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Describe role of intent in Android Programming

Mumbai University > Information Technology > Sem 5 > Open Source Technology

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Year: Dec 2015

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An Intent is a messaging object you can use to request an action from another app component. Although intents facilitate communication between components in several ways, there are three fundamental use cases:

Starting an activity

An Activity represents a single screen in an app. You can start a new instance of an Activity by passing an Intent to startActivity(). The Intent describes the activity to start and carries any necessary data.

If you want to receive a result from the activity when it finishes, call startActivityForResult(). Your activity receives the result as a separate Intent object in your activity's onActivityResult() callback. For more information, see the Activities guide.

Starting a service

A Service is a component that performs operations in the background without a user interface. With Android 5.0 (API level 21) and later, you can start a service with JobScheduler. For more information about JobScheduler, see its API-reference documentation.

For versions earlier than Android 5.0 (API level 21), you can start a service by using methods of theService class. You can start a service to perform a one-time operation (such as downloading a file) by passing an Intent to startService(). The Intent describes the service to start and carries any necessary data.

If the service is designed with a client-server interface, you can bind to the service from another component by passing an Intent to bindService(). For more information, see the Services guide.

Delivering a broadcast

A broadcast is a message that any app can receive. The system delivers various broadcasts for system events, such as when the system boots up or the device starts charging. You can deliver a broadcast to other apps by passing an Intent to sendBroadcast(), sendOrderedBroadcast(), or sendStickyBroadcast().

Intent types:

There are two types of intents: Explicit intents specify the component to start by name (the fully-qualified class name). You'll typically use an explicit intent to start a component in your own app, because you know the class name of the activity or service you want to start. For example, you can start a new activity in response to a user action or start a service to download a file in the background.

Implicit intents do not name a specific component, but instead declare a general action to perform, which allows a component from another app to handle it. For example, if you want to show the user a location on a map, you can use an implicit intent to request that another capable app show a specified location on a map

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Figure shows How an implicit intent is delivered through the system to start another activity: [1] Activity A creates an Intent with an action description and passes it to startActivity(). [2] The Android System searches all apps for an intent filter that matches the intent. When a match is found, [3]the system starts the matching activity (Activity B) by invoking its onCreate() method and passing it the Intent.

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