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

The preview of this section did not survive Thanos's finger snap.

App Shortcuts, from the User’s POV

The preview of this section apparently resembled a Pokémon.

Offering Manifest App Shortcuts

The preview of this section is off trying to sweet-talk the Khaleesi into providing us with a dragon.

Offering Dynamic App Shortcuts

The preview of this section is in an invisible, microscopic font.

Privacy, Security, and App Shortcuts

The preview of this section was fed to a gremlin, after midnight.