With iOS 9, Apple made Spotlight search more important than ever before – not just for users, but also for developers. Now, with Spotlight search, Apple provides a brand new tool for them to acquire more users.

Here’s what you need to know…

How the new Spotlight works in iOS 9

Now, Spotlight surfaces:

  • content within apps already on your phone
  • apps in the app store, not already on your phone
  • content on the web

Imagine a user searches for an Airbnb apartment in Hamburg, Germany. Instead of tapping on Safari, waiting for it to open, then typing a search query (tedious!), the user simply swipes on her device’s home screen and instantly lands in Spotlight.

As she types “airbnb hamburg” into Spotlight’s search, Spotlight presents her with a list of suggested websites. These include links to properties in the city on Airbnb’s website.

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That makes Spotlight the perfect opportunity to let users directly discover your app, or lead them to your app from online content. But what do you need to do to ensure this happens as successfully as possible?

How to take advantage of Spotlight for growing your app

As a developer, you decide what content Spotlight indexes and shows in its search results. And as Apple states in the relevant developer documentation (scroll down to the section about search), it’s easy to get started.

Once Spotlight leads a user to your web content, use deep links and deferred deep links to make sure she has a great experience and easily finds the relevant content in the app on her iOS device. If the user already has the app installed, a deep link will lead her directly to the relevant content within the app.

Apple already integrated deep linking into iOS 9, as one major feature of the operating system’s new universal links (read our previous article to see if you need to worry about these). However, universal links don’t work as deferred deep links. So universal links fail when the user does not already have an app installed – unlike Yozio’s SuperLink.

How to delight new users with deferred deep links

If the user does not have the app installed, use a deferred deep link to ensure she still has a great first time experience. While universal links don’t work as deferred deep links, Yozio’s SuperLinks do.

With deferred deep links, the user taps a link on your website to download and use your app instead. The link takes her to the app’s page in the iOS App Store. After she installs and opens the app, she still lands on the relevant content. Now she can instantly continue to book her vacation to Germany, buy a product, or carry out any other transaction.

Universal links don’t allow deferred deep linking because they cannot pass information around the app store. However, Yozio’s SuperLink uses unique fingerprinting technology to identify the user and pass information about her around the app store. Then, when the user installs the app, she reaches the exact content that matches the search phrase entered into the Spotlight search.

Without SuperLinks, universal links drop users from Spotlight Search into the app …. as if the search never occurred.

Beyond iOS 9

Developing for Android, too? SuperLinks work across all Android and Apple devices, as well as older versions of both operating systems. So you can save yourself time and effort to customize deep links for different purposes by using just one simple tool. Plus, Yozio combines analytics from both Android and iOS from all your campaigns, installs and engagements into one simple dashboard.