Intent Service: Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Rohit Singh
2 min readFeb 27, 2020


This is a re-post of an answer I wrote on Stackoverflow.

IntentService extends Service class which clearly means that IntentService is intentionally made for the same purpose.

So what is the purpose?

`IntentService’s purpose is to make our job easier to run background tasks without even worrying about

  • Creation of worker thread
  • Queuing the processing multiple-request one by one (Threading)
  • Destroying the Service

So NO, Service can do any task which an IntentService would do. If your requirements fall under the above-mentioned criteria, then you don't have to write those logics in Service class. So don't reinvent the wheel because IntentService is the invented wheel.

The “Main” difference

The Service runs on the UI thread while an IntentService runs on a separate thread

When do you use IntentService?

When you want to perform multiple background tasks one by one which exists beyond the scope of an Activity then the IntentService is perfect.

How IntentService is made from Service

A normal service runs on the UI Thread(Any Android Component type runs on UI thread by default eg Activity, BroadcastReceiver, ContentProvider and Service). If you have to do some work that may take a while to complete then you have to create a thread. In the case of multiple requests, you will have to deal with synchronization. IntentService is given some default implementation which does those tasks for you.
According to the developer page

  1. IntentService creates a Worker Thread
  2. IntentService creates a Work Queue which sends the request to onHandleIntent() method one by one
  3. When there is no work then IntentService calls stopSelf() method
  4. Provides default implementation for onBind() the method which is null
  5. Default implementation for onStartCommand() which sends Intent request to WorkQueue and eventually to onHandleIntent()
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Rohit Singh

Android Developer | Arizona State University | NASA Psyche Research Aide