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Foreground services

Foreground services perform operations that are noticeable to the user.

Each foreground service must show a status bar notification that has a priority of PRIORITY_LOW or higher. That way, users are actively aware that your app is performing a task in the foreground and is consuming system resources. The notification cannot be dismissed unless the service is either stopped or removed from the foreground.

If an app tries to use a status bar notification whose priority is lower than PRIORITY_LOW, the system adds a message to the notification drawer, alerting the user to the app's use of a foreground service.

Examples of apps that would use foreground services include the following:

  • A music player app that plays music in a foreground service. The notification might show the current song that is being played.
  • A fitness app that records a user's run in a foreground service, after receiving permission from the user. The notification might show the distance that the user has traveled during the current fitness session.

You should only use a foreground service when your app needs to perform a task that is noticeable by the user even when they're not directly interacting with the app. If the action is of low enough importance that you want to use a minimum-priority notification, create a background task instead.

This document describes the required permission for using foreground services, how to start a foreground service and remove it from the background, how to associate certain use cases with foreground service types, and the while-in-use access restrictions that take effect when you start a foreground service from the background.

Request the foreground service permission

Apps that target Android 9 (API level 28) or higher and use foreground services must request the FOREGROUND_SERVICE permission, as shown in the following code snippet. This is a normal permission, so the system automatically grants it to the requesting app.

<manifest xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android" ...>

    <uses-permission android:name="android.permission.FOREGROUND_SERVICE"/>

    <application ...>
        ...
    </application>
</manifest>

Start a foreground service

To request that your service run in the foreground, call startForeground(). This method takes two parameters: a positive integer that uniquely identifies the notification in the status bar and the Notification object itself. The notification must have a priority of PRIORITY_LOW or higher. Here is an example:

Kotlin

val pendingIntent: PendingIntent =
        Intent(this, ExampleActivity::class.java).let { notificationIntent ->
            PendingIntent.getActivity(this, 0, notificationIntent, 0)
        }

val notification: Notification = Notification.Builder(this, CHANNEL_DEFAULT_IMPORTANCE)
        .setContentTitle(getText(R.string.notification_title))
        .setContentText(getText(R.string.notification_message))
        .setSmallIcon(R.drawable.icon)
        .setContentIntent(pendingIntent)
        .setTicker(getText(R.string.ticker_text))
        .build()

// Notification ID cannot be 0.
startForeground(ONGOING_NOTIFICATION_ID, notification)

Java

Intent notificationIntent = new Intent(this, ExampleActivity.class);
PendingIntent pendingIntent =
        PendingIntent.getActivity(this, 0, notificationIntent, 0);

Notification notification =
          new Notification.Builder(this, CHANNEL_DEFAULT_IMPORTANCE)
    .setContentTitle(getText(R.string.notification_title))
    .setContentText(getText(R.string.notification_message))
    .setSmallIcon(R.drawable.icon)
    .setContentIntent(pendingIntent)
    .setTicker(getText(R.string.ticker_text))
    .build();

// Notification ID cannot be 0.
startForeground(ONGOING_NOTIFICATION_ID, notification);

Remove a service from the foreground

To remove the service from the foreground, call stopForeground(). This method takes a boolean, which indicates whether to remove the status bar notification as well. Note that the service continues to run.

If you stop the service while it's running in the foreground, its notification is removed.

Declare foreground service types

If your app targets Android 10 (API level 29) or higher and accesses location information in a foreground service, declare the location foreground service type as an attribute of your <service> component.

If your app targets Android 11 (API level 30) or higher and accesses the camera or microphone in a foreground service, declare the camera or microphone foreground service types, respectively, as attributes of your <service> component.

By default, when you call startForeground() at runtime, the system allows access to each of the service types that you declare in the app manifest. You can choose to limit access to a subset of the declared service types, as shown in the code snippets within the following sections.

Example using location and camera

If a foreground service in your app needs to access the device's location and camera, declare the service as shown in the following snippet:

AndroidManifest.xml

<manifest>
    ...
    <service ... android:foregroundServiceType="location|camera" />
</manifest>

At runtime, if the foreground service only needs access to a subset of the types declared in the manifest, you can limit the service's access using the logic in the following code snippet:

MyService

Kotlin

val notification: Notification = ...;
Service.startForeground(notification, FOREGROUND_SERVICE_TYPE_LOCATION)

Java

Notification notification = ...;
Service.startForeground(notification, FOREGROUND_SERVICE_TYPE_LOCATION);

Example using location, camera, and microphone

If a foreground service needs to access location, the camera, and the microphone, declare the service as shown in the following snippet:

AndroidManifest.xml

<manifest>
    ...
    <service ...
        android:foregroundServiceType="location|camera|microphone" />
</manifest>

At runtime, if the foreground service only needs access to a subset of the types declared in the manifest, you can limit the service's access using the logic in the following code snippet:

MyService

Kotlin

val notification: Notification = ...;
Service.startForeground(notification,
        FOREGROUND_SERVICE_TYPE_LOCATION or FOREGROUND_SERVICE_TYPE_CAMERA)

Java

Notification notification = ...;
Service.startForeground(notification,
        FOREGROUND_SERVICE_TYPE_LOCATION | FOREGROUND_SERVICE_TYPE_CAMERA);

Add foreground service types of Work Manager workers

If your app uses Work Manager and has a long-running worker that requires access to location, camera, or microphone, follow the steps to add a foreground service type to a long-running worker, and specify the additional or alternative foreground service types that your worker uses. You can choose from the following foreground service types:

While-in-use restrictions

On Android 11 (API level 30) and higher, if your app starts a foreground service while running in the background, the service has the following access restrictions:

  • Unless the user has granted the ACCESS_BACKGROUND_LOCATION permission to your app, the service cannot access location.
  • The service cannot access the microphone or camera.

If, on the other hand, your app starts a foreground service while running in the foreground, the service has the following access allowances:

  • If the user has granted the ACCESS_BACKGROUND_LOCATION permission to your app, the service can access location all the time. Otherwise, if the user has granted the ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION or ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION permission to your app, the service has while-in-use access to location.
  • If the user has granted the CAMERA permission to your app, the service has while-in-use access to the camera.
  • If the user has granted the RECORD_AUDIO permission to your app, the service has while-in-use access to the microphone.

Exemptions to while-in-use restrictions

When a foreground service starts in one of the following situations, the service is exempt from the restrictions on while-in-use access to location, camera, and microphone:

  • The service is started by a system component.
  • The service is started by interacting with app widgets.
  • The service is started by interacting with a notification.
  • The service is started as a PendingIntent that is sent from a different, visible app.
  • The service is started by an app that is a device policy controller that is running in device owner mode.
  • The service is started by an app which provides the VoiceInteractionService.
  • The service is started by an app that has the START_ACTIVITIES_FROM_BACKGROUND privileged permission.

Additionally, if the service has a foreground service type of location and is started by an app that has the ACCESS_BACKGROUND_LOCATION permission, this service has all-the-time access to location.

Determine which services are affected in your app

When testing your app, start its foreground services. If a started service has restricted access to location, microphone, and camera, the following message appears in Logcat:

Foreground service started from background can not have \
location/camera/microphone access: service SERVICE_NAME