The Basics of Android IntentService and How to Use It?

The Basics of Android IntentService and How to Use It? from UIGarage
Juned Ghanchi

Updated on June 10, 2019

IntentService or more specifically, is a subclass of Service class which is widely used for handling all the asynchronous tasks out of the main thread. Every different intent is to take to the queue of IntentService before they are addressed as per the sequence. The Basics of Android IntentService and How to Use It? from UIGarage IntentService in the Android app development ecosystem plays a crucial role in handling a volume of processing tasks emanating out of the principal UI thread of the respective app. Thanks to this subclass of service the app developers no longer need to launch AsyncTask that requires continuous management whenever you need additional processing of the service requests. Instead of managing a lot of processing requests continuously, all you can do with this subclass is to define the service and package the intent with appropriate data for processing. This boosts the performance of the entire process. The subclass referred to as IntentService offers a rather very linear and straightforward structure on a single thread running in the background. This helps running lengthy operations while keeping the responsiveness of the UI intact. Moreover, IntentService remains untouched and unaffected by various events in the life cycle of the user interface.

The limitations of the Android IntentService

Apart from the so-called advantages, Android IntentService has its limitations as well. App developers should be aware of these limitations besides the benefits. Let us have a look at the critical limitations of the Android IntentService.
  • The IntentService is not capable of making interaction with the UI in a straightforward manner. To make the results effective through the UI, first, you need to configure them for an activity.
  • All the requests are addressed in a sequential manner. For any request to run in IntentService, the earlier operation must be finished at first. A process which is undergoing cannot be put to a stop even in case of an emergency.
In spite of these limitations, IntentService is preferred so much because the simple background operations can be carried out in a much simpler way.

Creating Your Subclass of IntentService: Key Steps to Go Through

The app developers know the importance of creating their own subclass of IntentService. Here we are going to explain the steps for doing this. Let us explain a few basic things. First of all, you must know that there are considerable differences between performing the processing on the main UI thread and doing that same processing within an IntentService.

Define the Message Processing

The app developers, first of all, should understand the reason for using the Service Class and how IntentService can benefit their development process. Developers mainly use IntentService for purposes outside of the main thread. This helps them boost the efficiency and responsiveness of the app. As for the second most important reason, developers depend on IntentService just when they need to address several requests. IntentService helps to queue up these requests and to handle them one by one in an efficient manner. Let us exemplify and explain how IntentService as a service class really adds value to the development experience and overall output of an app development process. For instance, your app requires handling simple processing tasks related to many aspects such as processing an image or establishing a network connection. Now, instead of processing it within the main thread of the application that may require splitting out the result with TextView control or EditText control, you can offload the entire processing within the IntentService subclass and complete it more efficiently. The most important thing is, users always get the most responsive output because of this subclass.

Implementation of the IntentService

IntentService is used by the app developers principally for preventing the interference with the application. IntentService is also used to handle multiple processing requests with ease. So, it is time to tell our developers about implementing the IntentService. First of all, build another class file within the project. Then add different stubs for the method. Now, you have to add a constructor that bears the name of the new service. Thereafter, you need to implement a process called onHandleIntent() in where the processing takes place. Within the intent extras, all necessary data for the project is packaged.

Launching the Service

This is the step where you have to launch the service right from your application activity. Here you have to add another additional Button control. This button instead of carrying out the processing in the main thread delegates the same to the new IntentService. Basically, from this stage the service takes control. It takes into consideration every request, process it and shut itself when the processing is done. While this processing takes place, the principal User Interface (UI) remains functional and responsive. You also need to use a broadcast sender and receiver, so that the app UI can be updated when a request is processed. You also need to register the broadcast receiver that has been defined in your processing activity.

Broadcasting the Output

At last, you need to integrate the output with the application as per the intent. This requires sending a broadcast from the IntentService class through onHandleIntent() method. To integrate the output with the main application, you need to package another intent and incorporate the result as the extra data and apply the same through the sendBroadcast() method.


While it comes to handling multiple processing requests, developers should take advantage of this service class to ensure optimum efficiency and performance. By just offloading some processing tasks from the main thread and incorporating them back to the application, the developers can keep the app responsive.
About Juned Ghanchi
The Basics of Android IntentService and How to Use It? from UIGarage
Juned Ghanchi is a CMO at IndianAppDevelopers a leading Mobile app development company based in USA & India having a team of top android app developers who offers Android app solutions. He also shares the researched knowledge about mobile technology with the people through engaging blogs.