WebView team maintains a “shell”—a thin interface over the WebView APIs—to exercise WebView functionality. The System WebView Shell (AKA “shell browser,” “WebView shell”) is a standalone app implemented in chromium. While often used for manual testing, we also use the shell for automated tests (see our layout and page cycler tests).
WebView shell only requires
target_os = "android". The simplest option is to just reuse the same out/ folder and GN args you would normally use for WebView or Chrome for Android.
For the emulator: the emulator comes with WebView shell preinstalled with a different signing key, so installation will fail with
INSTALL_FAILED_UPDATE_INCOMPATIBLE: Package ... signatures do not match previously installed version. You can workaround this in your GN args with
system_webview_shell_package_name = "org.chromium.my_webview_shell".
Your local build will install alongside the preinstalled WebView shell. You may hide the preinstalled shell by running
adb root followed by
adb shell pm disable org.chromium.webview_shell in your terminal (copy-paste the command as-written, don't use the package name from the GN arg above).
$ autoninja -C out/Default system_webview_shell_apk
$ out/Default/bin/system_webview_shell_apk install
# Launch a URL from the commandline, or open the app from the app launcher $ out/Default/bin/system_webview_shell_apk launch "https://www.google.com/" # For more commands: $ out/Default/bin/system_webview_shell_apk --help
system_webview_shell_apkdoes not support modifying CLI flags. See https://crbug.com/959425. Instead, you should modify WebView's flags by following commandline-flags.md.
We maintain a public archive of prebuilt WebView shell APKs. This saves you the effort of setting up a chromium checkout just for the sake of compiling this test app. You can download a prebuilt APK from this cloud storage bucket: https://storage.googleapis.com/chromium-browser-snapshots/index.html?prefix=Android/
Click on the “name” column header twice. This will force the page to sort the newest builds toward the top. Click the folder with the largest number, ignoring the
chrome-android.zip to download the archived APKs. Unzip this and look for a file named
Now you can install this like any other APK:
# Install adb if it's not already installed: $ which adb || sudo apt install adb # Replace this path with the path to your downloaded APK $ adb install -d -r ~/Downloads/chrome-android/SystemWebViewShell.apk
INSTALL_FAILED_UPDATE_INCOMPATIBLE: Package ... signatures do not match previously installed versionerror message. This may require switching to a physical device or compiling the WebView shell from source (see the troubleshooting steps below).
This may be happening because the shell is preinstalled on your device (ex. this is the case on all emulators). The easiest way to workaround this is to change the shell's package name in a local build.
If you don‘t want to (or can’t) change the package name, then you may be able to modify your device's system image. See the manual steps for removing system apps and replace com.google.android.webview with org.chromium.webview_shell.