Facebook’s AppLinks: taking mobile browsers out of the equation


Another one of the innovations launched Wednesday at f8 takes frustration out of mobile links and app-to-app browsing. Through Facebook AppLinks, a user can go from a link in one Facebook mobile-integrated app to another without the conduit of a mobile browser and login friction.

Parse CEO Ilya Sukhar announced AppLinks in the keynote:

This gives you everything you need to publish, discover and navigate to deep links on mobile on any platform. … I hope this is the direction that mobile takes for the future. This is how the web works, and it’s awesome. Let’s keep it awesome.

One of the main frustrations for both users and app developers is the inability to have a fluid app transition. For instance, if a user taps a link or an ad on Facebook’s News Feed, they’re led to a mobile browser to view the website and/or log in. It’s a lengthy process that often turns the user away and doesn’t motivate them to continue the action — similar to mobile payments in the earlier days.

Facebook (and Parse) want to fix that.

More than 25 apps — such as Endomondo, Spotify Pinterest and Hulu — have already been using AppLinks in beta. The HTML aspect is fairly simple for developers, who previously had to hardlink without knowing if another app supported deep linking.

Jason Clark, an engineering manager at Facebook, said that the mobile experience should be on par and maybe even better than web. AppLinks is Facebook’s attempt to make that happen. Through AppLinks, developers and advertisers can create this cleaner and seamless experience through URLs shared directly from apps, posts on News Feed and ads.

Facebook Mobile Product Manager Vijay Shankar talked more at length about how AppLinks works with Facebook links:

Facebook is the primary source of discovery for mobile apps. So you may ask, “How much of this is related to linking?” Every week, the Facebook apps send an excess of 2.4 billion link clicks just from iOS and Android. Let’s unpack this for a moment. Most of these 2.4 billion link clicks lead people to your content today. And now, with the Facebook app supporting AppLinks, you can now provide people the best possible experience to consume your content.

Facebook also published a video showing how AppLinks works:

App Links Home Page Intro from Liquid Agency on Vimeo.

Readers: What do you think about AppLinks?

Photo by Praneendra Kuver for Inside Facebook.