Apple iOS 9 Deep Linking Promises Improved App Discoverability Even For Apps Not Installed

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At Apple’s WWDC even on Monday, Apple announced many search related features but also touched on the new and improved iOS 9 method for App Deep Linking.

Deep linking is a way for app developers to communicate what content can be found within their apps and a way to specifically trigger links and actions to specific pages or sections of their app. So for example, if you have an app about cooking and you want to link someone to a recipe on making popcorn, you can with app deep linking.

If you review the developer documentation on iOS search, you will see the detailed protocol for implementing these parameters into your apps. The neat part, you do not need a web version counterpart like you currently do with Google’s App Indexing protocol.

Apple said users can discover and access information within your app “even when it isn’t installed.” I suspect built into iOS search, it will recommend apps that you can install based on the content within your app. Much like Google started doing in April.

In addition, Apple said in their developer docs that when you adopt deep linking you will see an “increase the usage of your app” and more importantly “improve its discoverability by displaying your content when users search across the system and on the web.”

Here are some screen shots of how it works based on the keynote at the WWDC event:

You search for [potato] in iOS 9 and it shows you content from within the Yummly app.

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Clicking on any of the recipes listed below will trigger the app to open directly to that page in the app:

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Apple gave an example in their developer docs:

For an example of how this works, imagine that your app helps users handle minor medical conditions, such as a sunburn or a sprained ankle. When you adopt iOS 9 Search, users searching their devices for “sprained ankle” can get results for your app even when they don’t have your app installed. When users tap on a result for your app, they get the opportunity to download your app. Similarly, users can get results for your app and related web content when they search for “sprained ankle” in Safari. Tapping on a result in Safari takes users to your website, where they can download your app from your App Banner.

Again, you can read how to implement these into iOS 9 over here.

Now that we have Google’s app indexing, Bing’s app linking and Facebook’s app links – we needed to add Apple’s Deep Links to the puzzle. We do need some sort of standardization across all four, I believe.

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