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mobile deep linking

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Mobile deep linking is the use of URIs (uniform resource identifiers) to make specific parts of mobile applications addressable so that those elements can be accessed directly by mobile users.

Deep linking is the expected behavior online. It means, for example, that the link for smartphone takes you directly to the definition for that term, rather than the home page of SearchMobileComputing. Similarly, a link in an ad on a website usually takes you to a page where you can purchase the product rather than the retailer's home page. 

However, mobile applications have typically lacked deep links, which makes it impossible for one app to connect the user to a particular part of another app. Mobile users often attempt to engage with links through social shares, push notifications, emails and other sources. Generally, however, a link just takes the user to the application's mobile website or perhaps a listing in an app store. Deep mobile links allow the user to launch the app and go directly to the appropriate screen.

For the user, the benefit is convenience: Mobile deep linking makes it easier for people to access resources and use applications on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices because it decreases the number of actions they have to take to get to their target destination. For mobile app and content creators, on the other hand, deep linking could mean the difference between success and failure: If elements inside an app are not addressable, they cannot be indexed by a search engine and will not show up in user searches. For content, that translates to a lost audience; for a vendor, it translates to lost sales. 

Twitter, Facebook, Spotify and Etsy are among the companies currently developing the infrastructure to enable deep linking.

See a video presentation on mobile deep linking:

This was last updated in April 2015

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