Android Tutorial - Android ContentProviders

Android uses content providers for abstracting data into services.

Content providers play a significant role in sharing data between applications.

Content providers makes data sources look like REST-enabled data providers, such as web sites.

To retrieve data from a content provider or save data into a content provider, you will need to use a set of REST-like URIs.


For example, if you were to retrieve a set of books from a content provider that is an encapsulation of a book database, you would need to use a URI like this:


To retrieve a specific book from the book database, you would need to use a URI like this:


Any application on the device can make use of these URIs to access and manipulate data.

Architecture of Content Providers

Each content provider on a device registers itself like a web site with a string called an authority.

The authority string forms the basis of a set of URIs that this content provider can offer.

This authority registration is defined in the AndroidManifest.xml file.

Here are two examples of how you can register providers in AndroidManifest.xml:

<provider android:name="SomeProvider"
          android:authorities="com.your-company.SomeProvider" />

<provider android:name="NotePadProvider"

An authority is like a domain name for that content provider.

A content provider, like a web site, has a base domain name that acts as a starting URL.

Given the preceding authority registration, these providers will take URLs starting with that authority prefix:


The providers offered by Android may not have a fully qualified authority name.

For example, contacts as opposed to

Content-provider vs Others

Content-provider abstraction is required only if you want to share data externally or between applications.

For internal data access, an application can use the following:

  • Preferences: A set of key/value pairs that you can persist to store application preferences
  • Files: Files internal to applications
  • SQLite: SQLite databases
  • Network : retrieve or store data externally through the Internet via HTTP services