In mobile app development, deep linking means using a uniform resource identifier (URI) that links to a specific point within an app. This makes it possible to bring users into a precise location instead of simply launching the app. For example, when a user gets an email with a button to see a status change in the app, tapping this button will direct them to a particular screen displaying this change.
From the user’s perspective, a URI in a mobile app is a counterpart to a uniform resource locator (URL) on a website. However, technically they are different. While URI is an identifier of a resource (such as a page, a document, etc), a URL is a type of identifier that also tells you how to access it (such as HTTPS, FTP, etc). Thus, all URLs are URIs, but not all URIs are URLs.
Web links (URLs) follow a standardized format based on HTTP guidelines. For mobile deep links (URIs), there is no consistent format. The URI format often depends on the operating system (OS) of the device. To access the same app on a different OS, there is a need for different sets of links. This is why deep linking is more complicated for mobile apps than websites.
Deferred deep linking
In the context of mobile apps, also deferred deep linking is possible. Broadly, it stands for deep linking into an app that is not yet installed. In such cases, deep linking will be postponed until the installation is complete. From the user perspective, clicking a deferred deep link takes them first to the App Store or Google Play to download the app. Once it is done, the newly installed app opens from a specific location. Deferred deep linking makes it possible to deliver a seamless user experience. This helps improve conversion rates and customer retention.