For some apps that handle web content, like AndroBlip, it’s better to view (the equivalent of) certain pages in that app, then in the browser. A good example is youtube: at time of writing you cannot view youtube movies in the browser, but you can in the youtube app. When you click on a youtube link you get the “complete action using” dialog (right).

Luckily, this isn’t very hard to do.

Add an intent to your manifest

You simply have to tell the system you want to catch some urls and use your activity to open them. A couple of minor points you might want to consider, but it looks like this:

<activity android:name=".YourActivity">
		<action android:name="android.intent.action.VIEW"></action>
		<category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT"></category>
		<category android:name="android.intent.category.BROWSABLE"></category>
		<data android:scheme="http" android:host="" ></data>

And now you are showing the chooser dialog for all the links to “”. The small print is here:

  • You’re filtering, but not or any https requests. Add a seperate data item for those!
  • You might want to filter a subset of urls. Use pathPrefix or pathPattern for that situation. Check out the google android resources for more info on that.

Get your URL in you Activity

Now we’ve caught that URL and opened the activity, all you need to do is grab it from the intent. You can do a lot of complicated stuff, but I reckon this suffices:

String data = getIntent().getDataString();

Simple, eh? You can do all sorts of other things as you can see in the reference guide but this serves as a simple example; this little mock-up filters a variable from the query string a user might find in the URL:

String data = getIntent().getDataString();
Pattern pat = Pattern.compile("id=([0-9]*)");
Matcher mat = pat.matcher(data);
if (mat.find()){
	Log.d("yourTag", "group1";

You can now start to do something with the ID you found.


You can try to add a fallback to your code and if you have no clue how to parse the received url (the pathPattern is a bit limited) just try and restart the browser. This is far from ideal, because the user will just get the same choice-screen, and has to figure out for him/herself that the browser should be chosen after several tries. Even worse, if a default is chosen, it might go completely wrong. But for anyone willing to play with this, you can just start an Intent to view a URL like this:

startActivity(new Intent(Intent.ACTION_VIEW, Uri.parse(url)));

2 comments on Opening URLs with your application

  1. Jay Shepherd says:

    Thanks for the well explained tutorial. However im having problems getting this to work on the MAIN/Launcher activity. Do you know how i can go about that?

  2. ennaN says:

    What problem are you getting exactly? An error, or something else?

    I don’t know of any real problems, but as the MAIN activity is mostly also run separately, you might need a way to differentiate between a ‘normal’ call and a call-by-url?