The following is the first few sections of a chapter from The Busy Coder's Guide to Android Development, plus headings for the remaining major sections, to give you an idea about the content of the chapter.

App Shortcuts

Your app probably has a single activity that appears in the user’s home screen launcher. It is the activity that has the <intent-filter> for the MAIN action and the LAUNCHER category.

For years, many home screens for Android have allowed the user to make “shortcuts” to that activity, typically by long-pressing the icon in the launcher, then dragging it to the desired spot on the home screen. This is reminiscent of similar capabilities in many desktop operating systems.

However, some desktops have gone beyond that. For example, with the Unity desktop in Linux, right-clicking a launcher icon in the Unity dock may bring up specific ways to get into the app identified by that icon. For example, an email client might offer “Compose New Message” from the icon’s context menu, so whereas a simple click on the icon would bring up the inbox, right-clicking and choosing “Compose New Message” would bring up a message composer.

Android 7.1 adds the awkwardly-named “app shortcuts” to mimic this sort of feature. There are two ways of adding these shortcuts: via a resource tied into the manifest, and via Java code. The former approach has no particular ties to Android 7.1, and third-party home screen implementations are already adopting it.

In this chapter, we will explore what app shortcuts are, how to add them to the manifest, and how to offer “dynamic” app shortcuts from Java.


Understanding this chapter requires that you have read the chapter on Intent filters.

Enabling Deep Dives

Google has been steadily increasing the ways in which users can drive directly into specific portions of your app, as opposed to always getting into it via a home screen launcher or perhaps the overview screen, such as:

All of these are designed to make it a bit easier for power users to get where they want to go quickly, saving some taps, swipes, or other forms of input.

The app shortcuts added by Android 7.1 work much the same way.

App Shortcuts, from the User’s POV

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Offering Manifest App Shortcuts

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Offering Dynamic App Shortcuts

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Privacy, Security, and App Shortcuts

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