Write applications in C or C++ for Android?

The Question :

288 people think this question is useful

I’m trying to develop/port a game to Android, but it’s in C, and Android supports Java, but I’m sure there must be a way to get a C app on there, anyone knows of a way to accomplish this?

The Question Comments :
  • only if you jailbreak the phone AFAIK.
  • Isn’t jailbraking for iPhones?
  • The G1 doesn’t allow root access by default, and there are a lot of restrictions in place regarding what can be executed outside of the ‘Android’ environment. I wouldn’t have much hope finding a way to execute native code from within Android.
  • but I’ve downloaded DOOM for Android from the marketplace. So it should be doable
  • DOOM for Android is written in Java code.google.com/p/doom-for-android/source/browse/#svn/trunk

The Answer 1

248 people think this answer is useful

For anyone coming to this via Google, note that starting from SDK 1.6 Android now has an official native SDK.

You can download the Android NDK (Native Development Kit) from here: https://developer.android.com/ndk/downloads/index.html

Also there is an blog post about the NDK:

The Answer 2

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The Android NDK is a toolset that lets you implement parts of your app in native code, using languages such as C and C++. For certain types of apps, this can help you reuse code libraries written in those languages.

For more info on how to get started with native development, follow this link.

Sample applications can be found here.

The Answer 3

19 people think this answer is useful

Normally, you have to:

  1. Install Google Android NDK. It contains libs, headers, makfile examples and gcc toolchain
  2. Build an executable from your C code for ARM, optimize and link it with provided libs if required
  3. Connect to a phone using provided adb interface and test your executable

If you are looking to sell an app:

  1. Build a library from your C code
  2. Create simple Java code which will use this library
  3. Embed this library into application package file
  4. Test your app
  5. Sell it or distribute it for free

The Answer 4

14 people think this answer is useful

Google has released a Native Development Kit (NDK) (according to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5whfaLH1-E at 00:07:30).

Hopefully the information will be updated on the google groups page (http://groups.google.com/group/android-ndk), as it says it hasn’t been released yet.

I’m not sure where to get a simple download for it, but I’ve heard that you can get a copy of the NDK from Google’s Git repository under the donut branch.

The Answer 5

12 people think this answer is useful

The official position seems to be that this isn’t something you’d ever “want to do”. See this thread on the Android Developers list. Google envisage android running on a variety of different devices (CPUs, displays, etc). The best way to enable development is therefore to use (portable) managed code that targets the Dalvik VM. For this reason, the Android SDK doesn’t support C/C++.

BUT, take a look at this page:

Android includes a set of C/C++ libraries used by various components of the Android system. These capabilities are exposed to developers through the Android application framework.

The managed application framework appears to be layered on-top of these libraries. The page goes on to list the C/C++ libs: standard C library, media, 3D, SQL lite, and others.

So all you need is a compiler chain that will compile C/C++ to the appropriate CPU (ARM, in the case of the G1). Some brief instructions on how to do this are here.

What I don’t know is where to find descriptions of the APIs that these libraries provide. I’d guess there may be header files buried in the SDK somewhere, but documentation may be sketchy/missing. But I think it can be done!

Hope thats useful. For the record, I haven’t written any native android apps – just a few simple managed ones.


The Answer 6

8 people think this answer is useful

You can use nestedvm to translate C (or other GCC languages) into Java bytecode, and use that as the basis of your port. For example, see the Android port of Simon Tathams portable puzzle collection.

I expect this method is made obsolete by the NDK, but it might not be in if some networks or something don’t allow people to upgrade their phones.

The Answer 7

8 people think this answer is useful

Google has already launched Google I/O 2011: Bringing C and C++ Games to Android session which is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yorhsSPFG4

which is good to understand the use of NDK for writing application in c and c++ for android.

If you just want to cross compile any console based native game and run them on android then this Article has shown 3 methods for the same.

1: Static compilation using standalone toolchain

2: Cross compilation using Android NDK’s toolchain

3: Cross compilation using AOSP source code

The Answer 8

7 people think this answer is useful

Maybe you are looking for this?


It is a middle layer for developing for several mobile platforms using c++.

The Answer 9

7 people think this answer is useful

Looking at this it seems it is possible:

“the fact is only Java language is supported doesn’t mean that you cannot develop applications in other languages. This have been proved by many developers, hackers and experts in application development for mobile. The guys at Elements Interactive B.V., the company behind Edgelib library, succeeded to run native C++ applications on the Android platform, even that at this time there is still many issues on display and sound … etc. This include the S-Tris2 game and a 3D animation demo of Edgelib.”

The Answer 10

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Since 2009 there is a development on this matter.
Necessitas – Qt(C++ framework) for Android
Getting started video.

The Answer 11

5 people think this answer is useful

Take a look at google ndk group it looks promising, first version of the NDK will be available in 1H2009.

Update: And it is released http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2009/06/introducing-android-15-ndk-release-1.html

The Answer 12

5 people think this answer is useful

I’m not sure the NDK provides full coverage of the official Java API.

From http://developer.android.com/sdk/ndk/index.html#overview :

Please note that the NDK does not enable you to develop native-only applications. Android’s primary runtime remains the Dalvik virtual machine.

The Answer 13

3 people think this answer is useful

Google just released the NDK which allows exactly that.


It can be found here: http://developer.android.com/sdk/ndk/1.5_r1/index.html

The Answer 14

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This blog post may be a good start: http://benno.id.au/blog/2007/11/13/android-native-apps Unfortunately, lots of the important stuff is “left as an exercise to the reader”.

The Answer 15

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I do not know a tutorial but a good development tool: Airplay SDK from Ideaworks Labs. (Recently rebranded “Marmelade“) Using C/C++ you can build apps for Windows Mobile, iPhones, Android. The only component I didn’t like was the GUI composer – a buggy one, but you always can substitute it with the Notepad.

The Answer 16

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You can download c4droid and then install the GCC plugin and install to your SD. From the shell I just traverse to the directory where the GCC binary is and then call it to make an on board executable.

find / -name gcc


cat > test.c

int main(){ 
 printf("hello arm!\n");
return 0;

./arm-linux-androideabi-gcc test.c -o test


hello arm!

The Answer 17

2 people think this answer is useful

This three steps are good to have and store in this post.

1) How to port native c code on android

2) http://www.integratingstuff.com/2010/12/12/calling-native-c-code-through-jni-in-android-applications/

3) http://mindtherobot.com/blog/452/android-beginners-ndk-setup-step-by-step/

The Answer 18

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Native C/c++ Files libstdc++.* from your Ubuntu are x86 (or x86_64) binaries but Android devices and emulators are ARM. Of course, this will not work anyway, even if you’ll set correct soname. This is very naive way which leads nowhere. Android has very limited support of C++ meaning there is no exceptions, standard C++ library (including STL) and RTTI. If you need such functionality, use my custom NDK distribution from

http://crystax.net/android/ndk.php – it support full C++ features listed above.

Why is there error: undefined reference to ‘__cxa_end_cleanup’ link error. Android stlport

time. Because there is no link to libstdc + +. A. So wrong.

Because it uses some static library, it is necessary to link the full libstdc + +. A. Can

http://crystax.net/android/ndk.php here to download the package

sources \ cxx-stl \ gnu-libstdc + + \ libs \ armeabi directory.

Android on its own libstdc + + support is limited, it must be linked to a complete libstdc + +. A the job.

Add file in Android.mk LOCAL_LDFLAGS = $ (LOCAL_PATH) / libs / libcurl.a \

 $ (LOCAL_PATH) / libs / liblua.a \
 `$ (LOCAL_PATH) / libs / libstdc + +. A`  

And LOCAL_CPPFLAGS + =-lstdc + +-fexceptions can be compiled

The Answer 19

1 people think this answer is useful

There is a plan to allow C/C++ libraries in the next SDK version of Android (Codename Eclair?)To date, it’s not possible through the Android Java SDK. However, you can grab the HUGE open source project, roll your own libraries, and then flash your own device…but anyone who wants to use your library will have to flash your custom build as well.

The Answer 20

-7 people think this answer is useful

Short answer: You can’t.

@Backslash17: Looking through the article and the following link with installation instructions, all the company got working is to launch a self compiled executable on the emulator, bypassing the android framework. Once you have the emulator you can telnet in and have a linux shell. Running a linux program there is trivial of course. But that’s not working for phones without jailbreak(aka root access) and not deliverable on the market.

Unless Google opens other opportunities or someone writes a custom compiler that compiles Language X into Dalvik bytecode (Dalvik is the VM that runs Android programs) you won’t be able to write native code.

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