Surfin' Safari

Android uses WebKit

Posted by David Carson on Monday, November 12th, 2007 at 5:01 pm

Many of you have seen the announcement of the Android Mobile Platform ( followed by today’s release of the SDK ( We (Android) were happy to highlight the use of the WebKit engine as the rendering core for Android’s browser. We have been working on our mobile implementation of WebKit for quite some time. A few changes that we made to WebKit, which make it more suitable for mobile devices, have been submitted to the Tip Of Tree prior to the release of the SDK. Two features we added are a two pass layout and frame flattening. The two pass layout renders the page without waiting for blocking elements, such as external CSS and external JavaScript, and then renders the page again with those resources have been downloaded to the mobile device. This allows the user to quickly see initial content on slow, low bandwidth networks. This change has already made its way into SVN, check out the WTF_USE_LOW_BANDWIDTH_DISPLAY flag. Frame flattening flattens web pages that use frames into what seems like one view. Presently this code only resides in the Android’s code base, though we plan to roll this into SVN. We have made some minor changes for timers and chunk size, which is clearly identified in SVN with the MOBILE flag.

Another interesting change we made, which is not mobile specific, was to make the canvas tag platform independent. Again we are working on migrating this to SVN.

Most changes made to WebKit are clearly identified with a #ifdef ANDROID_[feature name]. Presently the WebKit code base is published as a tar ball here:, though going forward we will work on moving all changes and improvements back to the WebKit SVN code base.

Please take a look at the SDK and let us know what you think. We would love to hear your comments on the browser implementation and/or any other elements of the Android Platform.

4 Responses to “Android uses WebKit”

  1. Pingback from Android en acción: ¿3D? ¿Un dock? ¿En mi celular? - FayerWayer:

    […] Pero lo primero es lo primero: ¿Me volví loco o eso en la pantalla de espera es un dock? Ya, está bien, en la BlackBerry hay algo parecido, pero diablos que se parece a OS X — sin el encanto visual, claro está. Me gustó, en todo caso, como la interfaz maneja como un ticker los mensajes de IM y que el navegador esté basado en WebKit. […]

  2. Pingback from Android uses WebKit « A Penguin in the Orchard:

    […] Android uses WebKit (Via Surfin’ Safari.) […]

  3. Pingback from The Amazing Rise of WebKit Mobile « GigaOM:

    […] November 13, 2007 at 10:30 AM PT | No comments The Google Android SDK, released yesterday, confirmed what had been long been rumored: Google’s mobile platform uses WebKit, an open source browser […]

  4. caesarsgrunt Says:

    Will the WebKit detect javascript be updated to detect Android as well as iPhone?

    Also – is there a way (other than a PHP browser detect) to make Android and the iPhone use my mobile stylesheet rather than my screen one? The screen stylesheet just dosen’t work properly on a screen that small (due to my use of position:fixed for my header and footer).