python-for-android supports the use of Android Services, background tasks running in separate processes. These are the closest Android equivalent to multiprocessing on e.g. desktop platforms, and it is not possible to use normal multiprocessing on Android. Services are also the only way to run code when your app is not currently opened by the user.

Services must be declared when building your APK. Each one will have its own file with the Python script to be run. Please note that python-for-android explicitly runs services as separated processes by having a colon “:” in the beginning of the name assigned to the android:process attribute of the AndroidManifest.xml file. This is not the default behavior, see Android service documentation. You can communicate with the service process from your app using e.g. osc or (a heavier option) twisted.

Service creation#

There are two ways to have services included in your APK.

Service folder#

This is the older method of handling services. It is recommended to use the second method (below) where possible.

Create a folder named service in your app directory, and add a file service/ This file should contain the Python code that you want the service to run.

To start the service, use the start_service function from the android module (you may need to add android to your app requirements):

import android
android.start_service(title='service name',
                      description='service description',
                      arg='argument to service')

Arbitrary service scripts#

This method is recommended for non-trivial use of services as it is more flexible, supporting multiple services and a wider range of options.

To create the service, create a python script with your service code and add a --service=myservice:PATH_TO_SERVICE_PY argument when calling python-for-android, or in buildozer.spec, a services = myservice:PATH_TO_SERVICE_PY [app] setting.

The myservice name before the colon is the name of the service class, via which you will interact with it later.

The PATH_TO_SERVICE_PY is the relative path to the service entry point (like services/

You can optionally specify the following parameters:
  • :foreground for launching a service as an Android foreground service

  • :sticky for launching a service that gets restarted by the Android OS on exit/error

Full command with all the optional parameters included would be: --service=myservice:services/

You can add multiple --service arguments to include multiple services, or separate them with a comma in buildozer.spec, all of which you will later be able to stop and start from your app.

To run the services (i.e. starting them from within your main app code), you must use PyJNIus to interact with the java class python-for-android creates for each one, as follows:

from jnius import autoclass
service = autoclass('')
mActivity = autoclass('').mActivity
argument = ''
service.start(mActivity, argument)

Here, refers to the package identifier of your APK.

If you are using buildozer, the identifier is set by the and package.domain values in your buildozer.spec file. The name of the service is ServiceMyservice, where Myservice is the name specied by one of the services values, but with the first letter upper case.

If you are using python-for-android directly, the identifier is set by the --package argument to python-for-android. The name of the service is ServiceMyservice, where Myservice is the identifier that was previously passed to the --service argument, but with the first letter upper case. You must also pass the argument parameter even if (as here) it is an empty string. If you do pass it, the service can make use of this argument.

The service argument is made available to your service via the ‘PYTHON_SERVICE_ARGUMENT’ environment variable. It is exposed as a simple string, so if you want to pass in multiple values, we would recommend using the json module to encode and decode more complex data.

from os import environ
argument = environ.get('PYTHON_SERVICE_ARGUMENT', '')

To customize the notification icon, title, and text use three optional arguments to service.start():

service.start(mActivity, 'small_icon', 'title', 'content' , argument)

Where ‘small_icon’ is the name of an Android drawable or mipmap resource, and ‘title’ and ‘content’ are strings in the notification.

Services support a range of options and interactions not yet documented here but all accessible via calling other methods of the service reference.


The app root directory for Python imports will be in the app root folder even if the service file is in a subfolder. To import from your service folder you must use e.g. import service.module instead of import module, if the service file is in the service/ folder.

Service auto-restart#

It is possible to make services restart automatically when they exit by calling setAutoRestartService(True) on the service object. The call to this method should be done within the service code:

from jnius import autoclass
PythonService = autoclass('')