Android Java Native Interface (JNI)


JNI (Java Native Interface) is a powerful tool that enables Android developers to utilize the NDK and use C++ native code in their applications. This topic describes the usage of Java <-> C++ interface.

How to call a Java method from native code

The Java Native Interface (JNI) allows you to call Java functions from native code. Here is a simple example of how to do it:

Java code:

package com.example.jniexample;
public class JNITest {
    public static int getAnswer(bool) {
        return 42;

Native code:

int getTheAnswer()
    // Get JNI environment
    JNIEnv *env = JniGetEnv();

    // Find the Java class - provide package ('.' replaced to '/') and class name
    jclass jniTestClass = env->FindClass("com/example/jniexample/JNITest");

    // Find the Java method - provide parameters inside () and return value (see table below for an explanation of how to encode them) 
    jmethodID getAnswerMethod = env->GetStaticMethodID(jniTestClass, "getAnswer", "(Z)I;");

    // Calling the method
    return (int)env->CallStaticObjectMethod(jniTestClass, getAnswerMethod, (jboolean)true);

JNI method signature to Java type:

JNI SignatureJava Type
L fully-qualified-class ;fully-qualified-class
[ typetype[]

So for our example we used (Z)I - which means the function gets a boolean and returns an int.

How to call functions in a native library via the JNI interface

The Java Native Interface (JNI) allows you to call native functions from Java code, and vice versa. This example shows how to load and call a native function via JNI, it does not go into accessing Java methods and fields from native code using JNI functions.

Suppose you have a native library named in the project/libs/<architecture> folder, and you want to call a function from the JNITestJava class inside the com.example.jniexample package.

In the JNITest class, declare the function like this:

public native int testJNIfunction(int a, int b);

In your native code, define the function like this:

#include <jni.h>

JNIEXPORT jint JNICALL Java_com_example_jniexample_JNITest_testJNIfunction(JNIEnv *pEnv, jobject thiz, jint a, jint b)
    return a + b;

The pEnv argument is a pointer to the JNI environment that you can pass to JNI functions to access methods and fields of Java objects and classes. The thiz pointer is a jobject reference to the Java object that the native method was called on (or the class if it is a static method).

In your Java code, in JNITest, load the library like this:


Note the lib at the start, and the .so at the end of the filename are omitted.

Call the native function from Java like this:

JNITest test = new JNITest();
int c = test.testJNIfunction(3, 4);

Utility method in JNI layer

This method will help to get the Java string from C++ string.

jstring getJavaStringFromCPPString(JNIEnv *global_env, const char* cstring) {

        jstring nullString = global_env->NewStringUTF(NULL);

        if (!cstring) {
            return nullString;

        jclass strClass = global_env->FindClass("java/lang/String");
        jmethodID ctorID = global_env->GetMethodID(strClass, "<init>",
        jstring encoding = global_env->NewStringUTF("UTF-8");

        jbyteArray bytes = global_env->NewByteArray(strlen(cstring));
        global_env->SetByteArrayRegion(bytes, 0, strlen(cstring), (jbyte*) cstring);
        jstring str = (jstring) global_env->NewObject(strClass, ctorID, bytes,


        return str;

This method will help you to convert jbyteArray to char

char* as_unsigned_char_array(JNIEnv *env, jbyteArray array) {
    jsize length = env->GetArrayLength(array);
    jbyte* buffer = new jbyte[length + 1];

    env->GetByteArrayRegion(array, 0, length, buffer);
    buffer[length] = '\0';

    return (char*) buffer;