Implementing Video Playback on Android using the VideoView and MediaController Classes

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One of the primary uses for smartphones and tablets is to enable the user to access and consume content. One key form of content widely used, especially in the case of tablet devices, is video.

The Android SDK includes two classes that make the implementation of video playback on Android devices extremely easy to implement when developing applications. This chapter will provide an overview of these two classes, VideoView and MediaController, before working through the creation of a simple video playback application.


Introducing the Android VideoView Class

By far the simplest way to display video within an Android application is to use the VideoView class. This is a visual component which, when added to the layout of an activity, provides a surface onto which a video may be played. Android currently supports the following video formats:

  • H.263
  • H.264 AVC
  • MPEG-4 SP
  • VP8

The VideoView class has a wide range of methods that may be called in order to manage the playback of video. Some of the more commonly used methods are as follows:

  • setVideoPath (String path) – Specifies the path (as a string) of the video media to be played. This can be either the URL of a remote video file or a video file local to the device.
  • setVideoUri (Uri uri) – Performs the same task as the setVideoPath() method but takes a Uri object as an argument instead of a string.
  • start() – Starts video playback.
  • stopPlayback() – Stops the video playback.
  • pause() – Pauses video playback.
  • isPlaying() – Returns a Boolean value indicating whether a video is currently playing.
  • setOnPreparedListener(MediaPlayer.OnPreparedListener) – Allows a callback method to be called when the video is ready to play.
  • setOnErrorListener(MediaPlayer.OnErrorListener) - Allows a callback method to be called when an error occurs during the video playback.
  • setOnCompletionListener(MediaPlayer.OnCompletionListener) - Allows a callback method to be called when the end of the video is reached.
  • getDuration() – Returns the duration of the video. Will typically return -1 unless called from within the OnPreparedListener() callback method.
  • getCurrentPosition() – Returns an integer value indicating the current position of playback.
  • setMediaController(MediaController) – Designates a MediaController instance allowing playback controls to be displayed to the user.

Introducing the Android MediaController Class

If a video is simply played using the VideoView class, the user will not be given any control over the playback, which will run until the end of the video is reached. This issue can be addressed by attaching an instance of the MediaController class to the VideoView instance. The MediaController will then provide a set of controls allowing the user to manage the playback (such as pausing and seeking backwards/forwards in the video timeline).

The position of the controls is designated by anchoring the controller instance to a specific view in the user interface layout. Once attached and anchored, the controls will appear briefly when playback starts and may subsequently be restored at any point by the user tapping on the view to which the instance is anchored.

Some of the key methods of this class are as follows:

  • setAnchorView(View view) – Designates the view to which the controller is to be anchored. This controls the location of the controls on the screen.
  • show() – Displays the controls.
  • show(int timeout) – Controls are displayed for the designated duration (in milliseconds).
  • hide() – Hides the controller from the user.
  • isShowing() – Returns a Boolean value indicating whether the controls are currently visible to the user.

Testing Video Playback

At the time of writing, it is not possible to test video playback when using the Android AVD emulators. To test the video playback functionality of an application it will be necessary to deploy it onto a physical device.

Creating the Video Playback Example

The remainder of this chapter is dedicated to working through an example application intended to use the VideoView and MediaController classes to play a web based MPEG-4 video file.

Start Eclipse and create a new Android Application project named VideoPlayer using the appropriate Android SDK versions and package name and including a blank activity named VideoPlayerActivity with corresponding layout and fragment files named activity_video_player and fragment_video_player.

Designing VideoPlayer Layout

The user interface for the main activity will simply consist of an instance of the VideoView class. If the Graphical Layout tool is not already displayed, use the Package Explorer panel to locate the res -> layout -> fragment_video_player.xml file and double click on it. Within the layout canvas, delete the “Hello world!” TextView. Switch to the XML view and remove the padding properties from the layout so that the XML reads as follows:

<RelativeLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    xmlns:tools="http://schemas.android.com/tools"
    android:layout_width="match_parent"
    android:layout_height="match_parent"
    tools:context="com.example.videoplayer.VideoPlayerActivity$PlaceholderFragment" >

</RelativeLayout>

Switch back to the Graphical Layout view and from the Images & Media section of the Palette panel, drag and drop a VideoView instance onto the center point of the layout so that the user interface resembles that of Figure 37-1:


An Android VideoView instance

Figure 37-1


Save the layout before proceeding.

Configuring the VideoView

The next step is to configure the VideoView with the path of the video to be played and then start the playback. This will be performed when the main activity has initialized, so select the VideoPlayerActivity.java file and override the OnStart() method as outlined in the following listing: package com.example.videoplayer;

package com.example.videoplayer;

import android.app.Activity; import android.app.ActionBar; import android.app.Fragment; import android.os.Bundle; import android.view.LayoutInflater; import android.view.Menu; import android.view.MenuItem; import android.view.View; import android.view.ViewGroup; import android.os.Build; import android.widget.VideoView; public class VideoPlayerActivity extends Activity {

@Override protected void onStart() {

super.onStart(); final VideoView videoView = (VideoView) findViewById(R.id.videoView1);

videoView.setVideoPath( "http://www.ebookfrenzy.com/android_book/movie.mp4");

videoView.start(); } . . . } All that this code does is obtain a reference to the VideoView instance in the layout, set the video path on it to point to an MPEG-4 file hosted on a web site and then start the video playing.

Adding Internet Permission

An attempt to run the application at this point would result in the application failing to launch with an error dialog appearing on the device that reads “Unable to Play Video. Sorry, this video cannot be played”. This is not because of an error in the code or an incorrect video file format. The issue would be that the application is attempting to access a file over the internet, but has failed to request appropriate permissions to do so. To resolve this, edit the AndroidManifest.xml file for the project and add a line to request internet access:

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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<manifest xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    package="com.example.videoplayer"
    android:versionCode="1"
    android:versionName="1.0" >

    <uses-sdk
        android:minSdkVersion="8"
        android:targetSdkVersion="19" />

    <uses-permission android:name="android.permission.INTERNET" />
    
    <application
        android:allowBackup="true"
        android:icon="@drawable/ic_launcher"
        android:label="@string/app_name"
        android:theme="@style/AppTheme" > 

Test the application by running it on a physical Android device. After the application launches there may be a short delay while video is buffered before the video begins to play.

This provides an indication of how easy it can be to integrate video playback into an Android application. Everything so far in this example has been achieved using a VideoView instance and three lines of code.

Adding the MediaController to the Video View

As the VideoPlayer application currently stands, there is no way for the user to control playback. As previously outlined, this can be achieved using the MediaController class. To add a controller to the VideoView, modify the onStart() method once again:

package com.example.videoplayer;

import android.app.Activity;
import android.app.ActionBar;
import android.app.Fragment;
import android.os.Bundle;
import android.view.LayoutInflater;
import android.view.Menu;
import android.view.MenuItem;
import android.view.View;
import android.view.ViewGroup;
import android.os.Build;
import android.widget.VideoView;
import android.widget.MediaController;

public class VideoPlayerActivity extends Activity {

	@Override
	protected void onStart() {
		super.onStart();
		
		final VideoView videoView = 
	               (VideoView) findViewById(R.id.videoView1);
			
	           videoView.setVideoPath(
         "http://www.ebookfrenzy.com/android_book/movie.mp4");
			
	       MediaController mediaController = new 
	       			MediaController(this);
	       		mediaController.setAnchorView(videoView);
	       	videoView.setMediaController(mediaController);

		videoView.start();

	}
.
.
.
}

When the application is launched with these changes implemented, the media controls will appear over the video playback for a few seconds at the start of playback. These controls should include a seekbar, volume control, pause button and an option to step back 10 seconds in the video timeline. After the controls recede from view, they can be restored by tapping on the VideoView canvas. With just three more lines of code, our video player application now has media controls.

Setting up the onPreparedListener

As a final example of working with video based media, the onStart() method will now be extended further to demonstrate the mechanism for configuring a listener. In this case, a listener will be implemented that is intended to output the duration of the video as a message in the Eclipse Log Cat panel:

package com.example.videoplayer;

import android.app.Activity;
import android.app.ActionBar;
import android.app.Fragment;
import android.os.Bundle;
import android.view.LayoutInflater;
import android.view.Menu;
import android.view.MenuItem;
import android.view.View;
import android.view.ViewGroup;
import android.os.Build;
import android.widget.VideoView;
import android.widget.MediaController;
import android.util.Log;
import android.media.MediaPlayer;

public class VideoPlayerActivity extends Activity {

	String TAG = "com.example.VideoPlayer";

	@Override
	protected void onStart() {
		super.onStart();
		
		final VideoView videoView = 
	               (VideoView) findViewById(R.id.videoView1);
			
	           videoView.setVideoPath(
               "http://www.ebookfrenzy.com/android_book/movie.mp4");
			
	       MediaController mediaController = new 
	       			MediaController(this);
	       	mediaController.setAnchorView(videoView);
	       	videoView.setMediaController(mediaController);

	       videoView.setOnPreparedListener(new 
	    		MediaPlayer.OnPreparedListener()  {
	                  @Override
	                  public void onPrepared(MediaPlayer mp) {                         
	                	Log.i(TAG, "Duration = " + 
					videoView.getDuration());
	                }
	            });	

	      videoView.start();

	}
.
.
.
}

Now just before the video playback begins, a message will appear in the Eclipse LogCat panel that reads along the lines of:

02-01 14:22:42.084: I/com.example.VideoPlayer(28325): Duration = 6874

Summary

Tablet based devices make excellent platforms for the delivery of content to users, particularly in the form of video media. As outlined in this chapter, the Android SDK provides two classes, namely VideoView and MediaController, which combine to make the integration of video playback into Android applications quick and easy, often involving just a few lines of Java code.


You are currently reading the Eclipse - Android 4.4 Edition of this book.

Purchase the fully updated Android Studio 3.0 / Android 8 Edition of this publication in eBook ($24.99) or Print ($39.99) format

Android Studio 3.0 Development Essentials - Android 8 Edition Print and eBook (ePub/PDF/Kindle) editions contain 82 chapters and over 810 pages

Buy eBook Buy Print Preview Book



PreviousTable of ContentsNext
An Android Storage Access Framework ExampleVideo Recording and Image Capture on Android using Camera Intents