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About Bozhidar Bozhanov

Senior Java developer, one of the top stackoverflow users, fluent with Java and Java technology stacks - Spring, JPA, JavaEE, as well as Android, Scala and any framework you throw at him. creator of Computoser - an algorithmic music composer. Worked on telecom projects, e-government and large-scale online recruitment and navigation platforms.

Scheduling Repeated Tasks in Android

A somewhat common usecase for android applications is to have them launched when the phone is started, and execute some piece of code periodically.

Sounds straightforward, but there are some pitfalls, so here are a couple of steps to take in order to achieve that. Start with the trivial stuff:

In your manifest you need the following in order to be able to receive the boot event:

    android:name="android.permission.RECEIVE_BOOT_COMPLETED" />

Then, again in the manifest, you need two receivers:

<receiver android:name=".StartupLauncher">
    <action android:name="android.intent.action.BOOT_COMPLETED" />
    <action android:name="android.intent.action.QUICKBOOT_POWERON" />
    <category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" />
<receiver android:name=".Notifier">
    <action android:name="com.yourpackage.HOURLY_CHECK" />

What are all these? You will see what HOURLY_CHECK is in a minute. The entries in the .StartupLauncher I gathered from multiple StackOverflow answers, claiming to work on multiple devices. What you are normally required to consume is just BOOT_COMPLETED, but put the rest just in case. Note the enabled attribute of the receiver – they are normally not needed, but make sure the recieve is not disabled by the parent application. Honestly, I wouldn’t advise for putting useless stuff “just in case”, but given the quirks of android devices, I’d keep them.

Now implement the Service that will receive the BOOT_COMPLETED event:

public class StartupLauncher extends BroadcastReceiver {
  public void onReceive(final Context ctx, Intent intent) {
    AlarmManager alarmManager = (AlarmManager) ctx.getApplicationContext().getSystemService(Context.ALARM_SERVICE);
    Intent intent = new Intent("com.yourpackage.HOURLY_CHECK");
    PendingIntent notificationIntent = PendingIntent.getBroadcast(ctx.getApplicationContext(), 1, intent, 0);
    alarmManager.setRepeating(AlarmManager.RTC_WAKEUP, 0, TimeUnit.MILLISECONDS.convert(60, TimeUnit.MINUTES), notificationIntent);

Why not do it with a ScheduledExecutorService? Because once you schedule a Runnable, your BroadcastReceiver dies, and the executor dies with it, so the runnable is never invoked.

Now you have a scheduled Alarm, where you perform your actual logic:

public class Notifier extends BroadcastReceiver {
  public void onReceive(Context ctx, Intent intent) {
    // ...

You can of course have a single BroadcastReceiver and distinguish based on the intent, but I think that’s cleaner.

Overall, it’s a process that may be tricky – as it usually happens with Android, unfortunately.

Reference: Scheduling Repeated Tasks in Android from our JCG partner Bozhidar Bozhanov at the Bozho’s tech blog blog.

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