[Android Dev] 1.4 Intents

So far: single screen with a single activity.

start activity from another activity: use Intents.

Explicit intent: start a new activity

toy app: type some text, press button, and a new activity will appear with the typed words.

create activity in android studio: new → activity

call startActivity with an intent as parameter.

Explicit intent constructor: a context (every Acitivity is a Context), and a destination activity class.

Intent ineten = new Intent(MainActivity.this, ChildActivity.class);

This is called explicit intent as we know exactly which activity to start.

in AndroidManifest.xml file, configure child activity having a back buttom to return to parent activity:

        <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />

        <category android:name="android.intent.category.LAUNCHER" />
<!-- TODO (4) Configure DetailActivity's up button functionality -->
        android:value=".MainActivity" />

Passing data between activities

in main activity: Intent.putExtra(String name, String value) put data (k-v pairs) into the intent (some constant string names exists in Intent class, like Intent.EXTRA_TEXT) then start new activity with this intent.

in child activity: use getIntent() to get the comming intent, then use intent.getStringExtra(String name), before getting extra data: use intent.hasExtra(name) to check if the extra stuff exists.

Intent commingIntent = getIntent();
    String txt = commingIntent.getStringExtra(Intent.EXTRA_TEXT);

when don't know/care which activity to start. example: want to visit a link or dial a number.

ref of common intents: https://developer.android.com/guide/components/intents-common.html

most implicit intent contains 2 parameters: an action and the associated data (Uri). Or use intent.setData to add uri to intent. To test if there is any application that can handle the intent: use intent.resolveActivity(getPackageManager())

private void openWebPage(String url) {
    // TODO (2) Use Uri.parse to parse the String into a Uri
    Uri uri = Uri.parse(url);
    // TODO (3) Create an Intent with Intent.ACTION_VIEW and the webpage Uri as parameters
    Intent intent = new Intent(Intent.ACTION_VIEW, uri);
    // TODO (4) Verify that this Intent can be launched and then call startActivity
    if(intent.resolveActivity(getPackageManager()) != null){


URI: uniform resource identifier, a string that identifies resources.

full format of an URI:


  • scheme: ex. geo, http...
  • host
  • path
  • query
  • fragment

example of URI:

uri1 = https://archive.org/web
uri2 = geo:0,0?q=Montreal,Canada

construct a geo URI

now: want to open a location on maps.


Use Uri.Builder to create complex URIs.

public void onClickOpenAddressButton(View v) {
        String address = "Boulvard des Marechaux";
        // TODO (6) Use Uri.Builder with the appropriate scheme and query to form the Uri for the address
        Uri.Builder builder = new Uri.Builder();
        Uri uri = builder.build();
        showMap(uri); // constructs an intent and starts activity

Share Intent

When mutilple apps that can handle this intent ⇒ a chooser will pop up. Example: open an image / share a piece of text / share link ... → ShareCompat.IntentBuilder gives helper functionality for sharing data between activities. Media type (MIME): format: toplevel_type_name/subtype_name[; parameters] example: text/html;charset=UTF-8, image/png, text/plain, text/rtf, video/mp4,...

private void shareText(String txt) {
        String mimeType = "text/plain";
        String title = "title of chooser window";
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