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  • Writer's pictureRobin Alex Panicker

How to use Android Media APIs efficiently in Kotlin


How to use Android Media APIs efficiently in Kotlin

The Android platform offers a range of powerful Media APIs that empower developers to build multimedia-rich applications. Whether you're creating a music player, video streaming app, or camera application, understanding how to efficiently utilize these APIs is essential for delivering an optimal user experience.


In this blog post, we will explore various tips and techniques to make the most out of Android's Media APIs using Kotlin.


1. Choose the Right Android Media API


Android provides different Media APIs based on specific use cases. Understanding the strengths and limitations of each API will help you select the most suitable one for your application.


The primary Media APIs are:

1.1 MediaPlayer


Ideal for playing audio and video files from local storage or network sources. It offers extensive control over playback, including pause, resume, seek, and volume adjustments.

1.2 ExoPlayer


A flexible media player library supporting various formats and advanced features like adaptive streaming, DRM, and media session integration. It offers high customization and superior performance for media-rich applications.

1.3 MediaRecorder


Enables audio and video recording using device hardware resources. It supports multiple audio and video formats, as well as configuration options for quality, bitrate, and output file format.


2. Handle Media Playback Responsibly


Efficient media playback is crucial for a seamless user experience. Consider the following tips to optimize media playback using Android Media APIs:

2.1 Use AudioFocus To Avoid Interference With Other Apps


Request audio focus when playing audio to prevent your app from interfering with other apps playing audio. Implement the AudioManager.OnAudioFocusChangeListener to handle focus changes appropriately.

val audioManager = getSystemService(Context.AUDIO_SERVICE) as AudioManager
val audioFocusChangeListener = AudioManager.OnAudioFocusChangeListener { focusChange ->
    // Handle audio focus changes
}

val result = audioManager.requestAudioFocus(
    audioFocusChangeListener,
    AudioManager.STREAM_MUSIC,
    AudioManager.AUDIOFOCUS_GAIN
)

if (result == AudioManager.AUDIOFOCUS_REQUEST_GRANTED) {
    // Start audio playback
} else {
    // Handle audio focus denial
}


2.2 Release Resources After Need


Always release MediaPlayer or ExoPlayer resources when they are no longer needed. Call release() to release the player and associated resources. Failing to release resources can lead to memory leaks and performance issues.

// Creating a MediaPlayer instance
val mediaPlayer = MediaPlayer()

// Start playback
mediaPlayer.start()

// Release resources when playback is finished
mediaPlayer.setOnCompletionListener {
    mediaPlayer.release()
}


2.3 Implement Buffering


When streaming media, implement buffering techniques to ensure uninterrupted playback. Use setOnBufferingUpdateListener to monitor buffering progress and adjust playback accordingly.

mediaPlayer.setOnBufferingUpdateListener { _, percent ->
    // Update UI or take action based on buffering progress
}


2.4 Use Asynchronous Operations


Perform media operations asynchronously to prevent blocking the main UI thread. Use background threads, Kotlin coroutines, or libraries like RxJava for efficient handling of media-related tasks.

// Example using Kotlin coroutines
CoroutineScope(Dispatchers.IO).launch {
    // Perform media operation asynchronously
    withContext(Dispatchers.Main) {
        // Update UI or take action on the main thread
    }
}


3. Optimize Video Playback


Video playback often requires additional optimizations to provide a smooth experience. Consider the following techniques:

3.1 SurfaceView vs. TextureView


Use SurfaceView for simple video playback and TextureView for advanced features like video scaling, rotation, and cropping. TextureView provides more flexibility but may have performance implications.

// Example using SurfaceView
val surfaceView = findViewById<SurfaceView>(R.id.surfaceView)
val mediaPlayer = MediaPlayer()

mediaPlayer.setDisplay(surfaceView.holder)


3.2 Hardware Acceleration


Enable hardware acceleration for video decoding by setting the android:hardwareAccelerated attribute to true in the application's manifest file. This offloads the decoding process to dedicated hardware, improving performance.

<!-- Inside AndroidManifest.xml -->
<application android:hardwareAccelerated="true" ...>
<!-- App components -->
</application>

3.3 Adaptive Streaming


Utilize ExoPlayer's support for adaptive streaming protocols like HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) and DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) to deliver smooth playback across different network conditions. These protocols adjust the quality based on available bandwidth.

// Example using ExoPlayer with adaptive streaming
val exoPlayer = SimpleExoPlayer.Builder(context)
    .setMediaSourceFactory(
        DefaultMediaSourceFactory(
            DefaultDataSourceFactory(
                context,
                Util.getUserAgent(context, "YourAppName")
            )
        )
    )
    .build()

val mediaItem = MediaItem.Builder()
    .setUri(mediaUri)
    .build()

exoPlayer.setMediaItem(mediaItem)
exoPlayer.prepare()
exoPlayer.playWhenReady = true

4. Efficiently Capture and Record Media


When working with the camera or audio recording, optimizing media capture is crucial. Consider the following best practices:

4.1 Camera2 API


Use the Camera2 API for advanced camera functionalities and greater control over camera parameters. It offers features like manual exposure, focus control, RAW capture, and more.

// Example using Camera2 API
val cameraManager = getSystemService(Context.CAMERA_SERVICE) as CameraManager
val cameraId = cameraManager.cameraIdList[0]

val cameraStateCallback = object : CameraDevice.StateCallback() {
    override fun onOpened(camera: CameraDevice) {
        // Start camera preview or perform other operations
    }

    override fun onDisconnected(camera: CameraDevice) {
        // Handle camera disconnection
    }

    override fun onError(camera: CameraDevice, error: Int) {
        // Handle camera errors
    }
}

cameraManager.openCamera(cameraId, cameraStateCallback, null)


4.2 Image Compression


When capturing images, compress them to an optimal size to reduce memory usage and improve performance. Use the Bitmap.compress() method to compress images before storing or transmitting them.

// Example compressing captured image
val image = ... // Your captured image
val outputStream = FileOutputStream(outputFile)

image.compress(Bitmap.CompressFormat.JPEG, 80, outputStream)

outputStream.close()


4.3 MediaRecorder Settings


Configure MediaRecorder settings, such as audio source, video source, output format, and quality settings, based on your requirements. Experiment with different settings to find the optimal balance between quality and performance.

val mediaRecorder = MediaRecorder()

// Set audio source, video source, output format, etc.
mediaRecorder.setAudioSource(MediaRecorder.AudioSource.MIC)
mediaRecorder.setVideoSource(MediaRecorder.VideoSource.CAMERA)
mediaRecorder.setOutputFormat(MediaRecorder.OutputFormat.MPEG_4)
mediaRecorder.setAudioEncoder(MediaRecorder.AudioEncoder.AAC)
mediaRecorder.setVideoEncoder(MediaRecorder.VideoEncoder.H264)

// Configure other settings, e.g., output file path, bitrate, etc.// Start recording
mediaRecorder.prepare()
mediaRecorder.start()

// Stop recording and release resources when finished
mediaRecorder.stop()
mediaRecorder.release()


Conclusion


Efficiently utilizing Android Media APIs is crucial for delivering high-quality multimedia experiences to users. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this blog post and leveraging the provided code samples, you can optimize media playback, enhance video performance, and efficiently capture and record media using Android's Media APIs.


Stay updated with the latest Android documentation and libraries to leverage new features and improvements as they become available.


Happy coding!

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