Android O re-architects the Android OS to define clear interfaces between the device-independent Android platform and device- and vendor-specific code. Android already defines many such interfaces in the form of HAL interfaces, defined as C headers in hardware/libhardware. HIDL replaces these HAL interfaces with stable, versioned interfaces, which can be in Java (described below) or as client- and server-side HIDL interfaces in C++.

HIDL interfaces are intended to be used primarily from native code, and as a result HIDL is focused on the auto-generation of efficient code in C++. However, HIDL interfaces must also be able to be used directly from Java as some Android subsystems (such as Telephony) will most likely have Java HIDL interfaces.

The pages in this section describe the Java frontend for HIDL interfaces, detail how to create, register, and use services, and explain how HALs and HAL clients written in Java interact with the HIDL RPC system.

Being a client

To access an interface IFoo in package android.hardware.foo version 1.0 that is registered as service name foo-bar:

  1. Add libraries:
    • Add the following to Android.mk:
      LOCAL_STATIC_JAVA_LIBRARIES += android.hardware.foo-V1.0-java
    • Add the following to Android.bp:
      static_libs: [
          /* … */
  2. Add the following to your Java file:
    import android.hardware.foo.V1_0.IFoo;
    // retry to wait until the service starts up if it is in the manifest
    IFoo server = IFoo.getService(true /* retry */); // throws NoSuchElementException if not available
    IFoo anotherServer = IFoo.getService("second_impl", true /* retry */);

    Warning: Java getService with no arguments will not wait for the service to start.

Providing a service

Framework code in Java may need to serve interfaces to receive asynchronous callbacks from HALs.

Warning: Do not implement a driver (HAL) in Java. We strongly recommend you implement drivers in C++.

Warning: Java drivers must be in a separate process from their clients (same process communication is not supported).

For interface IFooCallback in version 1.0 of package android.hardware.foo, you can implement your interface in Java using the following steps:

  1. Define your interface in HIDL.
  2. Open /tmp/android/hardware/foo/IFooCallback.java as a reference.
  3. Create a new module for your Java implementation.
  4. Examine the abstract class android.hardware.foo.V1_0.IFooCallback.Stub, then write a new class to extend it and implement the abstract methods.

Viewing auto-generated files

To view the automatically-generated files, run:

hidl-gen -o /tmp -Ljava \
  -randroid.hardware:hardware/interfaces \
  -randroid.hidl:system/libhidl/transport android.hardware.foo@1.0

These commands generate the directory /tmp/android/hardware/foo/1.0. For the file hardware/interfaces/foo/1.0/IFooCallback.hal, this generates the file /tmp/android/hardware/foo/1.0/IFooCallback.java, which encapsulates the Java interface, the proxy code, and the stubs (both proxy and stubs conform to the interface).

-Lmakefile generates the rules that run this command at build time and allow you to include android.hardware.foo-V1.0-java and link against the appropriate files. A script that automatically does this for a project full of interfaces can be found at hardware/interfaces/update-makefiles.sh. The paths in this example are relative; hardware/interfaces can be a temporary directory under your code tree to enable you to develop a HAL prior to publishing it.

Running a service

The HAL provides an interface IFoo, which must make asynchronous callbacks to the framework over interface IFooCallback. The IFooCallback interface is not registered by name as a discoverable service; instead, IFoo must contain a method such as setFooCallback(IFooCallback x).

To set up IFooCallback from version 1.0 of package android.hardware.foo, add android.hardware.foo-V1.0-java to Android.mk. The code to run the service is:

import android.hardware.foo.V1_0.IFoo;
import android.hardware.foo.V1_0.IFooCallback.Stub;
class FooCallback extends IFooCallback.Stub {
    // implement methods
// Get the service you will be receiving callbacks from.
// This also starts the threadpool for your callback service.
IFoo server = IFoo.getService(true /* retry */); // throws NoSuchElementException if not available
// This must be a persistent instance variable, not local,
//   to avoid premature garbage collection.
FooCallback mFooCallback = new FooCallback();
// Do this once to create the callback service and tell the "foo-bar" service

Interface extensions

Assuming a given service implements an interface IFoo across all devices, it's possible that on a particular device the service may provide additional capabilities implemented in an interface extension IBetterFoo, i.e.:

interface IFoo {

interface IBetterFoo extends IFoo {

Calling code aware of the extended interface can use the castFrom() Java method to safely cast the base interface to the extended interface:

IFoo baseService = IFoo.getService(true /* retry */); // throws NoSuchElementException if not available
IBetterFoo extendedService = IBetterFoo.castFrom(baseService);
if (extendedService != null) {
  // The service implements the extended interface.
} else {
  // The service only implements the base interface.