App Links, A Cross Platform Solution For Jumping Between Apps

Right now, linking on mobile is a lot more frustrating and complicated than it is on the web. There isn’t an easy, consistent way to control what happens when someone clicks on your content in mobile, which makes it difficult to provide the best experience for your users. It’s also hard to find out when—and how—to send people out of your app and directly into another.

Facebook introduced App Links at f8, their developer conference going on over the next couple days. This is a big deal because it’s essentially a reliable, standardised, cross-platform way to deep-link to content inside native apps.

Deep-linking into apps isn’t new, but it’s always been implemented in different ways, which makes it tricky to develop, maintain or extend.

This not only allows companies to link their mobile web & app presences more easily (like jumping from the Dropbox mobile website to the app), but will also facilitate app-to-app communication as well (like jumping from the Facebook app to an Instagram post inside Instagram).

The documentation even describes UX Guidelines for a back button, particularly useful on iOS where there is no dedicated method of jumping back to where you were in a previous app.

With a standard like this to get traction there will need to be big players supporting it from the get-go. Fortunately Facebook has partnered up with some big guns like Dropbox, Spotify, Pinterest and others, so I think it actually has a shot.