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Set up Managed Configurations

If you are developing apps for the enterprise market, you may need to satisfy particular requirements set by a company's policies. Managed configurations, previously known as application restrictions, allow the enterprise administrator to remotely specify settings for apps. This capability is particularly useful for enterprise-approved apps deployed to a managed profile.

For example, an enterprise might require that approved apps allow the enterprise administrator to:

This guide shows how to implement managed configuration settings in your app. To view a sample app with a managed configuration, see AppRestrictionSchema. If you're an EMM developer, refer to the Build a Device Policy Controller guide.

Note: For historical reasons, these configuration settings are known as restrictions, and are implemented with files and classes that use this term (such as RestrictionsManager). However, these restrictions can actually implement a wide range of configuration options, not just restrictions on app functionality.

Remote Configuration Overview

Apps define the managed configuration options that can be remotely set by an administrator. These are arbitrary settings that can be changed by a managed configuration provider. If your app is running on an enterprise device's managed profile, the enterprise administrator can change your app's managed configuration.

The managed configurations provider is another app running on the same device. This app is typically controlled by the enterprise administrator. The enterprise administrator communicates configuration changes to the managed configuration provider app. That app, in turn, changes the configurations on your app.

To provide externally managed configurations:

Define Managed Configurations

Your app can support any managed configuration you want to define. You declare the app's managed configurations in a managed configurations file, and declare the configurations file in the manifest. Creating a configurations file allows other apps to examine the managed configurations your app provides. Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) partners can read your app's configurations by using Google Play APIs.

To define your app's remote configuration options, put the following element in your manifest's <application> element:

<meta-data android:name="android.content.APP_RESTRICTIONS"
    android:resource="@xml/app_restrictions" />

Create a file named app_restrictions.xml in your app's res/xml directory. The structure of that file is described in the reference for RestrictionsManager. The file has a single top-level <restrictions> element, which contains one <restriction> child element for every configuration option the app has.

Note: Do not create localized versions of the managed configuration file. Your app is only allowed to have a single managed configurations file, so configurations will be consistent for your app in all locales.

In an enterprise environment, an EMM will typically use the managed configuration schema to generate a remote console for IT administrators, so the administrators can remotely configure your application.

The managed configuration provider can query the app to find details on the app's available configurations, including their description text. The configurations provider and enterprise administrator can change your app's managed configurations at any time, even when the app is not running.

For example, suppose your app can be remotely configured to allow or forbid it to download data over a cellular connection. Your app could have a <restriction> element like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<restrictions xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android">

  <restriction
    android:key="downloadOnCellular"
    android:title="@string/download_on_cell_title"
    android:restrictionType="bool"
    android:description="@string/download_on_cell_description"
    android:defaultValue="true" />

</restrictions>

You use each configuration's android:key attribute to read its value from a managed configuration bundle. For this reason, each configuration must have a unique key string, and the string cannot be localized. It must be specified with a string literal.

Note: In a production app, android:title and android:description should be drawn from a localized resource file, as described in Localizing with Resources.

An app defines restrictions using bundles within a bundle_array. For example, an app with multiple VPN connection options could define each VPN server configuration in a bundle, with multiple bundles grouped together in a bundle array:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<restrictions xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android" >

  <restriction
    android:key="vpn_configuration_list"
    android:restrictionType="bundle_array">
    <restriction
      android:key="vpn_configuration"
      android:restrictionType="bundle">
      <restriction
        android:key="vpn_server"
        android:restrictionType="string"/>
      <restriction
        android:key="vpn_username"
        android:restrictionType="string"/>
      <restriction
        android:key="vpn_password"
        android:restrictionType="string"/>
    </restriction>
  </restriction>

</restrictions>

The supported types for the android:restrictionType element are listed in Table 1 and documented in the reference for RestrictionsManager and RestrictionEntry.

Table 1. Restriction entry types and usage.

Type android:restrictionType Typical usage
TYPE_BOOLEAN "bool" A boolean value, true or false.
TYPE_STRING "string" A string value, such as a name.
TYPE_INTEGER "integer" An integer with a value from MIN_VALUE to MAX_VALUE.
TYPE_CHOICE "choice" A string value selected from android:entryValues, typically presented as a single-select list.
TYPE_MULTI_SELECT "multi-select" A string array with values selected from android:entryValues. Use this for presenting a multi-select list where more than one entry can be selected, such as for choosing specific titles to white-list.
TYPE_NULL "hidden" Hidden restriction type. Use this type for information that needs to be transferred across but shouldn't be presented to the user in the UI. Stores a single string value.
TYPE_BUNDLE_ARRAY "bundle_array" Use this for storing arrays of restriction bundles. Available in Android 6.0 (API level 23). Note that a restriction bundle can only exist within a bundle array.

Note: android:entryValues are machine readable and cannot be localized. Use android:entries to present human-readable values that can be localized. Each entry must have a corresponding index in android:entryValues.

Check Managed Configurations

Your app is not automatically notified when other apps change its configuration settings. Instead, you need to check what the managed configurations are when your app starts or resumes, and listen for a system intent to find out if the configurations change while your app is running.

To find out the current configuration settings, your app uses a RestrictionsManager object. Your app should check for the current managed configurations at the following times:

To get a RestrictionsManager object, get the current activity with getActivity(), then call that activity's Activity.getSystemService() method:

RestrictionsManager myRestrictionsMgr =
    (RestrictionsManager) getActivity()
        .getSystemService(Context.RESTRICTIONS_SERVICE);

Once you have a RestrictionsManager, you can get the current configuration settings by calling its getApplicationRestrictions() method:

Bundle appRestrictions = myRestrictionsMgr.getApplicationRestrictions();

Note: For convenience, you can also fetch the current configurations with a UserManager, by calling UserManager.getApplicationRestrictions(). This method behaves exactly the same as RestrictionsManager.getApplicationRestrictions().

The getApplicationRestrictions() method requires reading from data storage, so it should be done sparingly. Do not call this method every time you need to know the current configuration. Instead, you should call it once when your app starts or resumes, and cache the fetched managed configurations bundle. Then listen for the ACTION_APPLICATION_RESTRICTIONS_CHANGED intent to find out if the configuration change while your app is active, as described in Listen for Managed Configuration Changes.

Reading and applying managed configurations

The getApplicationRestrictions() method returns a Bundle containing a key-value pair for each configuration that has been set. The values are all of type Boolean, int, String, and String[]. Once you have the managed configurations Bundle, you can check the current configuration settings with the standard Bundle methods for those data types, such as getBoolean() or getString().

Note: The managed configurations Bundle contains one item for every configuration that has been explicitly set by a managed configurations provider. However, you cannot assume that a configuration will be present in the bundle just because you defined a default value in the managed configurations XML file.

It is up to your app to take appropriate action based on the current managed configuration settings. For example, if your app has a configuration specifying whether it can download data over a cellular connection, and you find that the configuration is set to false, you would have to disable data download except when the device has a Wi-Fi connection, as shown in the following example code:

boolean appCanUseCellular;

if (appRestrictions.containsKey("downloadOnCellular")) {
    appCanUseCellular = appRestrictions.getBoolean("downloadOnCellular");
} else {
    // cellularDefault is a boolean using the restriction's default value
    appCanUseCellular = cellularDefault;
}

if (!appCanUseCellular) {
    // ...turn off app's cellular-download functionality
    // ...show appropriate notices to user
}

To apply multiple nested restrictions, read the bundle_array restriction entry as a collection of Parcelable objects and cast as a Bundle. In this example, each VPN's configuration data is parsed and used to build a list of server connection choices:

// VpnConfig is a sample class used store config data, not defined
List<VpnConfig> vpnConfigs = new ArrayList<>();

Parcelable[] parcelables =
    appRestrictions.getParcelableArray("vpn_configuration_list");

if (parcelables != null && parcelables.length > 0) {
    // iterate parcelables and cast as bundle
    for (int i = 0; i < parcelables.length; i++) {
        Bundle vpnConfigBundle = (Bundle) parcelables[i];
        // parse bundle data and store in VpnConfig array
        vpnConfigs.add(new VpnConfig()
            .setServer(vpnConfigBundle.getString("vpn_server"))
            .setUsername(vpnConfigBundle.getString("vpn_username"))
            .setPassword(vpnConfigBundle.getString("vpn_password")));
    }
}

if (!vpnConfigs.isEmpty()) {
    // ...choose a VPN configuration or prompt user to select from list
}

Listen for Managed Configuration Changes

Whenever an app's managed configurations are changed, the system fires the ACTION_APPLICATION_RESTRICTIONS_CHANGED intent. Your app has to listen for this intent so you can change the app's behavior when the configuration settings change.

Note: The ACTION_APPLICATION_RESTRICTIONS_CHANGED intent is sent only to listeners that are dynamically registered, not to listeners that are declared in the app manifest.

The following code shows how to dynamically register a broadcast receiver for this intent:

IntentFilter restrictionsFilter =
    new IntentFilter(Intent.ACTION_APPLICATION_RESTRICTIONS_CHANGED);

BroadcastReceiver restrictionsReceiver = new BroadcastReceiver() {
  @Override public void onReceive(Context context, Intent intent) {

    // Get the current configuration bundle
    Bundle appRestrictions = myRestrictionsMgr.getApplicationRestrictions();

    // Check current configuration settings, change your app's UI and
    // functionality as necessary.
  }
};

registerReceiver(restrictionsReceiver, restrictionsFilter);

Note: Ordinarily, your app does not need to be notified about configuration changes when it is paused. Instead, you should unregister your broadcast receiver when the app is paused. When the app resumes, you first check for the current managed configurations (as discussed in Check Managed Configurations), then register your broadcast receiver to make sure you're notified about configuration changes that happen while the app is active.

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