December 29th, 2023

Running a React Web App in an Android App

Sometimes you need to run a web app, locally from inside of an Android app. This tutorial will show you how!

Ben Chatelain

Ben Chatelain

Senior Product Engineer

Max Alexander

Max Alexander

Co-Founder/Chief Product Officer

Note: If you're interested the iOS version of this tutorial check out Running a React Web App in an iOS App.

There are times where you need to run your React web app from a mobile phone locally. That means running it completely without the cloud, 100% offline-first, and absolutely zero remote server calls. This tutorial will show you how you can bundle your Vite and React app into an Android app and load it in a WebView. This is what we'll be building:

Vite + React

If you just interested in the final result, you can find the source code for this tutorial on GitHub.


  • Android Studio installed ("Hedgehog" (2023.1.1) or newer)
  • Node.js installed (recommend version 20+)
    • We recommend using nvm if you are on macOS or Linux
    • If you're on Windows, we recommend using nvm-windows

1. Setup your directory structure

For this project you'll need a good directory structure to setup both your web and Android project.

mkdir react-in-mobile

2. Create a React App with Vite

For this tutorial, we will use the very popular Vite tooling to generate our React app. Vite is a very fast, very convenient toolbox for building web applications in React, Vue, Svelte, Vanilla JS and more. It comes with an amazing build system and development hot-module-reloading (also known as HMR) features. For this tutorial, you don't have to use React! You can use other frameworks like Vue or Svelte. Vite supports them all!

2a. Generate Template Project

cd react-in-mobile
npm init vite@latest web -- --template react

This will create a new directory called `web` with a React app inside of it. For this tutorial, we're not going to change too much from the boilerplate React app. At this point you will need to install the dependencies for the web app.

cd web
npm install

2b. Configure Base URL

Open the `vite.config.js` file in the `web` directory that was created. Add the `base` configuration as shown below.

export default defineConfig({
  plugins: [react()],
  base: "./",

2c. Build and run Vite

You can run the app by running `npm run dev` inside of the `web` directory. In your terminal, Vite should print out a URL that you can open in your browser to see the app running. Open the URL and the page should look something like this.


3. Create an Android App with Jetpack Compose

Now that we have our web app, we need to create an Android app to run it in. For this tutorial, we will use Jetpack Compose to build our Android app. Jetpack Compose is a modern UI toolkit for building Android apps. It's a declarative UI framework that allows you to build your UI with Kotlin. It's very similar to React, Vue, and Svelte. If you're familiar with those frameworks, you'll feel right at home with Jetpack Compose.

Note that you need to have Android Studio "Hedgehog" (2023.1.1) to follow along. Older versions of Android Studio do not include Compose in the project templates.

Open Android Studio and click the "New Project" button on the Welcome screen.

Welcome to Android Studio

Select the "Empty Activity" template and click "Next".

Select Empty Activity Android Studio

Review the fields of the "New Project" dialog and edit them as noted below.

  • Enter a name for your app. For this tutorial, we'll use "React in Mobile".
  • In the "Save location" field, click the 🗂️ button on the right and select the `react-in-mobile` directory you created earlier.
  • Append an `/android` folder at the end of the path in the "Save location" field.
  • Click the drop-down next to "Build configuration language" and select "Groovy DSL"
  • Click "Finish".

Empty Activity Jetpack Compose

Android Studio will take some time to sync the project. The `MainActivity.kt` file will open automatically. This is the entry point for your app. You can run the app by clicking the green play button in the top right corner of Android Studio. You should see a blank screen with the text "Hello World!".

At the bottom of `MainActivity.kt`, you'll see a `@Composable` function named `Greeting`. This is some simple Jetpack Compose UI. We'll change this later.

MainActivity Jetpack Compose UI
Note: If you're not familiar with Jetpack Compose, you can checkout this tutorial to learn more.

4. Configure Gradle to Build the Web App

Now we will configure the gradle build system to build the web app and copy it into the Android app's assets directory.

4a. Add the `node-gradle` plugin to the top-level `build.gradle` file

The left pane of Android Studio should be displaying the "Project" tool window showing the directory structure of your project. Expand the "Gradle Scripts" section of the directory tree and open the `build.gradle` file which has "(Project:" after the name.

Project Tool Window

This is the top-level Gradle build file for your project. Add the `node-gradle` plugin to the `plugins` section at the top of the file. It should look like this:

plugins {
    id '' version '8.2.0' apply false
    id '' version '1.9.0' apply false
     * This plugin allows you to run npm commands from gradle.
     * It's used by the buildWeb gradle task in the :app module.
    id "com.github.node-gradle.node" version "7.0.1" apply false

Save the file when you are done editing it.

4b. Apply the `node-gradle` plugin to the `app` module

Now open the other `build.gradle` file which has "(Module :app)" after the name. This is the build file for the app module. Add the `node-gradle` plugin to the `plugins` section at the top of the file. It should look like this:

plugins {
    id ''
    id ''
    id 'com.github.node-gradle.node'

We will continue editing this file in the next two steps.

4c. Update Android SDK versions

Below the `plugins` block you will see the `android` block configuring the app. Check the `compileSdk` and `targetSdk` values. Both of these should be set to a value of `34`. If you are using a version of Android Studio older than Hedgehog these values were likely primed with a lower version. SDK 34 is required for the version of WebKit being used.

4d. Add the `webkit` dependency to the `app` module. This will allow you to use the `WebView` component in your app

Scroll to the bottom of the app's `build.gradle` file and locate the `dependencies` block. Add the `androidx.webkit:webkit` dependency to the `dependencies` block. It should look like this:

dependencies {
  // You will need this to load local JS and CSS files in the WebView
  implementation 'androidx.webkit:webkit:1.9.0'

  //... other dependencies

4e. Now we'll add a few gradle tasks that will build the web app and copy it into the Android app's `assets` directory

Add the following to the bottom of your app module's `build.gradle` file:

 * Node plugin configuration
node {
    // The Node.js project directory location
    // This is where the package.json file and node_modules directory are located

 * This task builds the vite project at ../../web folder.
def buildWeb = tasks.register('buildWeb', NpmTask) {
    description = 'Runs vite build'
    args = ['run', 'build']
    doFirst {
        println 'Executing `npm run build` in ../../web'
    dependsOn npmInstall

 * Removes the assets generated by the `buildWeb` task.
def cleanWeb = tasks.register('cleanWeb', Delete) {
    description = 'Removes web assets generated by vite'
    delete '../../web/dist'

 * This task cleans the Android assets folder.
 * This is necessary because the Android build process does not clean the assets folder.
def cleanAssets = tasks.register('cleanAssets', Delete) {
    description = 'Removes web assets from app module'
    delete 'src/main/assets/dist'

 * This task copies the the vite project at `../../web/dist` folder to the Android assets folder.
def copyDistToAssets = tasks.register('copyDistToAssets', Copy) {
    description = 'Copies web assets into app module'
    from '../../web/dist'
    into 'src/main/assets/dist'
    dependsOn buildWeb
    dependsOn cleanAssets

 * Hooks tasks into running as part of the app module build.
tasks.named("preBuild") {
    dependsOn copyDistToAssets

 * Includes tasks when running a project clean.
tasks.named('clean') {
    dependsOn cleanWeb
    dependsOn cleanAssets

4f. Build the app in Android Studio. (Build > Make Project menu entry)

In the "Build Output" pane (View > Tool Windows > Build menu entry) that appears at the bottom, you should see the web app being built and copied into the Android app's `assets` directory. The logs for the `:app:buildWeb` gradle task will be near the start of the build logs; searching for `buildweb` is the easiest way to find them. The logs should contain something like this:

> Task :app:buildWeb
Executing `npm run build` in ../../web

> web@0.0.0 build
> vite build

vite v4.5.1 building for production...
✓ 34 modules transformed.
rendering chunks...
computing gzip size...
dist/index.html                   0.45 kB │ gzip:  0.29 kB
dist/assets/react-35ef61ed.svg    4.13 kB │ gzip:  2.05 kB
dist/assets/index-d526a0c5.css    1.42 kB │ gzip:  0.73 kB
dist/assets/index-e92ae01e.js   143.41 kB │ gzip: 46.13 kB
✓ built in 406ms

Now our project directory structure should look like this:

├── android
│   └── app
│       ├── build.gradle
│       └── src
│           └── main
│               ├── assets
│               │   └── dist
│               │       ├── assets
│               │       │   ├── index-d526a0c5.css
│               │       │   ├── index-e92ae01e.js
│               │       │   └── react-35ef61ed.svg
│               │       ├── index.html
│               │       └── vite.svg
│               └── src
│                   └── main/java/com/example/reactinmobile
│                       └── MainActivity.kt
└── web
    ├── dist
    │   ├── assets
    │   ├── index.html
    │   └── vite.svg

5. Create a Jetpack Compose view wrapping Android's WebView

Note that `WebView` doesn't have a Jetpack Compose counterpart. So we will need to create a Compose wrapper for it. If you'd like to learn more about how to create a Jetpack Compose wrapper, check out this tutorial.

5a. Create a `ComposeWrappedWebView.kt` file

Back in the Android Studio project pane on the left, expand the `app` module folder, expand the `kotlin+java` folder under it and right-click on the `*.reactinmobile` package folder that contains your `MainActivity.kt` file. In the context menu that appears, hover over "New >" and click on "Kotlin Class/File".

Add Kotlin Class

In the "New Kotlin Class/File" dialog, enter the `ComposeWrappedWebView` name and press return. This will create a new `ComposeWrappedWebView.kt` class file right next to the existing `MainActivity.kt` file.

Delete the class `ComposeWrappedWebView` and the curly braces that follow it. We will replace this with a `ComposeWrappedWebView` function.

Now import some key packages in the `ComposeWrappedWebView.kt` file. These go after the `package` declaration on the 1st line.

// The built in Android WebView
import android.webkit.WebResourceRequest
import android.webkit.WebResourceResponse
import android.webkit.WebView
import android.webkit.WebViewClient

// Import the WebViewAssetLoader
// This is part of the AndroidX WebKit library
// The gradle dependency is `androidx.webkit:webkit:1.9.0`
// See the gradle file for more details
import androidx.webkit.WebViewAssetLoader
import androidx.webkit.WebViewAssetLoader.AssetsPathHandler

5b. Create a `ComposeWrappedWebView` Composeable function

Now we will create a Jetpack Compose wrapper for the `WebView` component. This will allow us to use the `WebView` component in our Jetpack Compose app. Add the following code to your `ComposeWrappedWebView.kt` file:

fun ComposeWrappedWebView() {
        factory = { context ->
            val assetLoader = WebViewAssetLoader.Builder()
                .addPathHandler("/assets/", AssetsPathHandler(context))

            WebView(context).apply {
                layoutParams = ViewGroup.LayoutParams(

                 * Enable JavaScript in the WebView
                 * This is required to load JS in the WebView
                 * The compiler will warn you that this can cause XSS security issues
                 * but since we are loading our own assets, this is not a concern
                 * hence the `@Suppress("SetJavaScriptEnabled")` annotation
                settings.javaScriptEnabled = true

                webViewClient =  object : WebViewClient() {
                    override fun shouldInterceptRequest(
                        view: WebView,
                        request: WebResourceRequest
                    ): WebResourceResponse? {
                        return assetLoader.shouldInterceptRequest(request.url)

                 * This is the URL that will be loaded when the WebView is first
                 * The assets directory is served by a domain ``
                 * Learn more about the WebViewAssetLoader here:
        update = {}

After pasting this code several class names will show in red with an error message when you hover over them with the mouse cursor.

Missing import problem

Click on the `@Composable` annotation, hold the option (⌥) key and press return. Let go of option and press return again or click on the selected "Import class 'Composable'" quick fix.

Import Quick Fix

This will automatically add the missing import for the `Composable` class. Repeat these steps to add imports for the other class and function names showing in red (`AndroidView` and `ViewGroup`).

After adding these imports, click the elephant button in the upper right corner to "Sync Project with Gradle Files" (also available under the "File" menu).

Gradle Sync

ComposeWrappedWebView Commentary

The `WebViewAssetLoader` is used to load assets from the `assets` directory in the Android app. If you take a look at the `copyDistToAssets` gradle task in the `app/build.gradle` file, you'll see that it copies the `web/dist` directory into the app's `assets` directory. This is how the app can load the React app from inside the Android app. However, the index file references local JS and CSS files using relative paths (due to the `base` URL we added to the Vite config).

<script type="module" crossorigin src="./assets/index-7db404a0.js"></script>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="./assets/index-d526a0c5.css" />

The `WebViewAssetLoader` serves a locally accessible domain `` that the WebView can load directly.

The Android View `layoutParams` configuration is used to make the WebView fill the entire screen.

layoutParams = ViewGroup.LayoutParams(

In addition, JavaScript is enabled in the WebView. This is required to load the JS files in the WebView. The compiler will warn you that this can cause XSS security issues but since we are loading our own assets, this is not a concern, hence the `@Suppress("SetJavaScriptEnabled")` annotation.

settings.javaScriptEnabled = true

6. Add the ComposeWrappedWebView to your MainActivity

Now let's load the `ComposeWrappedWebView` in our `MainActivity`. Replace the code in your `MainActivity.kt` file with the following:

class MainActivity : ComponentActivity() {
    override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
        setContent {
            ReactInMobileTheme {
                // A surface container using the 'background' color from the theme
                    modifier = Modifier.fillMaxSize(),
                    color = MaterialTheme.colorScheme.background
                ) {

7. Run the app in the Android Emulator or on a physical device

You can run the app in the Android Emulator or on a physical device. You should see the React app running in the WebView.

Now we're done! You can now run your React app locally in an Android app. This is what the final result should look like:

Final Emulator

At this point you have a React app running inside an Android WebView! Changes made to the app in the `web` folder will automatically be copied into the Android app each time you build and run it. This allows you to quickly iterate on the app using the local Vite web server and a deskop browser. Then, you can spin it up in the Android WebView to check layout and test the app.

Be sure to checkout the final source code on GitHub

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