#android #ndk #apk

build ndk-build

Utilities for building Android binaries

16 releases (8 breaking)

0.9.0 Nov 23, 2022
0.8.0 Sep 12, 2022
0.7.0 Jul 5, 2022
0.4.3 Nov 22, 2021
0.1.1 Jul 15, 2020

#25 in Build Utils

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Rust on Android

Rust MIT license APACHE2 license MSRV

Libraries and tools for Rust programming on Android targets:

Name Description Badges
ndk-sys Raw FFI bindings to the NDK crates.io crates.io
ndk Safe abstraction of the bindings crates.io crates.io
ndk-context Android handles crates.io
ndk-glue Startup code crates.io crates.io
ndk-build Everything for building apk's crates.io crates.io
cargo-apk Build tool crates.io crates.io

See ndk-examples for examples using the NDK and the README files of the crates for more details.

Supported NDK versions

ndk and ndk-sys aim to support at least the LTS and Rolling Release branches of the NDK, as described on their wiki. Additionally the Beta Release might be supported to prepare for an upcoming release.

As of writing (2022-10-10) the following NDKs are tested:

Branch Version Status Working
r18 18.1.5063045 Deprecated
r19 19.2.5345600 Deprecated ✔️
r20 20.1.5948944 Deprecated ✔️
r21 21.4.7075529 Deprecated ✔️
r22 22.1.7171670 Deprecated ✔️
r23 23.1.7779620 Deprecated ✔️
r24 24.0.8215888 Deprecated ✔️
r25 25.1.8937393 LTS ✔️

Quick start: Hello World crate on Android

Quick start setting up a new project with support for Android, using the ndk-glue layer for communicating with the Android framework through NativeActivity and cargo-apk for packaging a crate in an Android .apk file.

This short guide can also be used as a reference for converting existing crates to be runnable on Android.

1. Install the Android NDK and SDK

Make sure the Android NDK is installed, together with a target platform (30 by default), build-tools and platform-tools, using either the sdkmanager or Android Studio.

2. Create a new library crate

$ cargo new hello_world_android --lib

Never name your project android as this results in a target binary named libandroid.so which is also the name of Android's framework library: this will fail to link.

3. Configure crate for use on Android

Add the ndk-glue dependency to your crate.


# This dependency will only be included when targeting Android
[target.'cfg(target_os = "android")'.dependencies]
ndk-glue = "xxx" # Substitute this with the latest ndk-glue version you wish to use

Then configure the library target to be compiled to a Rust lib (for use in an executable on desktop) and a cdylib to create a native binary that can be bundled in the final .apk and loaded by Android.


crate-type = ["lib", "cdylib"]

4. Wrap entry point with ndk-glue

Create a main function holding your code in the library portion of the crate, and wrap it in the ndk_glue::main attribute macro when targeting Android.


#[cfg_attr(target_os = "android", ndk_glue::main(backtrace = "on"))]
pub fn main() {
    println!("Hello World");

See the ndk-macro documentation for more options.

Additionally, to make this crate runnable outside of Android, create a binary that calls the main function in the library.


fn main() {

As a sanity check, run this binary to make sure everything is set up correctly:

$ cargo run

5. Run the crate on your Android device

Install cargo apk for building, running and debugging your application:

$ cargo install cargo-apk

We can now directly execute our Hello World application on a real connected device or an emulator:

$ cargo apk run

If the crate includes a runnable binary as suggested above, you will likely be greeted by the following error:

$ cargo apk run
error: extra arguments to `rustc` can only be passed to one target, consider filtering
the package by passing, e.g., `--lib` or `--bin NAME` to specify a single target
Error: Command `cargo rustc --target aarch64-linux-android -- -L hello_world_android/target/cargo-apk-temp-extra-link-libraries` had a non-zero exit code.

To solve this, add --lib to the run invocation, like so:

$ cargo apk run --lib

6. Inspect the output

ndk-glue redirects stdout and stderr to Android logcat, including the println!("Hello World") by the example above. See Logging and stdout below how to access it.

Rendering to the window

Android native apps have no easy access to Android's User Interface functionality (bar JNI interop). Applications can instead draw pixels directly to the window using ANativeWindow_lock, or use a graphics API like OpenGL or Vulkan for high performance rendering.

Logging and stdout

Stdout is redirected to the android log api when using ndk-glue. Any logger that logs to stdout, like println!, should therefore work.

To filter on this output in logcat:

$ adb logcat RustStdoutStderr:D *:S

Android logger

Enable the "logger" feature on the ndk-glue macro and configure its log tag and debug level through the attribute macro:


#[cfg_attr(target_os = "android", ndk_glue::main(logger(level = "debug", tag = "my-tag")))]
pub fn main() {
    log!("hello world");

App/APK configuration

Android APKs contain a file called AndroidManifest.xml, which has things like permission requests and feature declarations, plus configuration of activities, intents, resource folders and more. This file is autogenerated by cargo-apk. To control what goes in it through Cargo.toml, refer to cargo-apk's README.

Overriding crate paths

The macro ndk_glue::main tries to determine crate names from current Cargo.toml. You can override this names with specific paths like so:

  ndk_glue = "path::to::ndk_glue",
fn main() {}


Java Native Interface (JNI) allows executing Java code in a VM from native applications. To access the JNI use the AndroidContext from the ndk-context crate. ndk-examples contains a jni_audio example which will print out all output audio devices in the log.

  • jni, JNI bindings for Rust


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