iOS 9 – New Universal links and Search features


Oct. 15

3.47 K


Two of the most significant features enabled for iOS 9 are the introduction of searchable app content and Universal Links. The new search capabilities introduced by iOS 9 effectively turn Spotlight search, Safari search, and Siri suggestions into a Google-like search engine that can index app content from the millions of apps in the app store. Secondly, Universal Links make it possible to automatically intercept and redirect your web traffic on iOS devices to your mobile app (if installed).

Universal deep linking

Suppose you are planning to go for a vacation and browsing for some good hotel accommodation, you will get hotel results from travel websites like TripAdvisor, Expedia etc. and you click on any one to these link; what would you expect is that the web page of that travel website will open, even if you had TripAdvisor or Expedia app installed on your iPhone.

This is because the app has no idea to link you to that hotel inside of the app. Instead it would be great if iOS knew that

  • You have that app installed on your iPhone.

  • If it would take you directly to that hotel inside of the app.

This is what exactly happens in iOS 9. When you click on any of these links, it will intelligently take you to that exact hotel inside of the TripAdvisor or Expedia app bypassing Safari altogether (if you have any of these app installed on your iPhone). This feature is what Apple terms as Universal deep linking. On top of that, it generates a back link so you can go back to Safari with just one tap.

The experience is exactly what you would expect when two apps work seamlessly together. With this feature in iOS 9:

  • Apps are cohesively linked together via deep links.

  • Can redirect users right to the relevant content within your app, using just a standard web link preceded by either http:// or https://.

The difference between regular links and universal links can be described as below:

  • Regular Links

Has app: Click -> Safari -> App opens

No app: Click -> Safari -> App store

  • Universal Links

Has app: Click -> App opens

No app: Click -> Safari -> App store


Besides app to app linking, iOS 9 has also introduced a great Search feature. Currently whatever you search (whether Spotlight search, Siri search or standard Google search either from Safari or Google app), the web links results are result of whatever Google or other search engine has found.

But there is a large amount of information and contents available inside each iOS app, which Google or any other search engine is unaware of.

This is what iOS 9 official document says – “Search in iOS 9 gives users great new ways to access information inside of your app, even when it isn’t installed. When you make your content searchable, users can access activities and content deep within your app through Spotlight and Safari search results, Handoff, and Siri suggestions. Using APIs related to search, you decide what content gets indexed, what information to show in search results, and where the user is redirected after tapping a result from your app or website.”

Again consider the above use case of your plan on going to vacation. Say you are planning to visit LA for your vacation and while searching for LA, any airline apps (whether installed on your iPhone or not) can offer up a deep link inside of its app for flights from current location to LA.

For a large number of brands and organizations, this search represents a powerful new way to improve app content discoverability. This will dramatically improve the user experience on iOS. It allows brands to showcase what the app offers without having you to download it first.

iOS 9 also offer features for creating meta tags and indexing to make your app searchable so that while searching, your app and it’s relevant contents are displayed on top, thus highlighting your app and increasing the chances that your app will be installed and used than other apps.

If you are looking for developing a new app or modifying your existing brand apps to utilize these awesome features of iOS 9 then LetsNurture team will be happy to help you and promote your business needs.


Ketan Raval
Posted by Ketan Raval


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