Android Activities and Intents for Appium Engineers

Android Activities and Intents

    The Activity is a core concept of Android applications and fundamentally shapes application architecture and UI design. Therefore, our testing strategy can benefit from understanding and incorporating activities. In this article, I would like to share some concepts of Android Activity and Intents.

     An Android app is a collection of activities that can be entered and left at will. UI designers think of applications in terms of screens, which is a pretty close analog to activities. An activity provides the developer with a window in which to draw the UI, and each screen of an application typically maps to a single activity. As a user moves from one screen to another, the app launches the next activity from the current one. All activities in an Android app must be declared in the app’s AndroidManifest.xml file. Applications launch their own activities the same as they launch activities in other apps, using the startActivity() method.

     Next, we will discuss Intents. Activities are launched via Intents. There are two types of intents: explicit and implicit. An explicit intent uses the name of the app along with the name of the activity to launch the intended activity. Explicit intents are used by developers for moving between activities within a single app. Activities can be launched on connected devices from the command-line using ADB and the am command (short for Activity Manager). The following is an example of launching the default camera app using an explicit intent. We specify the package name of the camera app and the name of the activity,

adb shell am start -n com.android.camera2/com.android.camera.CaptureActivity

     When developers build their activities to be used by other apps, they label their activities so they may be targeted by implicit intents. As the name implies, an implicit intent doesn’t specify a particular app or activity to launch instead it specifies the sort of thing the user would like to do. When an app launches an activity using an implicit intent the Android operating system looks through all the activities of all the apps on the device (using their manifest files) and finds the activities which declared that they respond to the action (and category) specified in the intent. Next, we will launch the camera app using implicit intents, specifying the IMAGE_CAPTURE action,

adb shell am start -a android.media.action.IMAGE_CAPTURE

We can also launch the camera app directly to video capture,

adb shell am start -a android.media.action.VIDEO_CAMERA

    If multiple applications support the same activity, the user is given a choice as to which activity they would like to handle the intent. This decision is probably familiar to all Android users. For example, if you try to set the wallpaper in your device then it will prompt with different sources to choose the image like from Live Wallpapers, Photos, and Wallpapers. You can use below command to trigger that options,

adb shell am start -a android.intent.action.SET_WALLPAPER

    A data URI can also be specified this is the way we can pass the information along with the intent. We will see an example to open a webpage on the device. This is how deep linking is implemented, the deep links are intents which are matched to activities. Below is the command,

adb shell am start -a android.intent.action.VIEW -d https://journeyofquality.com/

The following URI doesn’t start with https like a web URL does, but Google Maps will recognize it and open the given coordinates,

adb shell am start -a android.intent.action.VIEW -d “geo:10.0077154,76.3374621”

Below is an example to sends some optional text which we would like to share,

adb shell am start -a “android.intent.action.SEND” -e “android.intent.extra.TEXT” “welome to journey of quality” -t “text/plain”

      I believe that now you got some ideas about Android Activities, Intents, and have seen how to launch activities and send intents using ADB. In the Appium Automation flow, by default, Appium parses the AndroidManifest.xml file in the .apk file to find the main activity and package name. Appium then launches the app under test using these parameters. If you would like to launch a different activity in your app, you can use the appPackage and appActivity desired capabilities. Intents can also be described using the capabilities: intentAction, intentCategory, optionalIntentArguments, intentFlags.

   optionalIntentArguments are the extra parameters that can be sent with intents, outlined in the last ADB example about sharing text. intentFlags are a complex set of extra commands which can alter the way activities are launched. They mostly have to do with how the newly launched activity relates to a task.

    Activities can also be launched in the middle of test execution, rather than at the beginning of a session. This can be done using the startActivity command,

driver.startActivity(new Activity(“com.example”, “ActivityName”));

     If you have the .apk file, you can find the manifest by opening any android project in Android Studio and choosing Build > Analyze APK from the top navigation bar. Choose your APK file from the file system and then view the AndroidManifest.xml file. All activities and the intents they respond to will be listed in nodes.

    I hope you enjoyed this article and learned about Activities, Intents and some ADB commands. Try to use the above ADB commands in your automation scripts. You can execute your ADB commands using Runtime.getRuntime().exec(“command”). Enjoy your automation!!!

Reference: Appium Pro

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