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Provides a dedicated drawing [Surface] as a separate layer positioned by default behind the window holding the [AndroidExternalSurface] composable. Because [AndroidExternalSurface] uses a separate window layer, graphics composition is handled by the system compositor which can bypass the GPU and provide better performance and power usage characteristics compared to [AndroidEmbeddedExternalSurface]. It is therefore recommended to use [AndroidExternalSurface] over [AndroidEmbeddedExternalSurface] whenever possible.

The [Surface] provided can be used to present content that's external to Compose, such as a video stream (from a camera or a media player), OpenGL, Vulkan...The provided [Surface] can be rendered into using a thread different from the main thread.

The z-ordering of the surface can be controlled using the [zOrder] parameter:

  • [AndroidExternalSurfaceZOrder.Behind]: positions the surface behind the window
  • [AndroidExternalSurfaceZOrder.MediaOverlay]: positions the surface behind the window but above other [AndroidExternalSurfaceZOrder.Behind] surfaces
  • [AndroidExternalSurfaceZOrder.OnTop]: positions the surface above the window

The drawing surface is opaque by default, which can be controlled with the [isOpaque] parameter. When the surface is transparent, you may need to change the z-order to see something behind the surface.

To start rendering, the caller must first acquire the [Surface] when it's created. This is achieved by providing the [onInit] lambda, which allows the caller to register an appropriate [AndroidExternalSurfaceScope.onSurface] callback. The [onInit] lambda can also be used to initialize/cache resources needed once a surface is available.

After acquiring a surface, the caller can start rendering into it. Rendering into a surface can be done from any thread.

It is recommended to register the [SurfaceScope.onChanged] and [SurfaceScope.onDestroyed] callbacks to properly handle the lifecycle of the surface and react to dimension changes. You must ensure that the rendering thread stops interacting with the surface when the [SurfaceScope.onDestroyed] callback is invoked.

If a [surfaceSize] is specified (set to non-[IntSize.Zero]), the surface will use the specified size instead of the layout size of this composable. The surface will be stretched at render time to fit the layout size. This can be used for instance to render at a lower resolution for performance reasons.

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dependencies {


fun AndroidExternalSurface(
    modifier: Modifier = Modifier,
    isOpaque: Boolean = true,
    surfaceSize: IntSize = IntSize.Zero,
    zOrder: AndroidExternalSurfaceZOrder = AndroidExternalSurfaceZOrder.Behind,
    isSecure: Boolean = false,
    onInit: AndroidExternalSurfaceScope.() -> Unit


modifierModifier to be applied to the [AndroidExternalSurface]
isOpaqueWhether the managed surface should be opaque or transparent.
surfaceSizeSets the surface size independently of the layout size of this [AndroidExternalSurface]. If set to [IntSize.Zero], the surface size will be equal to the [AndroidExternalSurface] layout size.
zOrderSets the z-order of the surface relative to its parent window.
isSecureControl whether the surface view's content should be treated as secure, preventing it from appearing in screenshots or from being viewed on non-secure displays.
onInitLambda invoked on first composition. This lambda can be used to declare a [AndroidExternalSurfaceScope.onSurface] callback that will be invoked when a surface is available.

Code Example


fun AndroidExternalSurfaceColors() {
        modifier = Modifier.fillMaxWidth().height(400.dp)
    ) {
        // Resources can be initialized/cached here

        // A surface is available, we can start rendering
        onSurface { surface, width, height ->
            var w = width
            var h = height

            // Initial draw to avoid a black frame
            surface.lockCanvas(Rect(0, 0, w, h)).apply {

            // React to surface dimension changes
            surface.onChanged { newWidth, newHeight ->
                w = newWidth
                h = newHeight

            // Cleanup if needed
            surface.onDestroyed {

            // Render loop, automatically cancelled on surface destruction
            while (true) {
                withFrameNanos { time ->
                    surface.lockCanvas(Rect(0, 0, w, h)).apply {
                        val timeMs = time / 1_000_000L
                        val t = 0.5f + 0.5f * sin(timeMs / 1_000.0f)
                        drawColor(lerp(Color.Blue, Color.Green, t).toArgb())