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.
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.
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.