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It is basically a passive data structure holding an abstract description of an action to be performed.
There are a variety of standard Intent action and category constants defined in the Intent class, but applications can also define their own.
These strings use Java-style scoping, to ensure they are unique -- for example, the standard is called "android.intent.action. Put together, the set of actions, data types, categories, and extra data defines a language for the system allowing for the expression of phrases such as "call john smith's cell".
As applications are added to the system, they can extend this language by adding new actions, types, and categories, or they can modify the behavior of existing phrases by supplying their own activities that handle them.
There are two primary forms of intents you will use.
An activity that provides a user interface for adjusting application preferences.
Optional but recommended settings for all applications which have settings. APPLICATION_PREFERENCES" Broadcast Action: Sent after application restrictions are changed.
This is a protected intent that can only be sent by the system. APPLICATION_RESTRICTIONS_CHANGED" Activity Action: The user pressed the "Report" button in the crash/ANR dialog.
This intent is delivered to the package which installed the application, usually Google Play. The bug report is passed in using an Used to indicate that some piece of data should be attached to some other place.
For example, image data could be attached to a contact.
It is up to the recipient to decide where the data should be attached; the intent does not specify the ultimate destination.