This practical codelab is part of Unit 1: Get started in the Android Developer Fundamentals (Version 2) course. You will get the most value out of this course if you work through the codelabs in sequence:

Introduction

In a previous section you learned about explicit intents. In an explicit intent, you carry out an activity in your app, or in a different app, by sending an intent with the fully qualified class name of the activity. In this section you learn more about implicit intents and how to use them to carry out activities.

With an implicit intent, you initiate an activity without knowing which app or activity will handle the task. For example, if you want your app to take a photo, send email, or display a location on a map, you typically don't care which app or activity performs the task.

Conversely, your activity can declare one or more intent filters in the AndroidManifest.xml file to advertise that the activity can accept implicit intents, and to define the types of intents that the activity will accept.

To match your request with an app installed on the device, the Android system matches your implicit intent with an activity whose intent filters indicate that they can perform the action. If multiple apps match, the user is presented with an app chooser that lets them select which app they want to use to handle the intent.

In this practical you build an app that sends an implicit intent to perform each of the following tasks:

Sharing—sending a piece of information to other people through email or social media—is a popular feature in many apps. For the sharing action you use the ShareCompat.IntentBuilder class, which makes it easy to build an implicit intent for sharing data.

Finally, you create a simple intent-receiver that accepts an implicit intent for a specific action.

What you should already know

You should be able to:

What you'll learn

What you'll do

In this section you create a new app with one Activity and three options for actions: open a web site, open a location on a map, and share a snippet of text. All of the text fields are editable (EditText), but contain default values.

For this exercise, you create a new project and app called Implicit Intents, with a new layout.

1.1 Create the project

  1. Start Android Studio and create a new Android Studio project. Name your app Implicit Intents.
  2. Choose Empty Activity for the project template. Click Next.
  3. Accept the default Activity name (MainActivity). Make sure the Generate Layout file box is checked. Click Finish.

1.2 Create the layout

In this task, create the layout for the app. Use a LinearLayout, three Button elements, and three EditText elements, like this:

  1. Open app > res > values > strings.xml in the Project > Android pane, and add the following string resources:
<string name="edittext_uri">http://developer.android.com</string>
<string name="button_uri">Open Website</string>

<string name="edittext_loc">Golden Gate Bridge</string>
<string name="button_loc">Open Location</string>

<string name="edittext_share">\'Twas brillig and the slithy toves</string>
<string name="button_share">Share This Text</string>
  1. Open res > layout > activity_main.xml in the Project > Android pane. Click the Text tab to switch to XML code.
  2. Change android.support.constraint.ConstraintLayout to LinearLayout, as you learned in a previous practical.
  3. Add the android:orientation attribute with the value "vertical". Add the android:padding attribute with the value "16dp".
<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto"
    xmlns:tools="http://schemas.android.com/tools"
    android:layout_width="match_parent"
    android:layout_height="match_parent"
    android:orientation="vertical"
    android:padding="16dp"
    tools:context="com.example.android.implicitintents.MainActivity">
  1. Remove the TextView that displays "Hello World".
  2. Add a set of UI elements to the layout for the Open Website button. You need an EditText element and a Button element. Use these attribute values:

EditText attribute

Value

android:id

"@+id/website_edittext"

android:layout_width

"match_parent"

android:layout_height

"wrap_content"

android:text

"@string/edittext_uri"

Button attribute

Value

android:id

"@+id/open_website_button"

android:layout_width

"wrap_content"

android:layout_height

"wrap_content"

android:layout_marginBottom

"24dp"

android:text

"@string/button_uri"

android:onClick

"openWebsite"

The value for the android:onClick attribute will remain underlined in red until you define the callback method in a subsequent task.

  1. Add a set of UI elements (EditText and Button) to the layout for the Open Location button. Use the same attributes as in the previous step, but modify them as shown below. (You can copy the values from the Open Website button and modify them.)

EditText attribute

Value

android:id

"@+id/location_edittext"

android:text

"@string/edittext_loc"

Button attribute

Value

android:id

"@+id/open_location_button"

android:text

"@string/button_loc"

android:onClick

"openLocation"

The value for the android:onClick attribute will remain underlined in red until you define the callback method in a subsequent task.

  1. Add a set of UI elements (EditText and Button) to the layout for the Share This button. Use the attributes shown below. (You can copy the values from the Open Website button and modify them.)

EditText attribute

Value

android:id

"@+id/share_edittext"

android:text

"@string/edittext_share"

Button attribute

Value

android:id

"@+id/share_text_button"

android:text

"@string/button_share"

android:onClick

"shareText"

Depending on your version of Android Studio, your activity_main.xml code should look something like the following. The values for the android:onClick attributes will remain underlined in red until you define the callback methods in a subsequent task.

<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto"
    xmlns:tools="http://schemas.android.com/tools"
    android:layout_width="match_parent"
    android:layout_height="match_parent"
    android:orientation="vertical"
    android:padding="16dp"
    tools:context="com.example.android.implicitintents.MainActivity">

    <EditText
        android:id="@+id/website_edittext"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
         android:text="@string/edittext_uri"/>

    <Button
        android:id="@+id/open_website_button"
        android:layout_width="wrap_content"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
         android:layout_marginBottom="24dp"
        android:text="@string/button_uri"
        android:onClick="openWebsite"/>

    <EditText
        android:id="@+id/location_edittext"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
        android:text="@string/edittext_uri"/>

    <Button
        android:id="@+id/open_location_button"
        android:layout_width="wrap_content"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
        android:layout_marginBottom="24dp"
        android:text="@string/button_loc"
        android:onClick="openLocation"/>

    <EditText
        android:id="@+id/share_edittext"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
        android:text="@string/edittext_share"/>

    <Button
        android:id="@+id/share_text_button"
        android:layout_width="wrap_content"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
        android:layout_marginBottom="24dp"
        android:text="@string/button_share"
        android:onClick="shareText"/>

</LinearLayout>

In this task you implement the on-click handler method for the first button in the layout, Open Website. This action uses an implicit Intent to send the given URI to an Activity that can handle that implicit Intent (such as a web browser).

2.1 Define openWebsite()

  1. Click "openWebsite" in the activity_main.xml XML code.
  2. Press Alt+Enter (Option+Enter on a Mac) and select Create 'openWebsite(View)' in 'MainActivity.

The MainActivity file opens, and Android Studio generates a skeleton method for the openWebsite() handler.

public void openWebsite(View view) {
}
  1. In MainActivity, add a private variable at the top of the class to hold the EditText object for the web site URI.
private EditText mWebsiteEditText;
  1. In the onCreate() method for MainActivity, use findViewById() to get a reference to the EditText instance and assign it to that private variable:
mWebsiteEditText = findViewById(R.id.website_edittext);

2.2 Add code to openWebsite()

  1. Add a statement to the new openWebsite() method that gets the string value of the EditText:
String url = mWebsiteEditText.getText().toString();
  1. Encode and parse that string into a Uri object:
Uri webpage = Uri.parse(url);
  1. Create a new Intent with Intent.ACTION_VIEW as the action and the URI as the data:
Intent intent = new Intent(Intent.ACTION_VIEW, webpage);

This Intent constructor is different from the one you used to create an explicit Intent. In the previous constructor, you specified the current context and a specific component (Activity class) to send the Intent. In this constructor you specify an action and the data for that action. Actions are defined by the Intent class and can include ACTION_VIEW (to view the given data), ACTION_EDIT (to edit the given data), or ACTION_DIAL (to dial a phone number). In this case the action is ACTION_VIEW because you want to display the web page specified by the URI in the webpage variable.

  1. Use the resolveActivity() method and the Android package manager to find an Activity that can handle your implicit Intent. Make sure that the request resolved successfully.
if (intent.resolveActivity(getPackageManager()) != null) {
}

This request that matches your Intent action and data with the Intent filters for installed apps on the device. You use it to make sure there is at least one Activity that can handle your requests.

  1. Inside the if statement, call startActivity() to send the Intent.
startActivity(intent);
  1. Add an else block to print a Log message if the Intent could not be resolved.
} else {
   Log.d("ImplicitIntents", "Can't handle this!");
} 

The openWebsite() method should now look as follows. (Comments added for clarity.)

public void openWebsite(View view) {
   // Get the URL text.
   String url = mWebsiteEditText.getText().toString();

   // Parse the URI and create the intent.
   Uri webpage = Uri.parse(url);
   Intent intent = new Intent(Intent.ACTION_VIEW, webpage);

   // Find an activity to hand the intent and start that activity.
   if (intent.resolveActivity(getPackageManager()) != null) {
       startActivity(intent);
   } else {
       Log.d("ImplicitIntents", "Can't handle this intent!");
   }
}

In this task you implement the on-click handler method for the second button in the UI, Open Location. This method is almost identical to the openWebsite() method. The difference is the use of a geo URI to indicate a map location. You can use a geo URI with latitude and longitude, or use a query string for a general location. In this example we've used the latter.

3.1 Define openLocation()

  1. Click "openLocation" in the activity_main.xml XML code.
  2. Press Alt+Enter (Option+Enter on a Mac) and select Create 'openLocation(View)' in MainActivity.

Android Studio generates a skeleton method in MainActivity for the openLocation() handler.

public void openLocation(View view) {
}
  1. Add a private variable at the top of MainActivity to hold the EditText object for the location URI.
private EditText mLocationEditText;
  1. In the onCreate() method, use findViewByID() to get a reference to the EditText instance and assign it to that private variable:
mLocationEditText = findViewById(R.id.location_edittext);

3.2 Add code to openLocation()

  1. In the new openLocation() method, add a statement to get the string value of the mLocationEditText EditText.
String loc = mLocationEditText.getText().toString();
  1. Parse that string into a Uri object with a geo search query:
Uri addressUri = Uri.parse("geo:0,0?q=" + loc);
  1. Create a new Intent with Intent.ACTION_VIEW as the action and loc as the data.
Intent intent = new Intent(Intent.ACTION_VIEW, addressUri);
  1. Resolve the Intent and check to make sure that the Intent resolved successfully. If so, startActivity(), otherwise log an error message.
if (intent.resolveActivity(getPackageManager()) != null) {
   startActivity(intent);
} else {
   Log.d("ImplicitIntents", "Can't handle this intent!");
}

The openLocation() method should now look as follows (comments added for clarity):

public void openLocation(View view) {
   // Get the string indicating a location. Input is not validated; it is
   // passed to the location handler intact.
   String loc = mLocationEditText.getText().toString();

   // Parse the location and create the intent.
   Uri addressUri = Uri.parse("geo:0,0?q=" + loc);
   Intent intent = new Intent(Intent.ACTION_VIEW, addressUri);

   // Find an activity to handle the intent, and start that activity.
   if (intent.resolveActivity(getPackageManager()) != null) {
       startActivity(intent);
   } else {
       Log.d("ImplicitIntents", "Can't handle this intent!");
   }
}

A share action is an easy way for users to share items in your app with social networks and other apps. Although you could build a share action in your own app using an implicit Intent, Android provides the ShareCompat.IntentBuilder helper class to make implementing sharing easy. You can use ShareCompat.IntentBuilder to build an Intent and launch a chooser to let the user choose the destination app for sharing.

In this task you implement sharing a bit of text in a text edit, using the ShareCompat.IntentBuilder class.

4.1 Define shareText()

  1. Click "shareText" in the activity_main.xml XML code.
  2. Press Alt+Enter (Option+Enter on a Mac) and select Create 'shareText(View)' in MainActivity.

Android Studio generates a skeleton method in MainActivity for the shareText() handler.

public void shareText(View view) {
}
  1. Add a private variable at the top of MainActivity to hold the EditText.
private EditText mShareTextEditText;
  1. In onCreate(), use findViewById() to get a reference to the EditText instance and assign it to that private variable:
mShareTextEditText = findViewById(R.id.share_edittext);

4.2 Add code to shareText()

  1. In the new shareText() method, add a statement to get the string value of the mShareTextEditText EditText.
String txt = mShareTextEditText.getText().toString();
  1. Define the mime type of the text to share:
String mimeType = "text/plain";
  1. Call ShareCompat.IntentBuilder with these methods:
ShareCompat.IntentBuilder
           .from(this)
           .setType(mimeType)
           .setChooserTitle("Share this text with: ")
           .setText(txt)
           .startChooser();
  1. Extract the value of .setChoosterTitle to a string resource.

The call to ShareCompat.IntentBuilder uses these methods:

Method

Description

from()

The Activity that launches this share Intent (this).

setType()

The MIME type of the item to be shared.

setChooserTitle()

The title that appears on the system app chooser.

setText()

The actual text to be shared

startChooser()

Show the system app chooser and send the Intent.

This format, with all the builder's setter methods strung together in one statement, is an easy shorthand way to create and launch the Intent. You can add any of the additional methods to this list.

The shareText() method should now look as follows:

public void shareText(View view) {
        String txt = mShareTextEditText.getText().toString();
        String mimeType = "text/plain";
        ShareCompat.IntentBuilder
                        .from(this)
                        .setType(mimeType)
                        .setChooserTitle(R.string.share_text_with)
                        .setText(txt)
                        .startChooser();
}

4.3 Run the app

  1. Run the app.
  2. Click the Open Website button to launch a browser with the website URL in the EditText above the Button. The browser and website should appear as shown below.

  1. Click the Open Location button to launch the map with the location in the EditText above the Button. The map with the location should appear as shown below.

  1. Click the Share This Text button to launch a dialog with choices for sharing the text. The dialog with choices should appear as shown below.

Task 4 solution code

Android Studio project: ImplicitIntents

So far, you've created an app that uses an implicit Intent in order to launch some other app's Activity. In this task you look at the problem from the other way around: allowing an Activity in your app to respond to an implicit Intent sent from some other app.

An Activity in your app can always be activated from inside or outside your app with an explicit Intent. To allow an Activity to receive an implicit Intent, you define an Intent filter in your app's AndroidManifest.xml file to indicate which types of implicit Intent your Activity is interested in handling.

To match your request with a specific app installed on the device, the Android system matches your implicit Intent with an Activity whose Intent filters indicate that they can perform that action. If there are multiple apps installed that match, the user is presented with an app chooser that lets them select which app they want to use to handle that Intent.

When an app on the device sends an implicit Intent, the Android system matches the action and data of that Intent with any available Activity that includes the right Intent filters. When the Intent filters for an Activity match the Intent:

In this task you create a very simple app that receives an implicit Intent to open the URI for a web page. When activated by an implicit Intent, that app displays the requested URI as a string in a TextView.

5.1 Create the project and layout

  1. Create a new Android Studio project with the app name Implicit Intents Receiver and choose Empty Activity for the project template.
  2. Accept the default Activity name (MainActivity). Click Next.
  3. Make sure the Generate Layout file box is checked. Click Finish.
  4. Open activity_main.xml.
  5. In the existing ("Hello World") TextView , delete the android:text attribute. There's no text in this TextView by default, but you'll add the URI from the Intent in onCreate().
  6. Leave the layout_constraint attributes alone, but add the following attributes:

Attribute

Value

android:id

"@+id/text_uri_message"

android:textSize

"18sp"

android:textStyle

"bold"

5.2 Modify AndroidManifest.xml to add an Intent filter

  1. Open the AndroidManifest.xml file.
  2. Note that MainActivity already has this Intent filter:
<intent-filter>
   <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />
   <category android:name="android.intent.category.LAUNCHER" />
</intent-filter>

This Intent filter, which is part of the default project manifest, indicates that this Activity is the main entry point for your app (it has an Intent action of "android.intent.action.MAIN"), and that this Activity should appear as a top-level item in the launcher (its category is "android.intent.category.LAUNCHER").

  1. Add a second <intent-filter> tag inside <activity>, and include these elements :
<action android:name="android.intent.action.VIEW" />
<category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" />
<category android:name="android.intent.category.BROWSABLE" />
<data android:scheme="http" android:host="developer.android.com" />

These lines define an Intent filter for the Activity, that is, the kind of Intent that the Activity can handle. This Intent filter declares these elements:

Filter type

Value

Matches

action

"android.intent.action.VIEW"

Any Intent with view actions.

category

"android.intent.category.DEFAULT"

Any implicit Intent. This category must be included for your Activity to receive any implicit Intent.

category

"android.intent.category.BROWSABLE"

Requests for browsable links from web pages, email, or other sources.

data

android:scheme="http"
android:host="developer.android.com"

URIs that contain a scheme of http and a host name of developer.android.com.

Note that the data filter has a restriction on both the kind of links it will accept and the hostname for those URIs. If you'd prefer your receiver to be able to accept any links, you can leave out the <data> element.

The application section of AndroidManifest.xml should now look as follows:

<application
    android:allowBackup="true"
    android:icon="@mipmap/ic_launcher"
    android:label="@string/app_name"
    android:roundIcon="@mipmap/ic_launcher_round"
    android:supportsRtl="true"
    android:theme="@style/AppTheme">
    <activity android:name=".MainActivity">
        <intent-filter>
            <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />
            <category android:name="android.intent.category.LAUNCHER" />
        </intent-filter>

        <intent-filter>
            <action android:name="android.intent.action.VIEW" />
            <category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" />
            <category android:name="android.intent.category.BROWSABLE" />
            <data android:scheme="http" 
                                android:host="developer.android.com" />
        </intent-filter>
    </activity>
</application>

5.3 Process the Intent

In the onCreate() method for your Activity, process the incoming Intent for any data or extras it includes. In this case, the incoming implicit Intent has the URI stored in the Intent data.

  1. Open MainActivity.
  2. In the onCreate() method, get the incoming Intent that was used to activate the Activity:
Intent intent = getIntent();
  1. Get the Intent data. Intent data is always a URI object:
Uri uri = intent.getData();
  1. Check to make sure that the uri variable is not null. If that check passes, create a string from that URI object:
if (uri != null) {
   String uri_string = "URI: " + uri.toString();
}
  1. Extract the "URI: " portion of the above into a string resource (uri_label).
  2. Inside that same if block, get the TextView for the message:
TextView textView = findViewById(R.id.text_uri_message);
  1. Also inside the if block, set the text of that TextView to the URI:
textView.setText(uri_string);

The onCreate() method for MainActivity should now look like the following:

@Override
protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
        setContentView(R.layout.activity_main);

        Intent intent = getIntent();
        Uri uri = intent.getData();
        if (uri != null) {
            String uri_string = getString(R.string.uri_label)
                   + uri.toString();
            TextView textView = findViewById(R.id.text_uri_message);
            textView.setText(uri_string);
        }
}

5.4 Run both apps

To show the result of receiving an implicit Intent, you will run both the Implicit Intents Receiver and Implicit Intents apps on the emulator or your device.

  1. Run the Implicit Intents Receiver app.

Running the app on its own shows a blank Activity with no text. This is because the Activity was activated from the system launcher, and not with an Intent from another app.

  1. Run the Implicit Intents app, and click Open Website with the default URI.

An app chooser appears asking if you want to use the default browser (Chrome in the figure below) or the Implicit Intents Receiver app. Select Implicit Intents Receiver, and click Just Once. The Implicit Intents Receiver app launches and the message shows the URI from the original request.

  1. Tap the Back button and enter a different URI. Click Open Website.

The receiver app has a very restrictive Intent filter that matches only exact URI protocol (http) and host (developer.android.com). Any other URI opens in the default web browser.

Task 5 solution code

Android Studio project: ImplicitIntentsReceiver

Challenge: In a previous practical challenge you created a shopping list app builder with an Activity to display the list, and another Activity to pick an item. Add an EditText and a Button to the shopping list Activity to locate a particular store on a map.

The related concept documentation is in 2.3: Implicit intents.

Android developer documentation:

This section lists possible homework assignments for students who are working through this codelab as part of a course led by an instructor. It's up to the instructor to do the following:

Instructors can use these suggestions as little or as much as they want, and should feel free to assign any other homework they feel is appropriate.

If you're working through this codelab on your own, feel free to use these homework assignments to test your knowledge.

Build and run an app

Open the ImplicitIntents app that you created.

  1. Add another button at the bottom of the screen.
  2. When the Button is clicked, launch a camera app to take a picture. (You don't need to return the picture to the original app.)

Answer these questions

Question 1

Which constructor method do you use to create an implicit Intent to launch a camera app?

Question 2

When you create an implicit Intent object, which of the following is true?

Question 3

Which Intent action do you use to take a picture with a camera app?

Submit your app for grading

Guidance for graders

Check that the app has the following features:

To find the next practical codelab in the Android Developer Fundamentals (V2) course, see Codelabs for Android Developer Fundamentals (V2).

For an overview of the course, including links to the concept chapters, apps, and slides, see Android Developer Fundamentals (Version 2).