Monday, October 05, 2015

Code Halos for Mobile Apps, iOS 9 Universal Links and Search

One of the new features in iOS 9 is Universal Links.  What is the significance, and what does it mean for mobile commerce and mobile apps in general?  Our resident mobile expert, Peter Rogers, shares the details with us here.  Enjoy!

Mobile & Digital Expert
Peter Rogers

Universal Links in iOS 9 are used for deep linking between applications (which is great for user experience) and in particular deep linking from websites to a mobile apps. This is quite similar to the notion of "Intents" in Android but it extends the concept to have a strong security model.

Apple has deemphasized the idea of "app searching" and replaced it with the more secure concept of Universal Links between Apps and Websites.

Search in iOS 9 effectively tries to rival Google, and offers a holistic search that covers both inside your app, and outside your app on the Internet. This is delivered through Spotlight and Safari search results, Handoff and Siri suggestions. You can decide what content gets indexed, what information to show in search results, which mobile apps show your search results, and where you get seamlessly transported to after clicking/touching a Universal link. 

There are private search indexes on-device, and an Apple server-side index for publicly available data. A CloudKitJS library is also offered to allow communication between the App and its Cloud based datastore. You can make your content searchable through NSUserActivity, the Core Spotlight Framework, Web Markup and Universal links. 

If we look at what this actually represents then you can see that each mobile app actually has a Code Halo of data that surrounds it. Code Halos are the data that accompanies people, organizations, mobile apps and devices.  A mobile app may be singular in its purpose and separated from other mobile apps now in iOS 9, but its sphere of influence is extended out through the Internet for the purpose of data exchange and searchability.

Suddenly the most valuable currency is data, be it app specific data or supporting website data. The Code Halo that surrounds the mobile app can radiate out from the app to the far reaches of the Internet.

Kevin Benedict
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.