Websites have a sophisticated capability to link their specific pages and connect comfortably with other services. However, the concept gets a bit complicated when it comes to mobile applications. On the latter, creating deep links for future navigation requires a lot of effort from developers and is still a rare sight on smartphone ecosystems. However, Microsoft’s Research lab has devised something which can ease the process and make our lives better. They are calling it, uLink.


uLink is basically a mechanism and app library that allows users or developers to bookmark particular app pages or screens just like bookmarking a webpage. For instance, imagine browsing through a list of restaurants and there’s one, in particular, you would like to save for future reference, uLink’s initial implementation will let you save that page with merely a shake. Later, you can hit that saved shortcut on the uLink app to directly navigate there instead of tapping a bunch of links all over again. Most modern applications do feature this ability by default under the title “favorites” but for those who don’t, developers can add considerably fewer lines of codes for uLink support. Additionally, these app shortcuts can be shared with friends on another device.

The algorithm uLink utilizes is written to constantly index user activities, events or actions. As a result, as of now, it can’t record gestures like swipes or pinches. Moreover, in certain scenarios, screen’s coordinates will be stored, hence, sharing won’t be possible in some cases unless they have the same phone. As uLink is continuously storing movements, users can benefit from a feature called “Stuff-I’ve-Seen” that essentially caches your entire links’ history. The Redmond giant hasn’t addressed the obvious privacy issues uLink brings but they’re aware of them and are working on optional encryption policies.

The concept does look substantial enough to succeed, however, Microsoft hasn’t announced when it’s going to make it available. The team currently has tested uLink with about 34 of the thousand most downloaded Android apps along with IFTTT integration. It all boils down to how developers or even Microsoft itself shapes the library. Furthermore, there’s also the possibility of Google fabricating a less painful way to operate deep links on Android. Take a look at the video below to get a better idea.

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Shubham is based out of Ahmedabad, India and is studying to be a Computer Engineer, while specializing in mobile applications. He loves covering what's new in the smartphone space and aims to make it his primary profession some day.