At the Facebook F8 Developer’s Conference held at San Francisco, Facebook introduced to the world a whole range of new programs and initiatives for developers. One of the most exciting releases was definitely App Links.
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As an attempt to make linking to other applications from your own app easy for developers, App Links was created by Facebook.
If you are using say, the Facebook app, and click on a photo that is linked to Instagram, the link will take you directly to the image’s location on the Instagram app. This is more convenient in comparison to opening up a separate browsing window for the image.
Termed mobile deep linking, app-to-app connections of this kind do exist presently, but from the developer’s point of view, are not very easy to navigate. Working differently depending on the platform you’re using it on, linking is substantially diverse on the iOS compared to Android or Windows platforms.
Open source and free for all, App Links is the one-stop solution for the problem of linking. Currently, the servie supports iOS, Android and Windows Phone, but as the technology developes, Facebook plans to expand it to more platforms.
Developers simply need to put meta-tags in their web pages to direct to specific applications on iOS, Android and Windows Phones. This means that if you’re in the Messenger app and tap on a Spotify song, you will be taken directly to that song in the Spotify app.
Facebook’s approach with App Links is distinct from the others because the standard is open, makes use of existing deep linking provisions by each OD provider and allows developers to use app indexes from anywhere. Another plus point is that App Links works alongside other deep linking solutions, and is supported by Facebook’s native apps as well.