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android – Can you deploy to a device via Gradle from the command line

Posted by: admin March 11, 2020 Leave a comment


What the question says really – can you issue any commands directly to gradlew via the command line to build, package and deploy to a device?

How to&Answers:
$ gradle installDebug

This will push the debug build apk to device, but you have to manually start the application.


Since you are using Gradle, you could simple add your own task in build.gradle

task appStart(type: Exec, dependsOn: 'installDebug') {
    // linux 
    commandLine 'adb', 'shell', 'am', 'start', '-n', 'com.example/.MyActivity'

    // windows
    // commandLine 'cmd', '/c', 'adb', 'shell', 'am', 'start', '-n', 'com.example/.MyActivity'      

then call it in your project root

$ gradle appStart


If you are using applicationIdSuffix ".debug", add .debug to the appId only but leave the activity untouched:



1. Build project, install generated apk to device

# at the root dir of project
$ gradle installDebug

2. Open app on device

$ adb shell am start -n yourpackagename/.activityname


One line sentence:

Build project & Install generated apk & Open app on device

$ ./gradlew installDebug && adb shell am start -n com.example/.activities.MainActivity


There are three commands to accomplish this:

  1. ./gradlew assembleDebug #To build the project

  2. adb install -r ./app/build/outputs/apk/app-debug.apk #To install it to the device

  3. adb shell am start -n $PACKAGE/$PACKAGE.$ACTIVITY #To launch the application in the device, where $PACKAGE is the development package and $ACTIVITY is the activity to be launched (the launcher activity).

I’ve been writing a bash script to do this, with other few features.


A more flexible way to do it is by using monkey:

task runDebug (type: Exec, dependsOn: 'installDebug') {
    commandLine android.getAdbExe().toString(), "shell",
        "-p", "your.package.name.debugsuffix",
        "-c", "android.intent.category.LAUNCHER", "1"

Some advantages to this method:

  • getAdbExe doesn’t require adb to be on the path and uses the adb version from the sdk pointed to in local.properties.
  • The monkey tool allows you to send a launcher intent, so you aren’t required to know the name of your activity.


task appStart(type: Exec, dependsOn: 'installDebug') {
    commandLine android.adbExe, 'shell', 'am', 'start', '-n', 'com.example/.MyActivity'


Build -> uninstall old verion -> install new version -> run application.

echo "Build application" && ./gradlew clean build && 
echo "Uninstall application" && adb uninstall [application package] && 
echo "Install application" && adb -d install app/build/outputs/apk/<build type>/[apk name].apk echo "Run application" && 
adb shell am start -n [application package]/.[application name]

Or if you want install and run application in debug type.

./gradlew installDebug && adb shell am start -n [application package]/.[application name]


I wrote this task to be able to install and also open the application on the device. Since I had multiple buildTypes and flavors with different application ids, it was not feasible to hard code the package name. So I wrote it like this instead:

android.applicationVariants.all { variant ->
    task "open${variant.name.capitalize()}" {
        dependsOn "install${variant.name.capitalize()}"

        doLast {
            exec {
                commandLine "adb shell monkey -p ${variant.applicationId} -c android.intent.category.LAUNCHER 1".split(" ")

This would give you open{variant} for every install{variant} task you already have.