SAN FRANCISCO – A new service from Facebook aims to make it easier for developers to create links between different mobile apps, allowing their users to switch more seamlessly from one app to another and back again.
Called App Links, the an open source, cross-platform service was introduced at Facebook’s F8 conference today by Ilya Sukhar, the former CEO of mobile app platform Parse who is now a member of Facebook’s Platform team.
Using App Links, developers can allow users to click a link inside one app and flip to another application. The App Links service also gives users a banner at the top of the App they’ve switched to, so they can easily go back to the app they were originally using.
While it’s possible for developers to do similar things inside their own sets of apps, it’s harder for different companies to work together to produce a similar result. Using Facebook’s system, for example, companies like Mailbox can make it possible for users to quickly open links to services like Soundcloud or Redfin inside their native apps, rather than in a web browser.
This sidesteps restrictions placed on mobile apps, especially those on the iPhone and iPad, which are sandboxed to prevent them from talking with one another. Still, the system seems like a win for consumers and developers alike. It’s certainly frustrating to tap on a link and have it open in a browser instead of an appropriate mobile app, and App Links seems like a good way to make it possible to ease that pain.
Any developer can get started implementing App Links inside their app by visiting applinks.org and following the steps outlined in the documentation.