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How to periodically scan for bluetooth devices on android

Posted by: admin April 23, 2020 Leave a comment


Hi this may sound as a stupid question.But I was unable to find any answers for this, thus posting here.

I am building an indoor application which continuously scans the bluetooth dongles located at different locations in a place like a mall or library.As I move in the mall with android phone in my hand I should be able to get the nearest dongle which I can connect to(Stupid Idea but I want to do something else with this).For this I should be able to continuously scan for the bluetooth devices.

Please can someone tell me how do I make android scan the available Bluetooth devices periodically.

How to&Answers:

I guess this was so simple but didnt strike me before. Here is the answer,

private BluetoothAdapter mBtAdapter;

private final BroadcastReceiver mReceiver = new BroadcastReceiver()
        public void onReceive(Context context, Intent intent)
            String action = intent.getAction();

            // When discovery finds a device
            if (BluetoothDevice.ACTION_FOUND.equals(action))
            //do something

            else if (BluetoothAdapter.ACTION_DISCOVERY_FINISHED.equals(action))
                Log.v(TAG,"Entered the Finished ");

Thus we should start discovery again on ACTION_DISCOVERY_FINISHED which will continuously scan for devices every 12 seconds.


Here is the Code to get the list of all Active Bluetooth Devices[Paired or non-paired]

import java.util.Set;

import android.app.Activity;
import android.bluetooth.BluetoothAdapter;
import android.bluetooth.BluetoothDevice;
import android.content.BroadcastReceiver;
import android.content.Context;
import android.content.Intent;
import android.content.IntentFilter;
import android.os.Bundle;
import android.util.Log;
import android.view.View;
import android.view.Window;
import android.view.View.OnClickListener;
import android.widget.AdapterView;
import android.widget.ArrayAdapter;
import android.widget.Button;
import android.widget.ListView;
import android.widget.TextView;
import android.widget.AdapterView.OnItemClickListener;

 * This Activity appears as a dialog. It lists any paired devices and
 * devices detected in the area after discovery. When a device is chosen
 * by the user, the MAC address of the device is sent back to the parent
 * Activity in the result Intent.
public class DeviceListActivity extends Activity {
    // Debugging
    private static final String TAG = "DeviceListActivity";
    private static final boolean D = true;

    // Return Intent extra
    public static String EXTRA_DEVICE_ADDRESS = "device_address";

    // Member fields
    private BluetoothAdapter mBtAdapter;
    private ArrayAdapter<String> mPairedDevicesArrayAdapter;
    private ArrayAdapter<String> mNewDevicesArrayAdapter;

    protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

        // Setup the window

        // Initialize the button to perform device discovery
        Button scanButton = (Button) findViewById(R.id.button_scan);
        scanButton.setOnClickListener(new OnClickListener() {
            public void onClick(View v) {

        // Initialize array adapters. One for already paired devices and
        // one for newly discovered devices
        mPairedDevicesArrayAdapter = new ArrayAdapter<String>(this, R.layout.device_name);
        mNewDevicesArrayAdapter = new ArrayAdapter<String>(this, R.layout.device_name);

        // Find and set up the ListView for paired devices
        ListView pairedListView = (ListView) findViewById(R.id.paired_devices);

        // Find and set up the ListView for newly discovered devices
        ListView newDevicesListView = (ListView) findViewById(R.id.new_devices);

        // Register for broadcasts when a device is discovered
        IntentFilter filter = new IntentFilter(BluetoothDevice.ACTION_FOUND);
        this.registerReceiver(mReceiver, filter);

        // Register for broadcasts when discovery has finished
        filter = new IntentFilter(BluetoothAdapter.ACTION_DISCOVERY_FINISHED);
        this.registerReceiver(mReceiver, filter);

        // Get the local Bluetooth adapter
        mBtAdapter = BluetoothAdapter.getDefaultAdapter();

        // Get a set of currently paired devices
        Set<BluetoothDevice> pairedDevices = mBtAdapter.getBondedDevices();

        // If there are paired devices, add each one to the ArrayAdapter
        if (pairedDevices.size() > 0) {
            for (BluetoothDevice device : pairedDevices) {
                mPairedDevicesArrayAdapter.add(device.getName() + "\n" + device.getAddress());
        } else {
            String noDevices = getResources().getText(R.string.none_paired).toString();

    protected void onDestroy() {

        // Make sure we're not doing discovery anymore
        if (mBtAdapter != null) {
         // Unregister broadcast listeners

     * Start device discover with the BluetoothAdapter
    private void doDiscovery() {
        if (D) Log.d(TAG, "doDiscovery()");

        // Indicate scanning in the title

        // Turn on sub-title for new devices

        // If we're already discovering, stop it
        if (mBtAdapter.isDiscovering()) {
         // Request discover from BluetoothAdapter

    // The on-click listener for all devices in the ListViews
    private OnItemClickListener mDeviceClickListener = new OnItemClickListener() {
        public void onItemClick(AdapterView<?> av, View v, int i, long l) {
            // Cancel discovery because it's costly and we're about to connect

            // Get the device MAC address, which is the last 17 chars in the View
            String info = ((TextView) v).getText().toString();
            String address = info.substring(info.length() - 17);


    // The BroadcastReceiver that listens for discovered devices and
    // changes the title when discovery is finished
    private final BroadcastReceiver mReceiver = new BroadcastReceiver() {
        public void onReceive(Context context, Intent intent) {
            String action = intent.getAction();

            // When discovery finds a device
            if (BluetoothDevice.ACTION_FOUND.equals(action)) {
                // Get the BluetoothDevice object from the Intent
                BluetoothDevice device = intent.getParcelableExtra(BluetoothDevice.EXTRA_DEVICE);
                // If it's already paired, skip it, because it's been listed already
                if (device.getBondState() != BluetoothDevice.BOND_BONDED) {
                    mNewDevicesArrayAdapter.add(device.getName() + "\n" + device.getAddress());
            // When discovery is finished, change the Activity title
            } else if (BluetoothAdapter.ACTION_DISCOVERY_FINISHED.equals(action)) {
                if (mNewDevicesArrayAdapter.getCount() == 0) {
                    String noDevices = getResources().getText(R.string.none_found).toString();


I get the idea from API demo, i hope this could be useful for all developers.


As stated in the documentation device discovery is a lofty process that will directly degrade the performance of any bonds you have with other devices.

Caution: Performing device discovery is a heavy procedure for the
Bluetooth adapter and will consume a lot of its resources. Once you
have found a device to connect, be certain that you always stop
discovery with cancelDiscovery() before attempting a connection. Also,
if you already hold a connection with a device, then performing
discovery can significantly reduce the bandwidth available for the
connection, so you should not perform discovery while connected.

With this in mind (error handling omitted):

private final BroadcastReceiver deviceBroadcastReceiver = new BroadcastReceiver() {
        public void onReceive(Context context, Intent intent) {
            String action = intent.getAction();

            if (BluetoothDevice.ACTION_FOUND.equals(action)) {
                 deviceFound = true;


                 //process new device.

                 deviceFound = false;


private final BroadcastReceiver adapterBroadcastReceiver = new BroadcastReceiver() {
        public void onReceive(Context context, Intent intent) {
            String action = intent.getAction();

            if (BluetoothAdaptor.ACTION_DISCOVERY_FINISHED.equals(action)) {
                 if (deviceFound == false) {


Your code snippet should work – Only that it will be expensive in terms of power draw and will certainly kill your device/phone in a few hours.
The startDiscovery() does a 2 step process, finding the device by inquiring for it and followed by a name discovery ie paging and connecting to the device,

Unfortunately Android does not provide any API to control this and do only inquiry , also there is a periodic inquiry feature defined and supported by most Bluetooth chipsets, Android currently does not have any API to do periodic inquiry which could have been more ideal for your use case.