/React Native

Headless JS

Project with Native Code Required

This page only applies to projects made with react-native init or to those made with Create React Native App which have since ejected. For more information about ejecting, please see the guide on the Create React Native App repository.

Headless JS is a way to run tasks in JavaScript while your app is in the background. It can be used, for example, to sync fresh data, handle push notifications, or play music.


A task is a simple async function that you register on AppRegistry, similar to registering React applications:

AppRegistry.registerHeadlessTask('SomeTaskName', () => require('SomeTaskName'));

Then, in SomeTaskName.js:

module.exports = async (taskData) => {
  // do stuff

You can do anything in your task as long as it doesn't touch UI: network requests, timers and so on. Once your task completes (i.e. the promise is resolved), React Native will go into "paused" mode (unless there are other tasks running, or there is a foreground app).

The Java API

Yes, this does still require some native code, but it's pretty thin. You need to extend HeadlessJsTaskService and override getTaskConfig, e.g.:

public class MyTaskService extends HeadlessJsTaskService {

  protected @Nullable HeadlessJsTaskConfig getTaskConfig(Intent intent) {
    Bundle extras = intent.getExtras();
    if (extras != null) {
      return new HeadlessJsTaskConfig(
    return null;

Now, whenever you start your service, e.g. as a periodic task or in response to some system event / broadcast, JS will spin up, run your task, then spin down.


  • By default, your app will crash if you try to run a task while the app is in the foreground. This is to prevent developers from shooting themselves in the foot by doing a lot of work in a task and slowing the UI. There is a way around this.
  • If you start your service from a BroadcastReceiver, make sure to call HeadlessJsTaskService.acquireWakelockNow() before returning from onReceive().

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