Updating Android WebView on a Google-free phone

I am trying various internet browsers. Firefox (IceCatMobile) is quite slow, so I started to use Lighting which I like a lot because of its bookmark and tab handling. I am also trying FOSS Browser, also pretty fast.
Now there was a post that the later 2 are using the built in Android System WebView (aka Chrome). On my Fairphone 2 Open I have version 44 running. According to Guhgel Play one has to upgrade the WebView, which is not performed automatically. Guhgel has version 66 or so on the web. I would like to update this service to stay on track with vulnerabilities but it says “Guhgel services required”, which I do not have and do not want on my device.
So, did anyone try doing this upgrade? Any experience if this works with a Guhgel free device?
Or, are there alternatives of fast and secure browsers?

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I improved the title to better reflect the post’s content.

Hello @DietmarP, you can try to use Privacy Browser here : a browser that disables Javascript and Cookies by default, which is done for privacy reasons but you can choose to enable them whenever it is needed.

It uses WebView as well, but you can also choose to use an other user-agent such as Firefox. But is it not possible to switch user-agents with the two others browser ?

That also relies on system WebView. OP asks for how to update it, not for other browsers.

System WebView in FP Open is built (and signed) by Fairphone, and because of the Android Security Model, it’s impossible to update it with a WebView built (and signed) by Gobble. As Fairphone Open updates itself monthly with platform security patches, you should expect vulnerabilities to be fixed, though.

My setup: Lineage OS ships WebView 57.x and the system is updated weekly. I use Firefox Klar as a proxy browser (volatile sessions with embedded tracking protection and a neutral useragent) with JavaScript and custom fonts disabled, and whenever I need my bookmarks or whatever, I “share” the webpage with Fennec F-Droid equiped with a handful of privacy-focused extensions.

Thanks @Roboe,
so the current version of WebView in FP Open is save (as can be).
As I am happy with Lighting I will stay with this browser. When FP upgrades to Android 7 there will surely an update included.

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On Android 7 (which will soon be available for the FP2), if you install Chrome, you can select it as the webview engine in the developer settings: https://www.chromium.org/_/rsrc/1484162575530/developers/androidwebview/android-webview-beta/screen.png
This allows you to use a more recent Chrome webview.

Unfortunately, I think it only works with Chrome (com.android.chrome) and not with Chromium.

I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Are you saying that every other user-agent that you can choose with Privacy Browser relies on WebView (so WebView would be more than a user-agent) ? If yes, thank you for the info, I didn’t know…

User-agent switchers only change what is reported to the server that data is requested from. The processing of the data that is returned will still be done by whatever engine the browser is built on - in the case of Privacy Browser, this is handled by WebView.
The use of changing what is reported to the server used to be getting around those ‘this site only works in IE6’ blocks, but is increasingly done from a privacy point of view (as user agent information can contain information that can help profile/track you). What it doesn’t do, is change the underlying engine and render the page as it would in what you the user agent string to.


Yup, I subscribe everything @Johannes said above, :+1:

Thank you @Johannes for your explanation ! I’ll die more clever :wink:

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