Denting via Android Intents

This is just a quick post to share something cool that I was playing with the other day. I was wondering if it was possible to send a message from an Android application via the Mustard client. It turns out it is, and here’s how you do it:

Intent i = new Intent(Intent.ACTION_SEND);
i.putExtra(Intent.EXTRA_TEXT, "Testing intents on android");

These four lines of code hook into a key feature of the Android platform: Intents. The intent system is a neat way of communicating via apps and enables different apps to integrate together without knowing about each other specifically.

In this case, we are sending the ACTION_SEND intent, which Mustard is set up to handle. We set the mime-type of the message to ‘text/plain’ and put the contents of our message into the EXTRA_TEXT field. We then start the intent, and we’re done!

When the intent is started Android presents the user with a list of all the possible applications which can handle the ACTION_SEND intent. In my case this is Email, Gmail, Messaging and Mustard, when I select mustard the new message screen pops up and is populated with my message content. Hitting send posts the message and returns control to my app. Neat!

There are probably a whole host of ways you can integrate your apps with other apps on the phone using the intents system, I guess it’s just a matter of knowing what intents are received by each app and what they do.

Thanks to @macno (main developer of Mustard) and @bugabundo on for their help working this out!

Anyway, I hope someone finds this useful. This is the first time I’ve posted about Android development, but I’ll hopefully write more about it in the future. Bye for now!