A large number of Android users over the past few hours have been encountering continuous Gmail and other app shutdowns, with some finding that uninstalling Android System WebView will stop the crashing.
Update 3/23: Just after 11 p.m. PT on Monday, Google issued a permanent fix for the app crashing issue. It involves updating both Android System WebView and Chrome to version 89.0.4389.105:
Google has since confirmed that the unexpected app crashes were the result of a bad update to the WebView system component, which was pulled yesterday evening and replaced by the new versions mentioned above.
The company also provided a fix for rare cases on Android 10 or 11 where a manual update of WebView or Chrome “may fail to complete.” Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > Google Play Store > Storage & cache > Clear Data. You can then proceed to follow the update steps, with Google noting how this workaround clears some of your Play Store settings, including parental controls and auto-update preferences.
Original 3/22: This issue starts with Android throwing up prompts that warn how apps “keep closing.” Applications that are in the background and not currently open are also affected.
If this bug is impacting your device, all Android apps that use the WebView system component, which is responsible for showing web content and is updated alongside Chrome every few weeks, will keep crashing. This includes Gmail — which many users are seeing broken right now — and many other third-party applications. Google has acknowledged the email issue and is actively working on a fix. Users are advised to visit the web interface:
“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.” – Google spokesperson
The immediate solution to this problem involves finding the Play Store listing for Android System WebView either by visiting this link directly, or going to the “My apps & games” page, swiping left to the “Installed” tab, and scrolling down — it should be one of the first apps. After that, tap “Uninstall” and confirm on the prompt that appears.
If that does not work for whatever reason, another course of action is going to system Settings > Apps & notifications > See all apps > Android System WebView > tap the three-dot overflow menu in the top-right corner > Uninstall updates > OK. These instructions are for Android 11 on Pixel phones, but it should be a similar process on other OS versions and OEM devices.
Following those steps should stop the series of crashes, with Samsung support recommending the same course of action today. It’s not affecting all users, but it’s pretty widespread across Pixel and other devices.
Google looks to have rolled out a bad update to Android System WebView. While this particular release is buggy, it’s important to keep WebView on the latest version for security fixes once the problem has been resolved.