Traditional HTTP URLs can navigate to websites, but not to apps. Mobile deep linking fixes this problem by enabling links to install, open, and pass data into your app, allowing you to build a continuous, seamless user experience. This will help improve your conversion rate, as well as the engagement of your app.
This is part of a blog series on deep linking in Unity, deep linking in React Native, and deep linking in Xamarin for iOS and Android.
How Does Deep Linking Work
Deep linking into your app is made possible by internal functionalities of the device’s operating system. After configuring your app for deep linking, both iOS and Android will allow users to navigate into your app using a custom URI Scheme like my-app-scheme://data=123. Early deep linking systems worked by wrapping these custom URI scheme links inside a standard http:// or https:// link, and then using the device’s web browser to redirect users back to your app.
Android has also implemented a way to open the app directly with a method called App Links. App Links behave very similarly to Apple’s Universal Links: you will need to host a special file on your link domain (for example https://branchster.app.link/.well-known/assetlinks.json), as well as have custom methods in your app to interpret the App Link. However, unlike iOS, Android still supports URI scheme deep linking.
Once deep linking is configured, all three methods of deep linking (URI schemes, Universal Links, App Links) will give your users a better experience as they can easily enter your app from deep links they find on the web.
What Unity Packages Enable Deep Linking
Fortunately, you don’t have to set up all of this yourself and pay for hosting and traffic fees—the Unity platform has a variety of plugins that help with the technical configuration.
|DeepLink Plugin||Unity Deeplinks||Branch|
|Supports latest Unity version||√||√||√|
|Handles URI Scheme linking ||√||√||√|
|Handles iOS Universal Links ||√||√|
|Handles Android App Links ||√||√|
|Hosts AASA and assetlinks files ||√|
|Passes any custom data from deep link into app||√|
|Tracks install attribution||√|
|Tracks deep link analytics with a dashboard||√|
|Tracks users and custom events||√|
|Has user referral program with credit tracking||√|
|Enables you to create and share deep links inside the app||√|
|Supports desktop to app deep linking ||√|
|Supports linking in social media and ad platforms||√|
|Supported by a full-time integration team||√|
URI Schemes will open the app, but cannot pass data discreetly.
URI Schemes have been deprecated and replaced by Universal Links after iOS 9.2.
Android App Links allow for direct app opens without needing to open the browser first.
The AASA and assetlinks files are needed for Universal Links and App Links to work.
Made possible with Branch’s free Text Me The App, Journeys, and Deep View features.
How to Deep Link with Branch
While all of these plugins help configure your app project, Branch also does all the heavy lifting of remote server configuration for you. Branch’s SDK uses a simple prefab script that compile and configure your app to prepare it for deep linking in both Android and iOS. Additionally, Branch’s Dashboard configures your links and domain files according to your customizations and industry standards.
All you have to do is set up your Branch Dashboard and spend a few minutes configuring your app settings. That’s it. Integration complete. Deep linking enabled. Then, you’ll be able to create and share deep links based on your campaigns and content, and watch your app grow as your users become more engaged. Click here to request a Branch demo, and click here to start deep linking with Branch!
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