Changes for iOS SmartTag Redirects for iOS 9.2 and Higher

Last Updated: Jan 17, 2016 10:45PM PST
With the release of iOS 9.2 on December 8th, 2015, Apple is changing the way that brands can redirect users to specific pages within an app. This change will affect users of iOS 9.2 or higher.
 
For users of iOS 9.2 or higher, you will need to use Apple “Universal Links” to send users to specific links within your app and have a fallback URL for users who do not have the app installed.
 

THE OLD WAY TO REDIRECT TO SPECIFIC PAGES: URI SCHEMES

Many brands use solutions based on “URI schemes” such as SmartTags to govern user redirection today. A SmartTag sends users to a different destination depending upon whether or not they have an app installed.
  • App users are sent to a “URI Scheme” that loads a specific content within the app
  • Non-app-users are sent to a fallback URL, typically the app store or mobile web content
URI schemes are comparable to domain names in the web world, and have been used by the mobile app community for the past seven years. Similar to domain names, for example apsalar.com, each app could register a URI scheme, for example apsalar://. If a user then downloads the Apsalar app and navigates to an Apsalar web link like apsalar://, iOS would automatically detect that an app registered with that URI scheme is present on the device, and would load the app instead of sending the user to a blank webpage.
 
Deeplinks are comparable to web page URLs in the web world. For example take the Apsalar signup page with URL https://apsalar.com/contact/ - a deeplink in the Apsalar app for the signup page would allow Apsalar to send users directly to the signup page. In the world of URI schemes, this would look something like apsalar://signup_page.
 
Under the old way, you could user Apsalar SmartTags to specify deeplink and fallback URLs for multiple platforms, and Apsalar will automatically redirect your users to the correct destination. The SmartTag would automatically detect whether a user had an app, and redirect to app content if the app was installed or to the app store/other destination if the app was not installed.
 

THE NEW WAY: APPLE UNIVERSAL LINKS

For users of 9.2 or higher, Apple is requiring app publishers to use something called Universal Links to redirect users to in-app content. Universal tags were introduced by Apple earlier this year. Some publishers have already implemented Universal Links, others have not.
 
With Universal Links you must upload to Apple a mapping of your web page URLs to different pages of your application. When the user tries to navigate to a URL, Apple would automatically redirect the user to the page you identified in your mapping.
 
With SmartTags, you are able to specify deeplink and fallback URLs for multiple platforms, and Apsalar will automatically redirect your users to the correct destination whether they have the app installed or not. SmartTags rely on URL-schemes for redirecting your users to the correct page within the app.
 
If your app does not support Universal Links, all users will be redirected to the fallback app store configured in the destination for your Smart Tag. Users can then open the app from the app store page, and navigate to appropriate content.
 

WHAT NEXT

For users on iOS iOS 9.2 and higher, if you do not support Universal Links, all users will be redirected to the fallback app store configured in the destination for your Smart Tag. Users can then open the app from the app store page. You can adopt Apple Universal Links and deliver a mapping to address this.
 
If you support Universal Links, you can update the fallback app store URL configured in the destination for your Smart Tag to the desired webpage URL. If a user has your app installed, Apple will redirect the user to the app page configured in your Universal Link mapping. It is important to note that if the user does not have the app installed, Apple will redirect the user to the configured webpage URL and not to the app store. Also this may impact your dynamic Smart Tag deeplinks if you are utilizing macros.
 
On all iOS versions before iOS 9.2, Smart Tags will continue to redirect your users to the correct destination inside the app if the app is installed. On iOS 9.2+ the behavior could vary depending on the level of support you have today for Universal Links, but in all scenarios the end user experience is not impacted adversely.  
 
Apsalar is actively working on a solution that simplifies enabling Universal Links for your applications and allows you to specify fallback app store URLs for Universal Links.
 
support@apsalar.com
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