Using native dependencies

Starting with Android Gradle Plugin 4.0, C/C++ dependencies can be imported from AARs linked in your build.gradle file. Gradle will automatically make these available to the native build system, but your build system must be configured to make use of the imported libraries and headers. Since C/C++ dependencies are distributed as AARs, the following links about generic AARs may be helpful:

  • Creating an Android Library for generic AAR documentation and how to integrate it into your project, especially when you want to use the AAR as a local C/C++ dependency.
  • Add build dependencies for information on adding dependencies to your build.gradle file, especially for the remote dependencies.

This document focuses on how to configure your native build system and assumes you've already added a C/C++ dependency AAR into your project's Gradle build environment.

Native dependencies in AARs

AAR dependencies of your Gradle modules can expose native libraries for use by your application. Inside the AAR, the prefab directory contains a Prefab package, which includes the headers and libraries of the native dependency.

Each dependency can expose at most one Prefab package, which comprises one or more modules. A Prefab module is a single library, which could be either a shared, static, or header only library.

The package and module names need to be known to make use of the libraries. By convention the package name will match the Maven artifact name and the module name will match the C/C++ library name, but this is not required. Consult the dependency's documentation to determine what names it uses.

Build system configuration

The prefab feature must be enabled for your Android Gradle module.

To do so, add the following to the android block of your module's build.gradle file:

buildFeatures {
  prefab true

Dependencies imported from an AAR are exposed to CMake via CMAKE_FIND_ROOT_PATH. This value will be set automatically by Gradle when CMake is invoked, so if your build modifies this variable be sure to append rather than assign to it.

Each dependency exposes a config-file package to your build. These are imported with the find_package command. This command searches for config-file packages matching the given package name and version and exposes the targets it defines to be used in your build. For example, if your application defines and it uses cURL, your CMakeLists.txt should include the following:

add_library(app SHARED app.cpp)

# Add these two lines.
find_package(curl REQUIRED CONFIG)
target_link_libraries(app curl::curl)

app.cpp is now able to #include "curl/curl.h", will be automatically linked against when building, and will be included in the APK.