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.

Focus On: TrafficStats

To be able to have more intelligent code — code that can adapt to Internet activity on the device — Android offers the TrafficStats class. This class really is a gateway to a block of native code that reports on traffic usage for the entire device and per-application, for both received and transmitted data. This chapter will examine how you can access TrafficStats and interpret its data.


Understanding this chapter requires that you have read the core chapters and understand how Android apps are set up and operate.

TrafficStats Basics

The TrafficStats class is not designed to be instantiated — you will not be invoking a constructor by calling new TrafficStats() or something like that. Rather, TrafficStats is merely a collection of static methods, mapped to native code, that provide access to point-in-time traffic values. No special permissions are needed to use any of these methods. Most of the methods were added in API Level 8 and therefore should be callable on most Android devices in use today.

Device Statistics

If you are interested in overall traffic, you will probably care most about the getTotalRxBytes() and getTotalTxBytes() on TrafficStats. These methods return received and transmitted traffic, respectively, measured in bytes.

You also have:

  1. getTotalRxPackets() and getTotalTxPackets(), if for your case measuring IP packets is a better measure than bytes
  2. getMobileRxBytes() and getMobileTxBytes(), which return the traffic going over mobile data (also included in the total)
  3. getMobileRxPackets() and getMobileTxPackets(), which are the packet counts for the mobile data connection

Per-Application Statistics

Technically, TrafficStats does not provide per-application traffic statistics. Rather, it provides per-UID traffic statistics. In most cases, the UID (user ID) of an application is unique, and therefore per-UID statistics map to per-application statistics. However, it is possible for multiple applications to share a single UID (e.g., via the android:sharedUserId manifest attribute) — in this case, TrafficStats would appear to provide traffic data for all applications sharing that UID.

There are per-UID equivalents of the first four methods listed in the previous section, replacing “Total” with “Uid”. So, to find out overall traffic for an application, you could use getUidRxBytes() and getUidTxBytes(). However, these are the only two UID-specific methods that were implemented in API Level 8. Equivalents of the others (e.g., getUidRxPackets()) were added in API Level 12. API Level 12 also added some TCP-specific methods (e.g., getUidTcpTxBytes()). Note, though, that the mobile-only method are only available at the device level; there are no UID-specific versions of those methods.

Interpreting the Results

You will get one of two types of return value from these methods.

In theory, you will get the value the method calls for (e.g., number of bytes, number of packets). The documentation does not state the time period for that value, so while it is possible that it is really “number of bytes since the device was booted”, we do not know that for certain. Hence, TrafficStats results should be used for comparison purposes, either comparing the same value over time or comparing multiple values at the same time. For example, to measure bandwidth consumption, you will need to record the TrafficStats values at one point in time, then again later — the difference between them represents the consumed bandwidth during that period of time.

In practice, while the “total” methods seem reliable, the per-UID methods may return -1. Three possible meanings are:

  1. The device is old and is not set up to measure per-UID values
  2. There has been no traffic of that type on that UID since boot, or
  3. You do not have permission to know the traffic of that type on that UID

Hence, the per-UID values are a bit “hit or miss”, which you will need to take into account.

Example: TrafficMonitor

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Other Ways to Employ TrafficStats

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