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page.title=Android Interface Definition Language (AIDL)
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<h2>In this document</h2>
<li><a href="#Defining">Defining an AIDL Interface</a>
<li><a href="#Create">Create the .aidl file</a></li>
<li><a href="#Implement">Implement the interface</a></li>
<li><a href="#Expose">Expose the interface to clients</a></li>
<li><a href="#PassingObjects">Passing Objects over IPC</a></li>
<li><a href="#Calling">Calling an IPC Method</a></li>
<h2>See also</h2>
<li><a href="{@docRoot}guide/components/bound-services.html">Bound Services</a></li>
<p>AIDL (Android Interface Definition Language) is similar to other IDLs you might have
worked with. It allows you to define the programming interface that both
the client and service agree upon in order to communicate with each other using
interprocess communication (IPC). On Android, one process cannot normally access the
memory of another process. So to talk, they need to decompose their objects into primitives that the
operating system can understand, and marshall the objects across that boundary for you. The code to
do that marshalling is tedious to write, so Android handles it for you with AIDL.</p>
<p class="note"><strong>Note:</strong> Using AIDL is necessary only if you allow clients from
different applications to access your service for IPC and want to handle multithreading in your
service. If you do not need to perform concurrent IPC across
different applications, you should create your interface by <a
href="{@docRoot}guide/components/bound-services.html#Binder">implementing a
Binder</a> or, if you want to perform IPC, but do <em>not</em> need to handle multithreading,
implement your interface <a
href="{@docRoot}guide/components/bound-services.html#Messenger">using a Messenger</a>.
Regardless, be sure that you understand <a
href="{@docRoot}guide/components/bound-services.html">Bound Services</a> before
implementing an AIDL.</p>
<p>Before you begin designing your AIDL interface, be aware that calls to an AIDL interface are
direct function calls. You should not make assumptions about the thread in which the call
occurs. What happens is different depending on whether the call is from a thread in the
local process or a remote process. Specifically:</p>
<li>Calls made from the local process are executed in the same thread that is making the call. If
this is your main UI thread, that thread continues to execute in the AIDL interface. If it is
another thread, that is the one that executes your code in the service. Thus, if only local
threads are accessing the service, you can completely control which threads are executing in it (but
if that is the case, then you shouldn't be using AIDL at all, but should instead create the
interface by <a href="{@docRoot}guide/components/bound-services.html#Binder">implementing a
<li>Calls from a remote process are dispatched from a thread pool the platform maintains inside of
your own process. You must be prepared for incoming calls from unknown threads, with multiple calls
happening at the same time. In other words, an implementation of an AIDL interface must be
completely thread-safe.</li>
<li>The {@code oneway} keyword modifies the behavior of remote calls. When used, a remote call does
not block; it simply sends the transaction data and immediately returns.
The implementation of the interface eventually receives this as a regular call from the {@link
android.os.Binder} thread pool as a normal remote call. If {@code oneway} is used with a local call,
there is no impact and the call is still synchronous.</li>
<h2 id="Defining">Defining an AIDL Interface</h2>
<p>You must define your AIDL interface in an {@code .aidl} file using the Java
programming language syntax, then save it in the source code (in the {@code src/} directory) of both
the application hosting the service and any other application that binds to the service.</p>
<p>When you build each application that contains the {@code .aidl} file, the Android SDK tools
generate an {@link android.os.IBinder} interface based on the {@code .aidl} file and save it in
the project's {@code gen/} directory. The service must implement the {@link android.os.IBinder}
interface as appropriate. The client applications can then bind to the service and call methods from
the {@link android.os.IBinder} to perform IPC.</p>
<p>To create a bounded service using AIDL, follow these steps:</p>
<li><a href="#CreateAidl">Create the .aidl file</a>
<p>This file defines the programming interface with method signatures.</p>
<li><a href="#ImplementTheInterface">Implement the interface</a>
<p>The Android SDK tools generate an interface in the Java programming language, based on your
{@code .aidl} file. This interface has an inner abstract class named {@code Stub} that extends
{@link android.os.Binder} and implements methods from your AIDL interface. You must extend the
{@code Stub} class and implement the methods.</p>
<li><a href="#ExposeTheInterface">Expose the interface to clients</a>
<p>Implement a {@link Service} and override {@link onBind()} to return your implementation of the {@code Stub}
<p class="caution"><strong>Caution:</strong> Any changes that you make to your AIDL interface after
your first release must remain backward compatible in order to avoid breaking other applications
that use your service. That is, because your {@code .aidl} file must be copied to other applications
in order for them to access your service's interface, you must maintain support for the original
<h3 id="Create">1. Create the .aidl file</h3>
<p>AIDL uses a simple syntax that lets you declare an interface with one or more methods that can
take parameters and return values. The parameters and return values can be of any type, even other
AIDL-generated interfaces.</p>
<p>You must construct the {@code .aidl} file using the Java programming language. Each {@code .aidl}
file must define a single interface and requires only the interface declaration and method
<p>By default, AIDL supports the following data types:</p>
<li>All primitive types in the Java programming language (such as {@code int}, {@code long},
{@code char}, {@code boolean}, and so on)</li>
<li>{@link java.lang.String}</li>
<li>{@link java.lang.CharSequence}</li>
<li>{@link java.util.List}
<p>All elements in the {@link java.util.List} must be one of the supported data types in this
list or one of the other AIDL-generated interfaces or parcelables you've declared. A {@link
java.util.List} may optionally be used as a "generic" class (for example,
The actual concrete class that the other side receives is always an {@link
java.util.ArrayList}, although the method is generated to use the {@link
java.util.List} interface.</p>
<li>{@link java.util.Map}
<p>All elements in the {@link java.util.Map} must be one of the supported data types in this
list or one of the other AIDL-generated interfaces or parcelables you've declared. Generic maps,
(such as those of the form
{@code Map&lt;String,Integer&gt;} are not supported. The actual concrete class that the other side
receives is always a {@link java.util.HashMap}, although the method is generated to
use the {@link java.util.Map} interface.</p>
<p>You must include an {@code import} statement for each additional type not listed above, even if
they are defined in the same package as your interface.</p>
<p>When defining your service interface, be aware that:</p>
<li>Methods can take zero or more parameters, and return a value or void.</li>
<li>All non-primitive parameters require a directional tag indicating which way the data goes.
Either <code>in</code>, <code>out</code>, or <code>inout</code> (see the example below).
<p>Primitives are <code>in</code> by default, and cannot be otherwise.</p>
<p class="caution"><strong>Caution:</strong> You should limit the direction to what is truly
needed, because marshalling parameters is expensive.</p></li>
<li>All code comments included in the {@code .aidl} file are included in the generated {@link
android.os.IBinder} interface (except for comments before the import and package
<li>Only methods are supported; you cannot expose static fields in AIDL.</li>
<p>Here is an example {@code .aidl} file:</p>
// IRemoteService.aidl
// Declare any non-default types here with import statements
/** Example service interface */
interface IRemoteService {
/** Request the process ID of this service, to do evil things with it. */
int getPid();
/** Demonstrates some basic types that you can use as parameters
* and return values in AIDL.
void basicTypes(int anInt, long aLong, boolean aBoolean, float aFloat,
double aDouble, String aString);
<p>Simply save your {@code .aidl} file in your project's {@code src/} directory and when you
build your application, the SDK tools generate the {@link android.os.IBinder} interface file in your
project's {@code gen/} directory. The generated file name matches the {@code .aidl} file name, but
with a {@code .java} extension (for example, {@code IRemoteService.aidl} results in {@code}).</p>
<p>If you use Eclipse, the incremental build generates the binder class almost immediately. If you
do not use Eclipse, then the Ant tool generates the binder class next time you build your
application&mdash;you should build your project with <code>ant debug</code> (or <code>ant
release</code>) as soon as you're finished writing the {@code .aidl} file, so that your code can
link against the generated class.</p>
<h3 id="Implement">2. Implement the interface</h3>
<p>When you build your application, the Android SDK tools generate a {@code .java} interface file
named after your {@code .aidl} file. The generated interface includes a subclass named {@code Stub}
that is an abstract implementation of its parent interface (for example, {@code
YourInterface.Stub}) and declares all the methods from the {@code .aidl} file.</p>
<p class="note"><strong>Note:</strong> {@code Stub} also
defines a few helper methods, most notably {@code asInterface()}, which takes an {@link
android.os.IBinder} (usually the one passed to a client's {@link
android.content.ServiceConnection#onServiceConnected onServiceConnected()} callback method) and
returns an instance of the stub interface. See the section <a href="#Calling">Calling an IPC
Method</a> for more details on how to make this cast.</p>
<p>To implement the interface generated from the {@code .aidl}, extend the generated {@link
android.os.Binder} interface (for example, {@code YourInterface.Stub}) and implement the methods
inherited from the {@code .aidl} file.</p>
<p>Here is an example implementation of an interface called {@code IRemoteService} (defined by the
{@code IRemoteService.aidl} example, above) using an anonymous instance:</p>
private final IRemoteService.Stub mBinder = new IRemoteService.Stub() {
public int getPid(){
return Process.myPid();
public void basicTypes(int anInt, long aLong, boolean aBoolean,
float aFloat, double aDouble, String aString) {
// Does nothing
<p>Now the {@code mBinder} is an instance of the {@code Stub} class (a {@link android.os.Binder}),
which defines the RPC interface for the service. In the next step, this instance is exposed to
clients so they can interact with the service.</p>
<p>There are a few rules you should be aware of when implementing your AIDL interface: </p>
<li>Incoming calls are not guaranteed to be executed on the main thread, so you need to think
about multithreading from the start and properly build your service to be thread-safe.</li>
<li>By default, RPC calls are synchronous. If you know that the service takes more than a few
milliseconds to complete a request, you should not call it from the activity's main thread, because
it might hang the application (Android might display an &quot;Application is Not Responding&quot;
dialog)&mdash;you should usually call them from a separate thread in the client. </li>
<li>No exceptions that you throw are sent back to the caller.</li>
<h3 id="Expose">3. Expose the interface to clients</h3>
<p>Once you've implemented the interface for your service, you need to expose it to
clients so they can bind to it. To expose the interface
for your service, extend {@link Service} and implement {@link onBind()} to return an instance of your class that implements
the generated {@code Stub} (as discussed in the previous section). Here's an example
service that exposes the {@code IRemoteService} example interface to clients. </p>
public class RemoteService extends Service {
public void onCreate() {
public IBinder onBind(Intent intent) {
// Return the interface
return mBinder;
private final IRemoteService.Stub mBinder = new IRemoteService.Stub() {
public int getPid(){
return Process.myPid();
public void basicTypes(int anInt, long aLong, boolean aBoolean,
float aFloat, double aDouble, String aString) {
// Does nothing
<p>Now, when a client (such as an activity) calls {@link android.content.Context#bindService
bindService()} to connect to this service, the client's {@link
android.content.ServiceConnection#onServiceConnected onServiceConnected()} callback receives the
{@code mBinder} instance returned by the service's {@link onBind()}
<p>The client must also have access to the interface class, so if the client and service are in
separate applications, then the client's application must have a copy of the {@code .aidl} file
in its {@code src/} directory (which generates the {@code android.os.Binder}
interface&mdash;providing the client access to the AIDL methods).</p>
<p>When the client receives the {@link android.os.IBinder} in the {@link
android.content.ServiceConnection#onServiceConnected onServiceConnected()} callback, it must call
<code><em>YourServiceInterface</em>.Stub.asInterface(service)</code> to cast the returned
parameter to <code><em>YourServiceInterface</em></code> type. For example:</p>
IRemoteService mIRemoteService;
private ServiceConnection mConnection = new ServiceConnection() {
// Called when the connection with the service is established
public void onServiceConnected(ComponentName className, IBinder service) {
// Following the example above for an AIDL interface,
// this gets an instance of the IRemoteInterface, which we can use to call on the service
mIRemoteService = IRemoteService.Stub.asInterface(service);
// Called when the connection with the service disconnects unexpectedly
public void onServiceDisconnected(ComponentName className) {
Log.e(TAG, "Service has unexpectedly disconnected");
mIRemoteService = null;
<p>For more sample code, see the <a
href="{@docRoot}resources/samples/ApiDemos/src/com/example/android/apis/app/RemoteService.html">{@code}</a> class in <a
<h2 id="PassingObjects">Passing Objects over IPC</h2>
<p>If you have a class that you would like to send from one process to another through
an IPC interface, you can do that. However, you must ensure that the code for your class is
available to the other side of the IPC channel and your class must support the {@link
android.os.Parcelable} interface. Supporting the {@link android.os.Parcelable} interface is
important because it allows the Android system to decompose objects into primitives that can be
marshalled across processes.</p>
<p>To create a class that supports the {@link android.os.Parcelable} protocol, you must do the
<li>Make your class implement the {@link android.os.Parcelable} interface.</li>
<li>Implement {@link android.os.Parcelable#writeToParcel writeToParcel}, which takes the
current state of the object and writes it to a {@link android.os.Parcel}.</li>
<li>Add a static field called <code>CREATOR</code> to your class which is an object implementing
the {@link android.os.Parcelable.Creator Parcelable.Creator} interface.</li>
<li>Finally, create an {@code .aidl} file that declares your parcelable class (as shown for the
{@code Rect.aidl} file, below).
<p>If you are using a custom build process, do <em>not</em> add the {@code .aidl} file to your
build. Similar to a header file in the C language, this {@code .aidl} file isn't compiled.</p></li>
<p>AIDL uses these methods and fields in the code it generates to marshall and unmarshall
your objects.</p>
<p>For example, here is a {@code Rect.aidl} file to create a {@code Rect} class that's
// Declare Rect so AIDL can find it and knows that it implements
// the parcelable protocol.
parcelable Rect;
<p>And here is an example of how the {@link} class implements the
{@link android.os.Parcelable} protocol.</p>
import android.os.Parcel;
import android.os.Parcelable;
public final class Rect implements Parcelable {
public int left;
public int top;
public int right;
public int bottom;
public static final Parcelable.Creator&lt;Rect&gt; CREATOR = new
Parcelable.Creator&lt;Rect&gt;() {
public Rect createFromParcel(Parcel in) {
return new Rect(in);
public Rect[] newArray(int size) {
return new Rect[size];
public Rect() {
private Rect(Parcel in) {
public void writeToParcel(Parcel out) {
public void readFromParcel(Parcel in) {
left = in.readInt();
top = in.readInt();
right = in.readInt();
bottom = in.readInt();
<p>The marshalling in the {@code Rect} class is pretty simple. Take a look at the other
methods on {@link android.os.Parcel} to see the other kinds of values you can write
to a Parcel.</p>
<p class="warning"><strong>Warning:</strong> Don't forget the security implications of receiving
data from other processes. In this case, the {@code Rect} reads four numbers from the {@link
android.os.Parcel}, but it is up to you to ensure that these are within the acceptable range of
values for whatever the caller is trying to do. See <a
href="{@docRoot}guide/topics/security/security.html">Security and Permissions</a> for more
information about how to keep your application secure from malware.</p>
<h2 id="Calling">Calling an IPC Method</h2>
<p>Here are the steps a calling class must take to call a remote interface defined with AIDL: </p>
<li>Include the {@code .aidl} file in the project {@code src/} directory.</li>
<li>Declare an instance of the {@link android.os.IBinder} interface (generated based on the
AIDL). </li>
<li>Implement {@link android.content.ServiceConnection ServiceConnection}. </li>
<li>Call {@link
Context.bindService()}, passing in your {@link
android.content.ServiceConnection} implementation. </li>
<li>In your implementation of {@link
android.content.ServiceConnection#onServiceConnected onServiceConnected()},
you will receive an {@link android.os.IBinder} instance (called <code>service</code>). Call
<code><em>YourInterfaceName</em>.Stub.asInterface((IBinder)<em>service</em>)</code> to
cast the returned parameter to <em>YourInterface</em> type.</li>
<li>Call the methods that you defined on your interface. You should always trap
{@link android.os.DeadObjectException} exceptions, which are thrown when
the connection has broken; this will be the only exception thrown by remote
<li>To disconnect, call {@link
Context.unbindService()} with the instance of your interface. </li>
<p>A few comments on calling an IPC service:</p>
<li>Objects are reference counted across processes. </li>
<li>You can send anonymous objects
as method arguments. </li>
<p>For more information about binding to a service, read the <a
href="{@docRoot}guide/components/bound-services.html#Binding">Bound Services</a>
<p>Here is some sample code demonstrating calling an AIDL-created service, taken
from the Remote Service sample in the ApiDemos project.</p>
<p>{@sample development/samples/ApiDemos/src/com/example/android/apis/app/