Android App Links are Google’s response to Apple’s introduction of Universal Links. They are available only on Android Marshmallow (6.0) and later versions. They are HTTP URLs that can be used to link to content inside a native app if it is installed on the device.
For example, you have the URL (https://example.com/product/red-shoes) and the same content is also available on your native app. If the user clicks this link on an Android device and App Links are properly configured, the link will open the content on the native app if it’s installed, but would otherwise open the URL in the browser. This is a great experience for your user who has already invested in downloading the app and deserves a better native experience.
Android App Links are essentially identical to Universal Links on iOS, and have the same two major limitations:
- You must have a functional mobile website to fall back gracefully if the user does not have the app
- There are no built-in deferred deep linking capabilities
To get started with Android App Links, you need to set up intent filters, add code to handle the incoming URLs, and make an association between your website and your app. Here is a great guide on how to set up Android App Links.
Also, keep in mind that you cannot depend completely on Android App Links for deep linking, especially if you support Android versions below 6.0. You’ll also need to implement URI schemes and Chrome Intents.