App shortcuts overview

As a developer, you can define shortcuts to perform specific actions in your app. These shortcuts can be displayed in a supported launcher and help your users quickly start common or recommended tasks within your app.

This set of guides teaches you how to create and manage app shortcuts. Additionally, you'll learn some best practices that will improve the effectiveness of your shortcuts.

Shortcut types

App shortcuts on Nexus 6P
Figure 1. Using app shortcuts, you can surface key actions and take users deep into your app instantly

Each shortcut references one or more intents, each of which launches a specific action in your app when users select the shortcut. The types of shortcuts that you create for your app depend on the app's key use cases. Examples of actions you can express as shortcuts include the following:

  • Composing a new email in an email app.
  • Navigating users to a particular location in a mapping app.
  • Sending messages to a friend in a communication app.
  • Playing the next episode of a TV show in a media app.
  • Loading the last save point in a gaming app.

Note: Only main activities—activities that handle the Intent.ACTION_MAIN action and the Intent.CATEGORY_LAUNCHER category—can have shortcuts. If an app has multiple main activities, you need to define the set of shortcuts for each activity.

You can publish the following types of shortcuts for your app:

  • Static shortcuts are defined in a resource file that is packaged into an APK or app bundle.
  • Dynamic shortcuts can be published, updated, and removed by your app only at runtime.
  • Pinned shortcuts can be added to supported launchers at runtime, if the user grants permission.

    Note: Users can also create pinned shortcuts themselves by copying your app's static and dynamic shortcuts onto the launcher.

Shortcut limitations

Although you can publish up to five shortcuts (static and dynamic shortcuts combined) at a time for your app, most launchers can only display four.

However, there is no limit to the number of pinned shortcuts to your app that users can create. Even though your app cannot remove pinned shortcuts, it can still disable them.

Note: Although other apps can't access the metadata within your shortcuts, the launcher itself can access this data. Therefore, these metadata should conceal sensitive user information.

To start creating shortcuts for your app, refer to the following pages:

For more details about operations that can be performed on shortcuts, see the ShortcutManager API reference.