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android – In a nutshell what's the difference from using OAuth2 request getAuthToken and getToken

Posted by: admin June 15, 2020 Leave a comment


When deling with access token OAuth 2.0
In a nutshell what’s the difference from using:

AccountManager.getAuthToken ("oauth2:https...userinfo.profile"),

and using Google Plays:

GoogleAuthUtil.getToken(mActivity, mEmail, mScope)

As I understand it they both produce a challenge screen for the user,
the Google Plays screen is user friendlier. The access token can have same scope right?!
Both call have to be asynchronously. InvalidateToken looks like it has to be checked for in both calls, and more?

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How to&Answers:

I didn’t know about using Google Play services for OAuth 2.0 authentication, but after taking a quick look at it, it looks pretty interesting and I think it’s something I could prefer to use over the AccountManager.getAuthToken.

Major differences



  • Can be used for all Android 2.0 devices and newer.
  • Is built in to Android and doesn’t require any separate SDK.
  • Can be used for all types of accounts that has an authenticator, not only Google.


  • Returns a token that may have expired so you always have to invalidate the token and request it again to make sure you have a valid token.
  • Requires the permissions GET_ACCOUNTS and USE_CREDENTIALS.
  • Challenge screen is not user friendly for Android 2.*




  • Require Android 2.2 and that the device have Google Play
  • Require that you download and include the Google Play services SDK in your app.
  • You need to register your app in the Google API Console
  • Can “only” be used for Google services that uses OAuth 2.0

Challenge screen comparison

AccountManager.getAuthToken Challenge screen on Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich

getAuthToken challenge screen for Gingerbread
getAuthToken challenge screen for Ice cream sandwich

GoogleAuthUtil.getToken Challenge screen

getToken challenge screen
getToken challenge screen, more details


Since the GoogleAuthUtil approach has a much user friendlier challenge screen and requires less permissions at install time I would definitely use this approach instead of the AccountManager.getAuthToken approach whenever I can. Since you always get a valid token and don’t have to hassle with invalidating the token it should make the code simpler as well.