Creating a Bound Service

When creating a service that provides binding, you must provide an IBinder that provides the programming interface that clients can use to interact with the service. There are three ways you can define the interface:

  • Extending the Binder class (service is private and runs in the same process as the client)
  • Using a Messenger (service works across different processes)
  • Using AIDL (more low-level)

Commonly we use the way of extending the binder class.

Extending the Binder Class

#1. Right click in your application package to new a Service, and name it whatever you like.


Let’s say we will have a MagellanService.

#2. Create an inner class which extends Binder, and make a method getService() to return the instance of MagellanService so clients can call public methods.

    public class MagellanBinder extends Binder {
        MagellanService getService() {
            return MagellanService.this;

You’ll have it like:


#3. Finish the defualt existed onBind() method, which returns the instance of Binder.

public class MagellanService extends Service {

    private final IBinder mBinder = new MagellanBinder();

    public IBinder onBind(Intent intent) {
        return mBinder;

#4. Create some public methods so that clients can call them.

    /** method for clients */
    public String getHiFromService() {
      return "Hi";

There you go! You will be having this like:


Create your Client

An example of an activity that binds to MagellanService and calls getHiFromService() when a button is clicked:

#1. Defines callbacks for service binding, passed to bindService()

public class BindingActivity extends Activity {
    MagellanService mService;
    boolean mBound = false;

    private ServiceConnection mConnection = new ServiceConnection() {

            public void onServiceConnected(ComponentName className,
                    IBinder service) {
                // We've bound to MagellanService, cast the IBinder and get MagellanService instance
                MagellanBinder binder = (MagellanBinder) service;
                mService = binder.getService();
                mBound = true;

            public void onServiceDisconnected(ComponentName arg0) {
                mBound = false;

#2. Bind to your Service

    protected void onStart() {
        // Bind to your service
        Intent intent = new Intent(this, MagellanService.class);
        bindService(intent, mConnection, Context.BIND_AUTO_CREATE);
  • The first parameter of bindService() is an Intent that explicitly names the service to bind (thought the intent could be implicit).
  • The second parameter is the ServiceConnection object.
  • The third parameter is a flag indicating options for the binding. It should usually be BIND_AUTO_CREATE in order to create the service if its not already alive. Other possible values are BIND_DEBUG_UNBIND and BIND_NOT_FOREGROUND, or 0 for none.

#3. Unbind from the Service

    protected void onStop() {
        // Unbind from the service
        if (mBound) {
            mBound = false;

#4. Attach the button in the layout file to this onButtonClick() method with the android:onClick attribute

    public void onButtonClick(View v) {
        if (mBound) {
            // Call a method from the MagellanService.
            // However, if this call were something that might hang, then this request should
            // occur in a separate thread to avoid slowing down the activity performance.
            String msg = mService.getHiFromService();
            Toast.makeText(this, "Hi from Service: " + msg, Toast.LENGTH_SHORT).show();

For more sample code, see the class and the class in ApiDemos.

Important Notes about Binding to a Service

  • Always trap DeadObjectException exceptions, which are thrown when the connection has broken. This is the only exception thrown by remote methods.
  • Objects are reference counted across processes.
  • Usually pair the binding and unbinding for handling the client’s lifecycle.
    • for onStart() + onStop()
    • for onCreate() + onDestroy() (heavy weight of the process, system more likely kill it)
    • *NOT* for onResume() + onPause()

For more sample code, showing how to bind to a service, see the class in ApiDemos.

Lifecycle of a Bound Service


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Bound Services