Update work that is already enqueued

WorkManager allows you to update a WorkRequest after you have already enenqueued it. This is often necessary in larger apps that frequently change constraints or need to update their workers on the fly. As of WorkManager version 2.8.0, the updateWork() API is the means of doing this.

The updateWork() method allows you to change certain aspects of a WorkRequest on the fly, without having to go through the process of manually canceling and enqueuing a new one. This greatly simplifies the development process.

Avoid canceling work

You should generally avoid canceling an existing WorkRequest and enqueuing a new one. Doing so can result in the app repeating certain tasks, and can require you to write a significant amount of additional code.

Consider the following examples of where canceling a WorkRequest can cause difficulties:

  • Back-end request: If you cancel a Worker while it is computing a payload to send to the server, the new Worker needs to start over and recompute the potentially expensive payload.
  • Scheduling: If you cancel a PeriodicWorkRequest and you would like the new PeriodicWorkRequest to execute on the same schedule, you need to calculate a time offset to ensure that the new execution time is aligned with the previous work request.

The updateWork() API allows you to update a work request's constraints and other parameters without the trouble of canceling and enqueuing a new request.

When to cancel work

There are cases where you should directly cancel a WorkRequest rather than call updateWork(). This is what you should do when you wish to change the fundamental nature of the work that you have enqueued.

When to update work

Imagine a photo app that does a daily backup of the user's photos. It has enqueued a PeriodicWorkRequest to do so. The WorkRequest has constraints that require the device to be charging and connected to WiFi.

However, the user only charges their device for 20 minutes a day using a fast charger. In this case, the app may want to update the WorkRequest to relax the charging constraint, so that it can still upload the photos even if the device isn't fully charged.

In this situation, you can use the updateWork() method to update the work request's constraints.

How to update work

The updateWork() method provides a simple means of updating an existing WorkRequest, without having to cancel and enqueue a new one.

To use update enqueued work follow these steps:

  1. Get the existing ID for enqueued work: Get the ID of the WorkRequest you would like to update. You can retrieve this ID with any of the getWorkInfo APIs, or by manually persisting the ID from the initial WorkRequest for later retrieval with the public property WorkRequest.id, before enqueuing it.
  2. Create new WorkRequest: Create a new WorkRequest and use WorkRequest.Builder.setID() to set its ID to match that of the existing WorkRequest.
  3. Set constraints: Use WorkRequest.Builder.setConstraints() to pass the WorkManager new constraints.
  4. Call updateWork: Pass the new WorkRequest to updateWork().

Update work example

Here is an example code snippet in Kotlin that demonstrates how to use the updateWork() method to change the battery constraints of a WorkRequest used to upload photos:

suspend fun updatePhotoUploadWork() {
    // Get instance of WorkManager.
    val workManager = WorkManager.getInstance(context)

    // Retrieve the work request ID. In this example, the work being updated is unique
    // work so we can retrieve the ID using the unique work name.
    val photoUploadWorkInfoList = workManager.getWorkInfosForUniqueWork(

    val existingWorkRequestId = photoUploadWorkInfoList.firstOrNull()?.id ?: return

    // Update the constraints of the WorkRequest to not require a charging device.
    val newConstraints = Constraints.Builder()
        // Add other constraints as required here.

    // Create new WorkRequest from existing Worker, new constraints, and the id of the old WorkRequest.
    val updatedWorkRequest: WorkRequest =

    // Pass the new WorkRequest to updateWork().

Handle the result

updateWork() returns a ListenableFuture<UpdateResult>. The given UpdateResult can have one of the several values that outline whether or not WorkManager was able to apply your changes. It also indicates when it was able to apply the change.

For more information, see the updateWork() and UpdateResult reference.

Track work with generations

Each time you update a WorkRequest, its generation increments by one. This lets you track exactly which WorkRequest is currently enqueued. Generations provide you more control when observing, tracing, and testing work requests.

To get the generation of a WorkRequest, follow these steps:

  1. WorkInfo: Call WorkManager.getWorkInfoById() to retrieve an instance of WorkInfo corresponding to your WorkRequest.
    • You can call one of several methods that return a WorkInfo. For more information, see the WorkManager reference.
  2. getGeneration: Call getGeneration() on the instance of WorkInfo. The Int returned corresponds to the generation of the WorkRequest.
    • Note that there isn't a generation field or property, only the WorkInfo.getGeneration() method.

Track generation example

The following is an example implementation of the workflow described above for retrieving the generation of a WorkRequest.

// Get instance of WorkManager.
val workManager = WorkManager.getInstance(context)

// Retrieve WorkInfo instance.
val workInfo = workManager.getWorkInfoById(oldWorkRequestId)

// Call getGeneration to retrieve the generation.
val generation = workInfo.getGeneration()

Policies for updating work

Previously, the recommended solution to updating periodic work was to enqueue a PeriodicWorkRequest with the policy ExistingPeriodicWorkPolicy.REPLACE. If there was a pending PeriodicWorkRequest with the same unique id, the new work request would cancel and delete it. This policy is now deprecated in favor of the workflow using the ExistingPeriodicWorkPolicy.UPDATE.

For example, when using enqueueUniquePeriodicWork with a PeriodicWorkRequest, you can initialize the new PeriodicWorkRequest with the ExistingPeriodicWorkPolicy.UPDATE policy. If there is a pending PeriodicWorkRequest with the same unique name, WorkManager updates it to the new specification. Following this workflow, it is not necessary to use updateWork().