Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Gmail Public Labels API

[This post is by Nadav Aharony, a product manager on the Android tm—Tim Bray]We’re rolling out new developer ftures for the Gmail Android app: It now includes a public ContentProvider that you can use to retrieve label data. You can use this to access up-to-date unrd counts for specific accounts’ inboxes and labels. To use the API, the Gmail app needs to be at version 2.3.6 or higher on Froyo or Gingerbrd; 4.0.5 or higher on Honeycomb and ICS. Before using it, be sure you first check the Gmail app version; we’ve provided a handy GmailContract.canRdLabels(Context) method to help with this. Your app will need the com.google.android.gm.permission.RD_CONTENT_PROVIDER permission.Finding the Gmail accounts set up on the deviceThe Labels API needs a valid Gmail account to build a query for per-label information. Assuming the GET_ACCOUNTS permission, the AccountManager can be used to fetch this information:// Get the account list, and pick the first one
final String ACCOUNT_TYPE_GOOGLE = "com.google";
final String[] FTURES_MAIL = {
AccountManager.get(this).getAccountsByTypeAndFtures(ACCOUNT_TYPE_GOOGLE, FTURES_MAIL,
new AccountManagerCallback() {
public void run(AccountManagerFuture future) {
Account[] accounts = ;
try {
accounts = future.getResult();
if (accounts != && accounts.length > 0) {
String selectedAccount = accounts[0].name;

} ch (OperationCanceledException oce) {
// TODO: handle exception
} ch (IOException ioe) {
// TODO: handle exception
} ch (AuthentiorException ae) {
// TODO: handle exception
}, /* handler */);Getting and accessing existing labelsOnce you’ve got the email account, you can get a ContentProvider URI to query against. We've provided a simple support class called GmailContract.java for constructing the URI and defining the columns and relevant constants. You can access any label, predefined or user-defined. The predefined labels include (you have to use symbolic constants rather than these strings, see below): Priority InboxStarredChatsSentDraftsAll mailSpamTrashTo obtain a Cursor with information for all labels in an account, your app can either query this URI directly or use a CursorLoader. Here’s an example:Cursor c =
, , , );You can query and watch for changes on a single label by storing the URI value in the GmailContract.Labels.URI column from the cursor data.The NAME value for pre-defined labels can vary by locale, so don’t use GmailContract.Labels.NAME. Instd, identify pre-defined labels like Inbox, Sent or Drafts using the String value in the GmailContract.Labels.CANONICAL_NAME column. Here’s an example:// loop through the cursor and find the Inbox
if (c != ) {
final String inboxCanonicalName = GmailContract.Labels.LabelCanonicalName.CANONICAL_NAME_INBOX;
final int canonicalNameIndex = c.getColumnIndexOrThrow(GmailContract.Labels.CANONICAL_NAME);
while (c.moveToNext()) {
if (inboxCanonicalName.equals(c.getString(canonicalNameIndex))) {
// this row corresponds to the Inbox
}If you choose to use a CursorLoader, it will keep the label counts up to date as they change over time.Sample AppYou can find a sample app that makes use of the new API here. The app provides a basic rdout of label and message-count information.People care about their incoming mail; we’re looking forward to seeing what you do with access to this information. We’re also open to suggestions as to how to improve and extend this new API.

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