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  1. CMake Variables

Using Android Studio 2.2 and higher, you can use the NDK and CMake to compile C and C++ code into a native library. Android Studio then packages your library into your APK using Gradle, the IDE's integrated build system.

If you are new to using CMake with Android Studio, go to Add C and C++ Code to Your Project to learn the basics of adding native sources to your project, creating a CMake build script, and adding your CMake project as a Gradle dependency. This page provides some additional information you can use to customize your CMake build.

Using CMake Variables

Once you link Gradle to your CMake project, you can configure certain NDK-specific variables that change the way CMake builds your native libraries. To pass an argument to CMake from your module-level build.gradle file, use the following DSL:

android {
  defaultConfig {
    // This block is different from the one you use to link Gradle
    // to your CMake build script.
    externalNativeBuild {
      cmake {
        // Use the following syntax when passing arguments to variables:
        // arguments "-DVAR_NAME=VALUE"
        arguments "-DANDROID_ARM_NEON=TRUE", "-DANDROID_TOOLCHAIN=clang"
  buildTypes {...}

  // Use this block to link Gradle to your CMake build script.
  externalNativeBuild {
    cmake {...}

The following table describes some of the variables you can configure when using CMake with the NDK.

Variable name Arguments Description
  • gcc
  • clang (default)

Specifies the compiler toolchain CMake should use.


For a complete list of platform names and corresponding Android system images, see Android NDK Native APIs.

Specifies the name of the target Android platform. For example, android-18 specifies Android 4.3 (API level 18).


For a complete list of options, see Helper Runtimes

By default, CMake uses gnustl_static.

Specifies the STL CMake should use.

  • ON (default when ANDROID_PLATFORM = android-16 and higher)
  • OFF (default when ANDROID_PLATFORM = android-15 and lower)

Specifies whether to use position-independent executables (PIE). Android's dynamic linker supports PIE on Android 4.1 (API level 16) and higher.


This variable is empty by default. However, the following are a few examples of arguments you can pass:

  • rtti (indicates that your code uses RTTI)
  • exceptions (indicates that your code uses C++ exceptions)

Specifies certain C++ features CMake needs to use when compiling your native library, such as RTTI (RunTime Type Information) and C++ exceptions.

  • TRUE
  • FALSE (default)

Specifies whether to throw an undefined symbol error if CMake encounters an undefined reference while building your native library. To disable these types of errors, set this variable to TRUE.

  • arm
  • thumb (default)

Specifies whether to generate ARM target binaries in arm or thumb mode. In thumb mode, each instruction is 16 bits wide and linked with the STL libraries in the thumb/ directory. Passing arm tells CMake to generate your library's object files in 32-bit arm mode.

  • TRUE
  • FALSE (default)

Specifies whether CMake should build your native library with NEON support.

  • TRUE
  • FALSE (default)

Specifies whether to enable NX bit, or No eXecute, security feature. To disable this feature, pass TRUE.

  • TRUE
  • FALSE (default)

Specifies whether to enable read-only relocations.

  • TRUE
  • FALSE (default)

Specifies whether to compile your source code with format string protection. When enabled, the compiler throws an error if a non-constant format string is used in a printf-style function.

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