Jan 12 AT 7:47 PM Dima Aryeh 8 Comments

Google no longer patching WebView on Android versions older than KitKat

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Android’s WebView is used to render pages and is a critical part of the operating system. For better security, Google changed the version of WebView with a newer one in Android 4.4 KitKat, and Google has said it will no longer support the old versions. This is a big blow for the older operating systems, which still power 60 percent of all Android devices.

Many new exploits have been found in the version of WebView that Jelly Bean and older devices use, and Google uses to patch them fairly quickly. But now, Google is saying that these versions of Android will no longer be patched. Or at least Google will not be working on patches, but may consider a patch from a third-party to be sent out.

Considering how a majority of all Android devices run old operating systems, this is a bold move for Google. It would be far more understandable if most devices ran a new, supported version of Android. But in this case, Google is abandoning a massive amount of Android devices that aren’t even very old. What are your thoughts on the issue? Leave a comment!

Source: Rapid 7

Dima Aryeh is a Russian obsessed with all things tech. He does photography, is an avid phone modder (who uses an AT&T Galaxy Note II), a heavy gamer (both PC and 360), and an aspiring home mechanic. He is also an avid fan of music, especially power metal.

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  • KC

    Drop Android and move over Palm OS.

  • pscamodio

    The google message here is clear for the OEM.
    Google is already fixing those problems. With new android version. If the oem do not want to update to the new Android release is up to them to fix.
    If many oem want to keep using kit-kat than they can send patch to fix WebView problems.
    It’s easy to not update software and then ask the developer to fix “the old release”
    And many custom firmware have showed that the update to Kit-Kat or better Lollipop for older device is possible. Look at the Nexus 7 (2012)

  • nirmilamed

    The blow effects customers, rather oem. google wants everybody using their latest rom, however only big companies like HTC MOTOROLA LG and SAMSUNG get their source code before official release. so google not so sharing with less over size companies. moreover, oem not really into updating our old phones if they can make us buy newer phone for latest version.

  • Mike

    First B&N Nook and now Google? When I buy a tablet or phone I take care of them and expect to use them for years. When Nook stopped support for my 1 year old tablet and apps would no longer update and work I stopped using them and stopped telling friends how much better Nook was over Kindle.
    Now google is going to do the same thing. Seems like a bad move at a time when Microsoft is offering devices running windows at such bargain prices.
    I have been debating whether to buy a new Androd or try out the new microsoft system. Looks like Google just made my mind up for me.
    When I buy any product I expect to use it for years and expect support.

  • fab

    This is necessary. How ridiculous are manufacturers still producing phones which have an older version of Android? Doesn’t make sense. So Google is putting their foot on manufacturers by pushing this move.

  • SGB101

    We here, update our phone regularly and or rom alot, so are always upto date.

    There is alot of people that will keep a phone for 5 years and or just buy cheap phones and keep a few years, these people are non tech savvy and the most at risk. So dropping security support for an os that is only about 13months out of date (and still being sold) could really hurt brand android .

    It would cost Google little to keep security patched. I think this is a bad move that could potentially blow up in their face.

  • Lois

    You don’t have to be non-tech savvy to not want to buy a new phone every year or two. My phone is 2 years old, and stuck at 4.1. If I update, I either pay full price or lose my grandfathered unlimited data plan. And then, since I’m not rooted and can’t do a full backup, I have to rely on the partial backups/restores available, and need to do a lot of manual configuring whenever I change phones. My phone wasn’t cheap, and I want to get lots of use out of it before I swap in a new one.

  • yvolk

    AFAIK old WebView was based on a WebKit code, which supposedly has its community?!
    I guess that community (sponsored by corporations…) should become a source and adriver for that patches.