Everyone uses links and bookmarks in their everyday lives. However, taking a dive into the mobile use of links, we discover two very different type–web links that provide content from the internet and the more complicated deep links within applications. Deep linking is the method of opening an application to specific pages or defined screens within it. While useful for the user, deep linking requires significant effort to adopt and it is extremely limited. But that might be about to change.
Microsoft Research is on the verge, yet again, of changing how users interact with mobile applications. In their recent publication, Microsoft Research is proposing the implementation of an application that can create links for other applications. This project, called uLink, is able to save any process that your applications have, then allows users to access it yet again from a simple list. uLink will even save applications that you have previously looked at automatically, letting you go back to search for something you forgot to bookmark.
The publication by Tanzirul Azim, Oriana Riva, and Suman Nath goes into more detail:
uLink is implemented as an application library, which transparently tracks data- and UI-event-dependencies of app pages, and encodes the information in links to the pages; when a link is invoked, the information is utilized to recreate the target page quickly and accurately. uLink also employs techniques, based on static and dynamic analysis of the app, that can provide feedback to users about whether a link may break in the future due to, e.g., modifications of external resources such as a file the link depends on.
uLink has already been implemented on Android and it’s been proven that there is very little developer effort to accommodate its features. It solves all the problems that developers will have with utilizing deep links and provides a more user-friendly experience with all compatible applications.
Read more about uLink on the research page.Further reading: app development, Developers, Microsoft, Microsoft Research