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Audio Playback Capture in Android X

Learn how to integrate the Android Playback Capture API into your app, allowing you to record and play back audio from other apps.

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  • Kotlin 1.3, Android 10.0, Android Studio 4.0

Google first introduced the Android Playback Capture API in Android 10. It allows you to capture audio from other apps, similar to screen captures or screen recording.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how the Audio Playback Capture API works and how to use its main features. You’ll do this by integrating it into a Cat Sounds app. This app captures cat sounds on YouTube.

In the process you’ll learn how to:

  • Configure an app for Audio Playback Capture.
  • Request permission from the user to capture audio.
  • Find the captured content in your app’s files.
  • List the captured contents and play them back.
Note: This tutorial assumes that you’re familiar with the basics of Android development and Android Studio. If this is new to you, first read through the Beginning Android Development tutorial.

Furthermore, Audio Recording doesn’t work on emulators, so please build this tutorial on a device.

Getting Started

Download the starter project by clicking the Download Materials button at the top or bottom of the tutorial. Then, open the starter project in Android Studio 4.0 or later.

You’ll find the starter project provides the interface and some logic for the Cat Sounds app already.

Build and run. You’ll see the Cat Sounds home screen with buttons to capture and stop capturing audio which, currently, does nothing. You’ll also see a tab bar at the bottom with access to a list of audio clips. This is currently just a group of mock items, but by the end of the tutorial, you’ll find your saved audio clips there.

Here’s how the Cat Sounds app looks at the moment:

Cat Sounds home screen showing a cat in a box and options to record cat sounds

What Is Audio Playback Capture API?

Suppose you want to capture some audio from an app you’re using on your smartphone. Before, the only option was to do a full-screen recording to capture the audio. But with the Audio Playback Capture API, an app can capture audio without needing to record video.

This API is useful for use cases such as live audio translation or recording and re-transmitting audio from games or apps, without having to store the data first.

Let’s get started.

Managing Permissions for Audio Capture

When you introduce a new API, you need to make changes to your project to make it work.

As you’ll be using Android Playback Capture to record data that could be sensitive, you need to ask for permission from the user first.

Requesting Permissions

Open AndroidManifest.XML. Inside, you’ll find a TODO item indicating where to add code to request permissions. Replace that with the following lines of code:

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.RECORD_AUDIO"/>
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.FOREGROUND_SERVICE" />
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE"/>
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE"/>

Those permissions are for (in order from top to bottom):

  1. Recording audio.
  2. Using the audio capture as a foreground service.
  3. Writing audio files to the phone’s memory.
  4. Reading audio files from the phone’s memory.
Note: When building your own app, you might not need all these permissions.

Checking for Permissions in Your Activity

You also have to ask for these permissions in Activities and Fragments.

Open MainActivity.kt and locate the TODO that asks you to check for permissions, then add the following code:

// 1
if (ContextCompat.checkSelfPermission(this, Manifest.permission.RECORD_AUDIO) != PackageManager.PERMISSION_GRANTED && 
ContextCompat.checkSelfPermission(this, Manifest.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE) != PackageManager.PERMISSION_GRANTED &&
ContextCompat.checkSelfPermission(this, Manifest.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE) != PackageManager.PERMISSION_GRANTED) {

  // 2
  val permissions = arrayOf(Manifest.permission.RECORD_AUDIO, Manifest.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE, 

  ActivityCompat.requestPermissions(this, permissions,0)


Let’s break the above code into three parts:

  1. This if checks if the user gave permissions for recording audio and writing and reading the data.
  2. If the user hasn’t granted the permissions, you add them to an array, to request them after.
  3. Once you have the array of permissions, you give it to a built-in function from Android Activity called requestPermissions. This automatically creates an alert with options for the user to grant them.

Now, you might see some warnings due to missing imports. At the top of the file, add:

import androidx.core.content.ContextCompat
import android.Manifest

Now, all the errors should be gone and you can run the app with the changes you made.

Build and run; the app will display two permission dialogs. The first is for recording:

User Permission to record audio

The second asks for permission to access the device’s storage:

User permission to access photos

Changing Permissions

Sometimes, you want to test your permissions and see what happens if you deny them. To revert or change your response, go to Settings ▸ Apps and Notifications ▸ CatAudio ▸ App Permissions.

App permission screen for CatAudio

Click Microphone and you’ll see the same three options you got in the alert. You can now pick a different option.

Recording Audio From Other Apps

Now that you’ve set up the permissions, you can get back to your original purpose: capturing audio playback!

You’ll start by adding functionality to the buttons on the app’s home screen.

Open RecordFragment.kt and locate the TODO prompting you to add OnClickListeners inside of onActivityCreated. Add the following code:

button_start_recording.setOnClickListener {

button_stop_recording.setOnClickListener {

The code above tells the app what the buttons should do when you click on them.

After adding that code, you’ll see some errors. That’s because you’re calling functions that don’t exist yet. You’ll add them next.

Find the TODO prompting you to add those methods and add the following code:

private fun startCapturing() {
  Toast.makeText(this.context, "start recording", Toast.LENGTH_LONG).show()

private fun stopCapturing() {
  Toast.makeText(this.context, "stop recording", Toast.LENGTH_LONG).show()

Currently, these two functions will only show a toast. A toast is an Android item that shows text over the screen for a couple of seconds and then disappears.

In case you have an import error add the following at the top of the file:

import android.widget.Toast

With those changes, you now know when the user taps the buttons.

Build and run, the screen should now look like the following.

Record Cat Sounds screen with the Start Recording toast

Note: If you don’t see the toast, you probably denied the permissions. Double-check that you granted permissions in the App Settings screen.

Great work! Next, you need to prompt the user for permissions one final time.

Requesting Permission Before a Capturing Session

Your next task is to request this additional permission with a prompt that displays every time the user clicks the Start Audio Capture button.

In RecordFragment.kt, you’ll find another TODO at the top to create a variable. Add this code below the class declaration to do so:

private lateinit var mediaProjectionManager: MediaProjectionManager 

Then, below the two functions you created for the listeners, create a new function:

private fun startMediaProjectionRequest() {
  // 1
  mediaProjectionManager = requireContext().getSystemService(Context.MEDIA_PROJECTION_SERVICE) as MediaProjectionManager

  // 2
  startActivityForResult(mediaProjectionManager.createScreenCaptureIntent(), MEDIA_PROJECTION_REQUEST_CODE)


The code above is a standard function to request this permission. Here’s what it does:

  1. It initializes the Media Projection Manager, which is an Android Service with all the necessary logic to capture audio.
  2. startActivityForResult is an Android method that executes when you want to get a callback after executing another activity. In this case, you execute it after the permission result.

Next, create a companion object with the MEDIA_PROJECTION_REQUEST_CODE code:

companion object {
  private const val MEDIA_PROJECTION_REQUEST_CODE = 13

You placed that variable in a companion object because they won’t change at any moment.

Finally, replace Toast in startCapturing() with the following:

if (!isRecordAudioPermissionGranted()) {
} else {

The code above checks for audio record permissions. If the user authorized them, you start the audio capture.

Note: At this point, you may wonder why you’re asking for permissions again if you already had them for the MainActivity. In the latest versions of Android, the OS is much stricter with permissions and personal data, so every time you use a service that requires permissions, it’s necessary to check again.

Next, you’ll make sure that your app has the necessary permissions before proceeding. You will soon understand all the pieces you just put together. For now, go ahead and check the permissions:

Checking Permissions

You don’t have the functions for checking permissions yet, so add them below startCapturing().

private fun isRecordAudioPermissionGranted(): Boolean {
  return ContextCompat.checkSelfPermission(
  ) == PackageManager.PERMISSION_GRANTED

private fun requestRecordAudioPermission() {

override fun onRequestPermissionsResult(
      requestCode: Int,
      permissions: Array<out String>,
      grantResults: IntArray
) {
    if (grantResults.firstOrNull() == PackageManager.PERMISSION_GRANTED) {
          "Permissions to capture audio granted.",
    } else {
          requireContext(), "Permissions to capture audio denied.",

After adding those functions to the fragment, you’ll get some missing import errors. Resolve these by adding:

import android.Manifest
import android.content.Context
import androidx.core.content.ContextCompat

Finally, you’ll get an error on RECORD_AUDIO_PERMISSION_REQUEST_CODE, which tells you that you don’t have a variable or constant with that name. Go to your companion object at the bottom of the class and add the constant:


Build and run. Now, click the START AUDIO CAPTURE button and you’ll see a permission prompt:

Permission prompt starting with: Start recording or casting with Cat Sounds?

Click START NOW now, and nothing happens. That’s because you need to override onActivityResult. You’ll do that next.

Overriding onActivityResult

As mentioned above, once this alert appears, an activity result will return. onActivityResult() is a method that’s part of your fragment, but you need to override it to start the cast once the user gives permission.

To do this, add the following code after startMediaProjectionRequest():

override fun onActivityResult(requestCode: Int, resultCode: Int, data: Intent?) {

  // 1

    // 2
    if (resultCode == Activity.RESULT_OK) {

      // 3
      "MediaProjection permission obtained. Foreground service will start to capture audio.",


  } else {

    // 4
    requireContext(), "Request to get MediaProjection denied.",

This may look like a big function, but don’t worry. It’s just a series of validations that check whether the user started or canceled the cast. Look at it in greater detail:

  1. First, you check whether the app requested the correct permission, which is the one you added in your companion object.
  2. Next, you check if the result was OK, meaning the user clicked on the START NOW button.
  3. If they clicked the START NOW button, you’ll show a toast saying the cast will start.
  4. Otherwise, you show another toast saying the user denied the permission.

if you get an onActivity Result Overrides nothing error, make sure that you imported Intent and Activity properly by adding the code below to imports:

import android.content.Intent

Permissions are a major part of using such APIs. Now that you have taken care of that, you are going to implement the Audio Capture API itself.

Creating MediaCaptureService

In the following section, you’ll create an Android Service that takes care of the Audio Capture.

You don’t need to know what an Android Service is for this tutorial, but if you’re curious, take a look at the Android Services tutorial.

In the Android View of the project, go to This file, and the code that you’ll add next, will be the same for almost any project you create. Some code has been pre-populated because the service is a really long class.

Starting the Service and Getting Notifications

Inside the service’s onCreate, you’ll find a TODO to start the service and notifications. Add the code below to it:

// 1

// 2
startForeground(SERVICE_ID, NotificationCompat.Builder(this, NOTIFICATION_CHANNEL_ID).build())

// 3
mediaProjectionManager = applicationContext.getSystemService(Context.MEDIA_PROJECTION_SERVICE) as MediaProjectionManager

Here’s a breakdown of the code to understand what’s going on:

  1. First you create a notification channel. This is one of the prepopulated functions. If you don’t know what a notification channel is, you can learn more about it in this Notifications Tutorial.
  2. Then you start the service in the foreground. Starting audio capturing in the background may cause trouble if Android kills your app.
  3. Finally, you get the media projection service that the system provides, which will help capture the audio.

After adding that function, you may, again, see a couple of errors due to missing imports. Add the following to the top of the file:

import android.content.Context

Build and run. You’ll now see toasts, one for when you click START NOW in the dialog that asks you whether you want to start the casting.

Start Audio Capture Toast

And the other if you choose to stop the audio capture.

Stop Audio Capture Toast

Triggering the Audio Capture Playback

When you start a service, it executes onStartCommand. In this case, you need to override that method to provide what to do when the service starts.

Replace the return statement inside onStartCommand with:

// 1
return if (intent != null) {
  when (intent.action) {

      // 2
      mediaProjection = mediaProjectionManager.getMediaProjection(Activity.RESULT_OK, intent.getParcelableExtra(EXTRA_RESULT_DATA)!!) as MediaProjection

      // 3

      // 4

    // 5
    ACTION_STOP -> {

      // 6

    // 7
    else -> throw IllegalArgumentException("Unexpected action received: ${intent.action}")
} else {

  // 8

Now, break down the code above:

  1. The service checks whether it received an intent to start action.
  2. You initialize mediaProjection to store the information from the audio capture.
  3. You call the method that will do the audio capture.
  4. This is the item you need to return from onStartCommand, which means the service will stay running until something triggers the stop command.
  5. When you trigger onStartCommand with the stop action, you execute the stop capture method.
  6. Then you start the service, but this time, with the non-sticky statement because the service doesn’t need to keep running.
  7. If the action is neither start nor stop, you throw an exception because that’s not expected.
  8. Finally, if there is no intent, you also start the service with the non-sticky flag, so it will stop after onStartCommand finishes.

When you build and run the app at this point, you’ll see no change. That’s because even though you created the service, record fragment isn’t using it yet.

You have two more functions to implement in your service before it works correctly.

Starting the Playback Audio Capture

The first thing you’ll implement in this section is startAudioCapture. Locate it just below onStartCommandand add:

// 1
val config = AudioPlaybackCaptureConfiguration.Builder(mediaProjection!!)

// 2
val audioFormat = AudioFormat.Builder()

// 3
audioRecord = AudioRecord.Builder()


// 4
audioCaptureThread = thread(start = true) {
  val outputFile = createAudioFile()
  Log.d(LOG_TAG, "Created file for capture target: ${outputFile.absolutePath}")

Again, this is a large function. Here’s what you’re doing with it:

  1. You create a constant that handles the audio capture configuration. The three options available for the Usage type are: USAGE_GAME, USAGE_MEDIA and USAGE_UNKNOWN.
  2. Then you set the values for the recording. The ones in this code are standard, but you may want to modify them.
  3. Here, you set the previous two values into the audio record builder so it can start recording.
  4. Finally, the output of the recording goes through to two of the functions you already have in the service. One creates an audio file, while the other writes it to the phone memory.

If you want to know more about the usage attributes, here’s a brief description of each:

  • USAGE_MEDIA: For media like music or movie soundtracks.
  • USAGE_GAME: For game audio.
  • USAGE_UNKNOWN: Use when you don’t know what type of audio you’ll record.

The function you just created also requires some imports:

import kotlin.concurrent.thread

Build and run to verify everything runs correctly. Click the START AUDIO CAPTURE and STOP AUDIO CAPTURE buttons and you’ll still see the toasts. That’s because the service isn’t attached to RecordingFragment yet.

Stopping the Audio Capture

Great! You can now start the recording and save it to a file in the device. But you still need to be able to stop it — otherwise, it will keep going forever.

To implement this feature, add this code to stopAudioCapture:

// 1
requireNotNull(mediaProjection) { "Tried to stop audio capture, but there was no ongoing capture in place!" }

// 2

// 3
audioRecord = null

// 4

To stop the audio capture, you need to handle several things. As with the previous functions, here’s a breakdown of the issue to understand it:

  1. You need to ensure an audio capture is really taking place.
  2. Next, you interrupt the audio capture thread. The join is just a method that waits until the thread is fully stopped.
  3. You stop the audio record and release the memory manually.
  4. Finally, you stop the media projection and the service itself.

Great, now your service is finally complete! However, you still have to connect the service to the fragment.

Connecting the Service

Now that your service is complete, you need to connect it to the UI.

Locate onActivityResult in RecordFragment.kt and add the code below inside if (resultCode == Activity.RESULT_OK):

val audioCaptureIntent = Intent(requireContext(), {
  action = MediaCaptureService.ACTION_START
  putExtra(MediaCaptureService.EXTRA_RESULT_DATA, data!!)

ContextCompat.startForegroundService(requireContext(), audioCaptureIntent)

setButtonsEnabled(isCapturingAudio = true)

Then, in stopCapturing, you’ll also need to call the stop method:

ContextCompat.startForegroundService(requireContext(), Intent(requireContext(), {
  action = MediaCaptureService.ACTION_STOP

setButtonsEnabled(isCapturingAudio = false)

You used setButtonsEnabled in both the start and stop methods above. This method will enable and disable the play buttons.

Next, implement this method:

private fun setButtonsEnabled(isCapturingAudio: Boolean) {
  button_start_recording.isEnabled = !isCapturingAudio
  button_stop_recording.isEnabled = isCapturingAudio

Android Studio will also ask you to import the service. Add it at the top of the file:


Build and run and… the app still doesn’t work. For now, just verify your app is running and works as it did before. The only notable difference now is that one of the buttons is disabled whenever the other is enabled.

Record Cat Sounds screen with a toast displayed

One more thing, services have to be declared in the Manifest just like activities. You’ll do that next:

Adding Your Service to the Android Manifest

Open AndroidManifest.xml and, inside the application tags, add:

  tools:targetApi="q" />

Build and run. It’s finally working! You’ll notice a red icon in the top-right corner of the phone, close to where you find the clock. This icon indicates that casting is taking place.

Audio Recording in progress

Now, go to another app and capture Cat Sounds!

Disabling Audio Playback Capture

Something important to consider is that some apps disable Audio Playback Capture. Apps that target Android 28 need to manually opt-in for audio capture for your app to use it.

If you have an app with content that you don’t want others to record, you can use two methods to restrict it:

  1. Add the following code to AndroidManifest.xml: android:allowAudioPlaybackCapture="false".
  2. If you have specific audio you don’t want other apps to capture, set its capture policy to AudioManager.setAllowedCapturePolicy(ALLOW_CAPTURE_BY_SYSTEM) before playing it.

Listening to Recorded Audio

Great! Now that your app captures playback audio, the only step you’re missing is being able to listen to the audio content you saved.

You’ll do this in the other tab at the bottom of the app, List of Audios.

Getting the Files From Memory

You need to get the captured files from your device’s memory.

Open RecordingListFragment.kt located in Next, locate a TODO prompting you to create a function for this and add:

 private fun createItems() {
    // 1
    val files = File(context?.getExternalFilesDir(null), "/AudioCaptures")

    if (files.listFiles() != null) {
      val file : Array<File> = files.listFiles()!!

      // 2
      for (i in file.indices) {
        items.add(Pair(file[i], i))
    } else {
      Log.d("Files", "No files")

Now, review what the code above does:

  1. First, you retrieve the directory where the files are.
  2. Then you add them to an array called items.

You also need to add a call in resetUI. Look for the TODO indicating where you should add:


The items array doesn’t exist yet. You’ll find a TODO indicating where to do it. Add this:

private var items: MutableList<Pair<File, Int>> = ArrayList()

Lastly, you need to display the items in your recycler view. Locate the last TODO item inside onCreateView and add a call to createItems:


Just below the code you just added, substitute DummyContent.ITEMS for your items variable.

Now that you’ve made this change, you’ll get an error in the adapter.

To fix this, open MyItemRecyclerViewAdapter and change values‘ type from List of DummyItems to List of File. The code should look like this:

 private val values: List<Pair<File, Int>>)

Add the following import as well:


Now, onBindViewHolder is complaining because the properties in the files are different than they were with the dummy items. Fix this by replacing the two lines with an error inside onBindViewHolder with:

holder.idView.text = (position + 1).toString()
holder.contentView.text =

With that, the errors in RecordListFragment should be gone.

Build and run. Go to the List of Audios tab and you’ll see your audios:

List of recorded audio clips

Finally, you need to change the UI to actually play your recordings.

Listening to Your Files

Each of the recorded files has a Play button, but nothing happens when you tap them. You’ll get the buttons working soon.

Go to MyItemRecyclerViewAdapter and add a listener in the constructor. See code below:

class MyItemRecyclerViewAdapter(private val values: List<Pair<File, Int>>, private val listener: (Pair<File, Int>) -> Unit)
  : RecyclerView.Adapter<MyItemRecyclerViewAdapter.ViewHolder>() {

Now, in ViewHolder, below where you have the TextView declaration, add a reference to the button:

val button : ImageButton = view.findViewById(

With this line of code, the holder knows there’s a button on each row and will hold a reference to each one.

Android Studio might show an error because you haven’t imported ImageButton, add the import at the top:

import android.widget.ImageButton

Finally, in onBindViewHolder(), add onClickListener at the bottom of the function:

holder.button.isEnabled = true
holder.button.colorFilter = null
isPlaying = false
holder.button.setOnClickListener {
  if (!isPlaying) {
    isPlaying = true
    if (item.second == position) {
      holder.button.colorFilter = PorterDuffColorFilter(holder.itemView.resources.getColor(R.color.colorPrimaryDark), PorterDuff.Mode.SRC_ATOP)
      holder.button.isEnabled = true

This listener references the one you added in the class declaration. Now the line of code where you initialized the adapter is showing an error because you aren’t passing listener as a parameter.

For the above code to work, you need to import PorterDuffColorFilter:


Additionally, you need to add isPlaying as an instance of the class. Below the class, add:

private var isPlaying = false

Go to onCreateView in RecordingListFragment.kt and you’ll see an error because of the above mentioned listener. Change the adapter declaration to the code below:

adapter = MyItemRecyclerViewAdapter(items) {
  if (!isPlaying) {
viewAdapter = adapter as MyItemRecyclerViewAdapter

playSound and its helper classes have already been provided, so with these changes, you’ll be able to play the sound.

Go ahead and try it!

Note: This API won’t record external sound through the device’s microphone. You need to run an app that has audio in it. For example, play a video in the YouTube app and let the app capture the audio.

Keep in mind that capturing copyrighted material from YouTube or other sources might violate copyright laws. Be sure to only capture copyright-free material or material you have permission to store.

Congratulations! You’ve now made an app that uses the Audio Playback Capture API to capture audio and play it back on demand.

Where to Go From Here?

You can download the final project by using the Download Materials button at the top or bottom of this tutorial.

In this Audio Playback Capture API tutorial you learned how to:

  • Configure your app to use the Audio Playback Capture API.
  • Request all the necessary permissions to start an audio capture.
  • Create a service and tie it to your app so it does the capturing work for you.

This project is only the beginning of your journey with the Audio Playback Capture API. If you want to learn more about media capturing, check out our tutorial Media Playback on Android with ExoPlayer.

If you have any suggestions, questions, or if you want to show the cool things you added to this project, join the discussion below.

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