included) suddenly saw notifications pop up on their devices saying that apps had stopped running. Many of the apps throwing errors suddenly can't be opened, and they include important ones like Gmail, a number of banking apps, Google Pay and others.

There are reports of the problem on DownDetector, Reddit and Twitter, and Google's Workspace Cloud Status Dashboard confirms they're aware of problems with the Gmail app on Android. According to the status message, there will be an update on the issue by 8:05 PM ET (check below for more information).

If you're having this problem, something that's worked for many people is to go into the Google Play Store on your device and uninstall the latest update to a system app called "Android System WebView." It's the app that provides Chrome-like browser rendering within apps, and according to developers and end users, many of the errors people are seeing indicate the problem resides there.

Uninstalling the updates got my phone to calm down and go back to normal, and it may work for your device. As noted below, Google has confirmed an issue with WebView and is working on a fix now.

Update (8:26 PM ET): Google has confirmed the issue and its link to the WebView app. According to a spokesperson, "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."

Update (3/23 5:30 AM ET): Google's status page now gives the all clear, and instructs affected users to open the Play Store and download the latest update for WebView as well as Google Chrome to avoid errors. I tried this on my phone and initially downloaded the previous update that was causing problems, but after I checked again and downloaded the new update everything is working smoothly once again.

Google:

The problem with Gmail has been resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support. Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better.

Updating Android System WebView and Google Chrome via Google Play should now resolve the issue for all users.

1. Navigate to Play Store app

2. Search for Android System WebView

(https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.webview)

3. Select the "Update" option

4. Repeat these steps for Google Chrome (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.android.chrome)