Deeplink.me, an open initiative which encourages app developers to embrace deep linking – that is, linking directly to content inside an application from anywhere on the web or mobile – is today rolling out support for Twitter Cards. This means app developers who don’t currently have a web presence are now able to take advantage of Twitter’s ability to point users to a specific page inside a mobile application from a tweeted link.
Twitter Cards are used by thousands of developers to post richer content to Twitter’s network, including article summaries, photos, videos, songs and more. And in April, the company added support for mobile app deep-linking, too, as a tool for app discovery and user engagement. With Twitter Cards, developers could tweet links pointing existing users to a page within the app on their phone, or if they didn’t have the app installed, they could be pointed to the app store to download the app in question instead.
However, the problem with the Twitter Cards implementation when it came to mobile app deep linking is that it required developers to also maintain a web presence in order to host the metatags Twitter required. For many mobile-only developers, especially game developers, this meant they weren’t able to take advantage of the Twitter Card feature.
“We realized that this is a quite an issue for a lot of app developers,” explains Cellogic CEO Itamar Weisbrod, whose company launched the mobile app deep linking service, Deeplink.me, earlier this summer. The service has now grown to support thousands of developers, too.
“We’re actually hosting all the metatags and the markup for [developers using Deeplink.me],” he says.
Today, developers interested in using the Deeplink.me service simply set up a URL scheme, define some translation rules, then route incoming URLs through Deeplink.me.
The service is free to use, and easy enough to set up which has encouraged its adoption, Weisbrod notes. Going forward, those developers who want to have the added benefit of using Twitter Cards won’t have to take any additional steps beyond signing up and creating their Deeplink.me links – Twitter Card support is built-in.
“The links hit us first and then because we’re handling which platform it’s on and passing the data along, it’s already hitting our servers,” says Weisbrod of the new Twitter Card support. “For each link, we’re dynamically inserting all the metadata that Twitter needs for this specific app on the fly.”
In other words, instead of having to establish a web presence for their app to use Twitter Cards, developers can just use Deeplink.me. When they then tweet a Deeplink.me link (which can also be masked behind a URL shortener if they choose), the tweet will display richer content, including the “open the app” button to point users to the app itself or the app store, if they’re not a user.
Many developers are already using Deeplink.me URLs, but Weisbrod doesn’t yet have permission to share these companies by name, only saying that the lineup includes several “large mobile gaming companies” and “mobile commerce companies.”
In the weeks ahead, the Deeplink.me service will be upgraded to support a few other options specific to Twitter Cards, like the ability to control the icon that displays and more. But in the meantime, interested developers can get started here.
Deeplink.me competes with things like URX and TapCommerce and more directly with Quixey’s AppURL initiative, which has a smaller list of supporters at present. Plus, Google also recently announced its intentions to surface Android app deep links in search, starting with Android KitKat (Android 4.4) – something that will force developers to start taking mobile app deep linking more seriously.
“We shifted into this mobile world without a proper link standard…and you need to be able to link to specific things in order to monetize properly, discover things, use things properly,” says Weisbrod. “Having to make your app linkable is like having to make your website linkable,” he adds.
[App Image: Deeplink.me]