Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Android’s HTTP Clients

Most network-connected Android apps will use HTTP to send and receive data. Android includes two HTTP clients: HttpURLConnection and Apache HTTP Client. Both support HTTPS, streaming uploads and downloads, configurable timeouts, IPv6 and connection pooling.
Apache HTTP Client

DefaultHttpClient and its sibling AndroidHttpClient are extensible HTTP clients suitable for web browsers. They have large and flexible APIs. Their implementation is stable and they have few bugs.

But the large size of this API makes it difficult for us to improve it without breaking compatibility. The Android team is not actively working on Apache HTTP Client.

HttpURLConnection is a general-purpose, lightweight HTTP client suitable for most applications. This class has humble beginnings, but its focused API has made it easy for us to improve steadily.

Prior to Froyo, HttpURLConnection had some frustrating bugs. In particular, calling close() on a readable InputStream could poison the connection pool. Work around this by disabling connection pooling:

private void disableConnectionReuseIfNecessary() {
    // HTTP connection reuse which was buggy pre-froyo
    if (Integer.parseInt(Build.VERSION.SDK) < Build.VERSION_CODES.FROYO) {
        System.setProperty("http.keepAlive", "false");

In Gingerbread, we added transparent response compression. HttpURLConnection will automatically add this header to outgoing requests, and handle the corresponding response:

Accept-Encoding: gzip

Take advantage of this by configuring your Web server to compress responses for clients that can support it. If response compression is problematic, the class documentation shows how to disable it.

Read more: Android developer
QR: androids-http-clients.html

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