Activity or Notification via Ordered Broadcast
I’ve run into the following generalized question a lot recently:
I have an event that occurs in the background. I want to update my activity, if the activity is on the screen. Otherwise, I want to raise a
This seems perfectly reasonable. Every time I hand-waved my way around an answer, I felt like there should be a better solution for this. To quote Commodus, “It vexes me. I’m terribly vexed.”
A few days ago, a solution popped into mind, and based on preliminary experiments, it seems to work well. And, it lets us use an ordered broadcast.
Ordered broadcasts are like regular
Intent broadcasts, except
that they are ordered.
(yes, people pay $40/year for insights like these — you can too!)
Specifically, the broadcast is sent to one
at a time. Each receiver has the ability to abort the broadcast,
meaning that no other receiver after it will get the broadcast.
And, you can prioritize the receivers.
Hence, the recipe for the activity-or-
Notification pattern is:
Define an action string you will use when the event occurs that you want to go to the activity or notification (e.g.,
Dynamically register a
BroadcastReceieverin your activity, with an
IntentFilterset up for the aforementioned action string and with a positive priority (the default priority for a filter is 0). This receiver should then have the activity do whatever it needs to do to update the UI based on this event. The receiver should also call
abortBroadcast()to prevent others from getting it. Be sure to register the receiver in
onResume()and unregister the receiver in the corresponding
Register in your manifest a
BroadcastReceiver, with an
<intent-filter>set up for the aforementioned action string. This receiver should raise the
In your service (e.g., an
IntentService), when the event occurs, call
And that’s it. If the activity is on-screen, its receiver will
be registered, so it will get the event, process it, and cancel
the broadcast. If the activity is not on-screen, its receiver
will not be registered, so the event will go to the default
handler, in the form of your manifest-registered
which will raise the
I have some code that demonstrates this, though it’s not published
in any of my GitHub repos
at this time. I’ll be adding it to the repo
for The Busy Coder’s Guide to Advanced Android Development
at some point, when I cover the subject. If somebody needs this
code, or has any questions on the technique, please join the
cw-android Google Group
Interested in Jetpack Compose?
jetc.dev has a weekly newsletter of the latest articles, samples, and other details of Compose development!