Android Context Cheat Sheet

I read an article about Android Context written by Dave Smith and I found that this table (cheat sheet) is very useful, So I decided to copy it here to my blog to save it and make sure that I won't lose it even if the original link expired.

The common actions you can safely take with a given Context object depends on where it came from originally.  Below is a table of the common places an application will receive a Context, and in each case what it is useful for:

Application Activity Service ContentProvider BroadcastReceiver
Show a Dialog NO YES NO NO NO
Start an Activity NO1 YES NO1 NO1 NO1
Layout Inflation NO2 YES NO2 NO2 NO2
Start a Service YES YES YES YES YES
Bind to a Service YES YES YES YES NO
Send a Broadcast YES YES YES YES YES
Register BroadcastReceiver YES YES YES YES NO3
Load Resource Values YES YES YES YES YES

  1. An application CAN start an Activity from here, but it requires that a new task be created.  This may fit specific use cases, but can create non-standard back stack behaviors in your application and is generally not recommended or considered good practice.

  2. This is legal, but inflation will be done with the default theme for the system on which you are running, not what’s defined in your application.

  3. Allowed if the receiver is null, which is used for obtaining the current value of a sticky broadcast, on Android 4.2 and above.