created_at2022-07-03 23:23:48.756625
updated_at2024-04-26 16:26:56.481358
descriptionGlue for building Rust applications on Android with NativeActivity or GameActivity
Robert Bragg (rib)




ci Docs MSRV


android-activity provides a "glue" layer for building native Rust applications on Android, supporting multiple Activity base classes. It's comparable to android_native_app_glue.c for C/C++ applications and is an alternative to the ndk-glue crate.

android-activity provides a way to load your crate as a cdylib library via the onCreate method of your Android Activity class; run an android_main() function in a separate thread from the Java main thread and marshal events (such as lifecycle events and input events) between Java and your native thread.

So far it supports NativeActivity or GameActivity (from the Android Game Development Kit) and there's also interest in supporting a first-party RustActivity base class that could be better tailored to the needs of Rust applications.



log = "0.4"
android_logger = "0.13"
android-activity = { version = "0.5", features = [ "native-activity" ] }

crate_type = ["cdylib"]

Note: that you will need to either specify the "native-activity" feature or "game-activity" feature to identify which Activity base class your application is based on

use android_activity::{AndroidApp, InputStatus, MainEvent, PollEvent};

fn android_main(app: AndroidApp) {

    loop {
        app.poll_events(Some(std::time::Duration::from_millis(500)) /* timeout */, |event| {
            match event {
                PollEvent::Wake => { log::info!("Early wake up"); },
                PollEvent::Timeout => { log::info!("Hello, World!"); },
                PollEvent::Main(main_event) => {
                    log::info!("Main event: {:?}", main_event);
                    match main_event {
                        MainEvent::Destroy => { return; }
                        _ => {}
                _ => {}

            app.input_events(|event| {
                log::info!("Input Event: {event:?}");
rustup target add aarch64-linux-android
cargo install cargo-apk
cargo apk run
adb logcat example:V *:S

Full Examples

See this collection of examples (based on both GameActivity and NativeActivity).

Each example is a standalone project that may also be a convenient templates for starting a new project.

For the examples based on middleware frameworks (Winit and or Egui) they also aim to demonstrate how it's possible to write portable code that will run on Android and other systems.

Should I use NativeActivity or GameActivity?

To learn more about the NativeActivity class that's shipped with Android see here.

To learn more about the GameActivity class that's part of the Android Game Developer's Kit and also see a comparison with NativeActivity see here

Generally speaking, if unsure, NativeActivity may be more convenient to start with since you may not need to compile/link any Java or Kotlin code.

It's expected that the GameActivity backend will gain more sophisticated input handling features over time (such as for supporting input via onscreen keyboards or game controllers) and only GameActivity is based on the AppCompatActivity subclass which you may want in some situations to help with compatibility across devices.

Even if you start out using NativeActivity for the convenience, it's likely that most moderately complex applications will eventually need to define their own Activity subclass (either subclassing NativeActivity or GameActivity) which will require compiling at least a small amount of Java or Kotlin code. This is generally due to Android's design which directs numerous events via the Activity class which can only be processed by overloading some associated Activity method.

Switching from ndk-glue to android-activity

Winit-based applications

Firstly; if you have a Winit based application and also have an explicit dependency on ndk-glue your application will need to remove its dependency on ndk-glue for the 0.28 release of Winit which will be based on android-activity (Since glue crates, due to their nature, can't be compatible with alternative glue crates).

Winit-based applications can follow the Android README guidance for advice on how to switch over. Most Winit-based applications should aim to remove any explicit dependency on a specific glue crate (so not depend directly on ndk-glue or android-activity and instead rely on Winit to pull in the right glue crate). The main practical change will then be to add a #[no_mangle]fn android_main(app: AndroidApp) entry point.

See the Android README for more details and also see the Winit-based examples here.

Middleware crates (i.e. not applications)

If you have a crate that would be considered a middleware library (for example using JNI to support access to Bluetooth, or Android's Camera APIs) then the crate should almost certainly remove any dependence on a specific glue crate because this imposes a strict compatibility constraint that means the crate can only be used by applications that use that exact same glue crate version.

Middleware libraries can instead look at using the ndk-context crate as a means for being able to use JNI without making any assumptions about the applications overall architecture. This way a middleware crate can work with alternative glue crates (including ndk-glue and android-activity) as well as work with embedded use cases (i.e. non-native applications that may just embed a dynamic library written in Rust to implement certain native functions).

Other, non-Winit-based applications

The steps to switch a simple standalone application over from ndk-glue to android-activity (still based on NativeActivity) should be:

  1. Remove ndk-glue from your Cargo.toml
  2. Add a dependency on android-activity, like android-activity = { version="0.5", features = [ "native-activity" ] }
  3. Optionally add a dependency on android_logger = "0.13.0"
  4. Update the main entry point to look like this:
use android_activity::AndroidApp;

fn android_main(app: AndroidApp) {

See this minimal NativeActivity Mainloop for more details about how to poll for events.

There is is no #[ndk_glue::main] replacement considering that android_main() entry point needs to be passed an AndroidApp argument which isn't compatible with a traditional main() function. Having an Android specific entry point also gives a place to initialize Android logging and handle other Android specific details (such as building an event loop based on the app argument)

Design Summary / Motivation behind android-activity

Prior to working on android-activity, the existing glue crates available for building standalone Rust applications on Android were found to have a number of technical limitations that this crate aimed to solve:

  1. Support alternative Activity classes: Prior glue crates were based on NativeActivity and their API precluded supporting alternatives. In particular there was an interest in the GameActivity class in conjunction with it's GameTextInput library that can facilitate onscreen keyboard support. This also allows building applications based on the standard AppCompatActivity base class which isn't possible with NativeActivity. Finally there was interest in paving the way towards supporting a first-party RustActivity that could be best tailored towards the needs of Rust applications on Android.
  2. Encapsulate IPC + synchronization between the native thread and the JVM thread: For example with ndk-glue the application itself needs to avoid race conditions between the native and Java thread by following a locking convention) and it wasn't clear how this would extend to support other requests (like state saving) that also require synchronization.
  3. Avoid static global state: Keeping in mind the possibility of supporting applications with multiple native activities there was interest in having an API that didn't rely on global statics to track top-level state. Instead of having global getters for state then android-activity passes an explicit app: AndroidApp argument to the entry point that encapsulates the state connected with a single Activity.


We aim to (at least) support stable releases of Rust from the last three months. Rust has a 6 week release cycle which means we will support the last three stable releases. For example, when Rust 1.69 is released we would limit our rust-version to 1.67.

We will only bump the rust-version at the point where we either depend on a new features or a dependency has increased its MSRV, and we won't be greedy. In other words we will only set the MSRV to the lowest version that's needed.

MSRV updates are not considered to be inherently semver breaking (unless a new feature is exposed in the public API) and so a rust-version change may happen in patch releases.

Commit count: 286

cargo fmt