The Ultimate Guide to Universal Link Implementation in iOS – Everything You Need to Know



Introduction to Universal Link Implementation in iOS

Universal Links are a powerful feature in iOS that allow developers to create seamless links between their app and website. When a user taps on a Universal Link, it can automatically open the corresponding app if it’s installed on their device, or redirect them to the website if the app is not installed.

There are several benefits to using Universal Links in your iOS app:

  • Enhanced user experience: Universal Links provide a seamless transition between your app and website, improving the overall user experience.
  • Higher conversions: By directing users to the appropriate content within your app, Universal Links can increase conversions and drive user engagement.
  • Deep linking capabilities: Universal Links enable deep linking, allowing users to be directed to specific screens or content within your app.
  • Improved discoverability: When your app is associated with Universal Links, it becomes discoverable in search results and other apps.

Setting up Universal Link Support in iOS

To enable Universal Link support in your iOS app, you’ll need to go through a few steps:

Enabling Associated Domains

The first step is to enable Associated Domains for your app. This involves generating and adding an entitlement file to your Xcode project:

  1. Generate the entitlement file: In Xcode, go to your app target’s Signing & Capabilities tab, enable Associated Domains, and click the + button to add a new domain.
  2. Add the entitlement file: Follow the prompts to generate the entitlement file, and ensure it’s included in your app’s build settings.

Creating an Apple App Site Association file

The next step is to create an Apple App Site Association (AASA) file, which specifies your app’s domains and supported paths:

  1. Specify your app’s domains and paths: In the AASA file, define the domains and paths that should be associated with your app. This tells iOS which links should be handled by your app.
  2. Validate the AASA file: Use the AASA validator tool provided by Apple to ensure that your AASA file is properly formatted and valid.

Configuring your website for Universal Links

Finally, you’ll need to configure your website to support Universal Links:

  1. Add the AASA file to the server: Upload the AASA file to the root directory of your website, so that it can be accessed by iOS devices.
  2. Validate the AASA file: Similar to the previous step, use the AASA validator tool to validate the AASA file on your server.

Implementing Universal Links in your iOS app

Once you’ve set up Universal Link support, you’ll need to implement the logic in your iOS app to handle Universal Links:

Handling Universal Links in AppDelegate

In your AppDelegate class, you’ll need to implement the application(_:continue:restorationHandler:) method to handle Universal Links:

func application(_ application: UIApplication, continue userActivity: NSUserActivity, restorationHandler: @escaping ([UIUserActivityRestoring]?) -> Void) -> Bool { // Handle the Universal Link and navigate to the appropriate screen return true }

Parsing and extracting data from Universal Links

Depending on your app’s requirements, you may need to parse and extract data from the Universal Link to perform specific actions:

if let link = userActivity.webpageURL { // Parse and extract data from the Universal Link // Perform necessary actions based on the extracted data }

Navigating to specific screens in your app using Universal Links

Universal Links can be used to navigate to specific screens or sections within your app:

if let link = userActivity.webpageURL { // Determine the screen or destination based on the Universal Link // Navigate to the appropriate screen or section within your app }

Testing and troubleshooting Universal Link implementation

Testing and troubleshooting your Universal Link implementation is crucial to ensure a smooth user experience:

  • Test on actual devices: Test your Universal Links on actual iOS devices to ensure they behave as expected.
  • Handle edge cases: Test edge cases and fallback scenarios, such as when the app is not installed or the user doesn’t have internet connectivity.
  • Follow Apple’s guidelines: Ensure your Universal Link implementation follows Apple’s guidelines and best practices.

Best practices for Universal Link implementation

Implementing Universal Links using best practices can help optimize the user experience and ensure smooth functionality:

Handling edge cases and fallback scenarios

Plan for edge cases and fallback scenarios, such as when the user doesn’t have the app installed or the Universal Link doesn’t work as expected:

  • Fallback to the website: Provide a fallback option to redirect users to the website if the app is not installed.
  • Provide feedback: Display user-friendly messages or notifications to inform users about the app installation requirements.
  • Handle errors gracefully: Handle any errors or exceptions that may occur during Universal Link handling, and provide appropriate error messages.

Creating a graceful user experience when handling Universal Links

Ensure that the transition between your app and website is seamless and provides a consistent user experience:

  • Customize the user interface: Design the user interface transition to align with your app’s branding and visual identity.
  • Consider user preferences: Respect user preferences for opening links, such as opening them within Safari or the default browser instead of the app.
  • Provide clear navigation: Include navigation elements within your app to allow users to easily navigate back to the website or other sections of the app.

Ensuring proper deep linking behavior

Deep linking is an important aspect of Universal Link implementation. Ensure that deep links within your app work correctly:

  • Handle different deep link scenarios: Account for different deep link scenarios, such as deep links from push notifications, email campaigns, or other sources.
  • Associate deep links with Universal Links: Link deep links to the corresponding Universal Links to provide a seamless experience between the app and website.
  • Test deep linking functionality: Test the deep linking functionality within your app to ensure it works as expected and directs users to the appropriate content.

Advanced topics in Universal Link implementation

Once you’ve mastered the basics of Universal Link implementation, you can explore advanced topics and features:

Handling Universal Links in multiple apps

If you have multiple apps that handle Universal Links, you’ll need to handle link attribution and decide which app should be opened:

  • Unique URL schemes: Use unique URL schemes for each app to differentiate and handle Universal Links correctly.
  • Link attribution logic: Implement a link attribution logic to determine which app should handle a specific Universal Link based on certain criteria.
  • Shared app targets: Use shared app targets in Xcode to ensure consistent handling of Universal Links across multiple apps.

Universal Link measurement and analytics

Measuring the effectiveness of your Universal Link implementation can help you understand user behavior and optimize your app:

  • Track Universal Link usage: Implement analytics tools to track how users engage with Universal Links and which pages or features are most popular.
  • Measure conversions: Measure the conversion rates from Universal Links to app installations or specific actions taken within your app.
  • Optimize user journeys: Analyze user behavior and make data-driven decisions to improve the user journey and increase app engagement.

Universal Link security considerations

Ensure that your Universal Link implementation follows security best practices and protects user data:

  • Secure communication: Implement secure communication protocols, such as HTTPS, for your website and app to protect user data during Universal Link handling.
  • Secure deep linking: Securely handle deep linking scenarios to prevent unauthorized access or manipulation of sensitive data within your app.
  • Handle privacy concerns: Address privacy concerns and clearly communicate how Universal Links handle user data in your app’s privacy policy.


Implementing Universal Links in your iOS app can greatly enhance the user experience and drive engagement. By seamlessly connecting your app and website, you can provide a consistent and intuitive journey for your users.

In this blog post, we’ve covered the basics of Universal Link implementation, including setting up support in iOS, handling Universal Links in your app, best practices, and advanced topics. By following these guidelines and considering the user experience, you can create a seamless and efficient Universal Link implementation for your iOS app.

Now, it’s time to apply these concepts and take your app to the next level with Universal Links!


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