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Summary:

Tired of bouncing from app to app as you chase useful content on your mobile phone? So is Facebook, which announced its backing of the open-source App Links effort today.

Photo courtesy of Facebook
photo: Facebook

At its F8 conference on Wednesday, Facebook said we need a better way to move between links and apps on mobile devices. Indeed we do, as it’s no fun getting bounced around from one app only to open another for a short bit and then have to find our way back to the original app. Enter App Links: An open-source effort to make mobile linking a more seamless experience.

app links

The idea of hitting a link in one app to open another isn’t new. What App Links appears to be is a standardized way to do this going forward through metadata tags and a centralized repository of APIs that Facebook is indexing. It already supports Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft Windows Phone platforms.

So what does this “app to app linking” promise bring? A better end-user experience for one:

The idea here is that instead of app developers hard-coding calls to open other specific apps from their own software, App Links code can be used to open a variety of related apps. That would save development time and allow for a wider range of software that can be called from within an mobile app.

app links code

Facebook said a number of partners are already using App Links: Spotify is working with Songkick so that users can hear a song in Spotify, tap a link to buy concert tickets from Songkick for the artist and then be back in Spotify, all while the song keeps playing. “One line of code sends users to the selected URL and brings them back into the app,” said Facebook’s Ilya Sukhar when presenting App Links.

While App Links is beneficial to the mobile industry as a whole, it’s evident why Facebook is strongly backing it. By getting users out to content from within Facebook and then back again to Facebook, the company can keep users highly engaged within Facebook’s walls.

  1. Good idea. Bout time something like this was opened up to the world.

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  2. Reblogged this on Taste of Apple and commented:
    This is an admittedly good effort to solve a real issue many folks are having. Let’s see how Apple tries (or doesn’t try) to address it on iOS. Inter app sharing has long been a wanted feature by techies and neophytes alike. I wonder how useful this will be when Apple releases iOS 8, potentially with its own take. Should be interesting.

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    1. It seems to me that FB is leading the charge on all 3 major mobile OSes. Ergo, Apple might not need to develop their own solution.

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      1. True, but Apple loves to be in control of everything, so it wouldn’t shock me if we see them try something like this.

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  3. Didn’t Google start something akin to this with their deep linking plans a month or so ago?

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