Stefano Pisoni
Stefano Pisoni 17 March 2020

Deep Link vs. Universal Link: Which One is Better?

Are universal link and deep link the same thing? There are some big differences, let's understand them.

Obviously, they are not the same, although there is still a lot of confusion regarding the topic.

And it is also impossible to define which of the two is better. Both have quality and customised systems to better adapt to certain needs.

Let's start by defining the difference between the two.

What is the difference between deep link and universal link?

There aren't many differences between universal links and deep links.

Universal links are a technology specially created by Apple to adapt deep linking to their devices.

According to Apple, universal links are safer and more performing for their needs. Universal links have been implemented since iOS 9 Version and have replaced the normal Deep links.

Universal links have functions very similar to deep links; they differ only in these aspects:

- Deep links use the URI Scheme
- Universal links do not have redirects.
- Universal links are a series of web pages to in-app locations.

For this reason, when a user clicks a universal link, the iOS system redirects the user to the corresponding app page (if installed on the device). In this way the user will view the web page directly from his app, improving the browsing experience.

Despite this implementation, universal Links did not replace deep links using the URI scheme.


Deep link vs. universal link: the most common errors associated with universal links.

Universal links are powerful, but unfortunately they don't work everywhere yet. Universal links can easily be broken and be disabled! If this happens the user will always be redirected to the website URL until they upgrade their app or reset.

Universal will not work if you paste the link into the browser URL field.

Universal links don't work when entered into Safari. If you copy & paste a deep link into the browser address bar, it will not work.

Universal links are really useful but only if you have already downloaded and installed the app on your device.

Universal Links cannot be triggered via Javascript, unless it happens in the same user action.

Deep Link Vs Universal Link: Joturl’s Solution

JotUrl simplifies the process to enable Android app links (the equivalent of universal links, but for Android) and iOS Universal Links, thanks to a dedicated web interface, and allows you to deep link also when the user doesn't have your app installed, providing you deferred deep linking and attribution thanks to a proprietary technology which leverages a combination of universal links, app links, custom URI schemes and other internally developed tech stuff.

One of the features of Joturl is called app deep link, it has been specifically designed to improve deep linking on all kinds of devices.

By associating this additional option with a tracking link, you can set up your link as you wish to adapt it to your every need.

You can manage the settings for Android, Desktop and iOS and create the customised solution that best suits you. Joturl allows you to associate your deep linking configuration with your personal branded domain, offering you the opportunity to improve views and conversions!

Apps with built-in webviews (Google, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, etc.) work with Universal Links only when a webview is already open.

In other words, universal inks could not work in-app from the feed or main app views.

To work around this limitation, your tracking links must have an app deep link option enabled and a destination URL that has a universal link behind it.

In this way you can solve the problem and use deep linking more effectively!

Deferred Deep Links

A deferred deep link is a deep link that opens to a specific location within the app, after a user first installs and opens the app on her / his device, or when the app is installed and you have configured the Android App Links / iOS Universal Links.

Get everything you need about deferred deep links flows, attribution of the installations, setup of your custom domains for your deep links, passing parameters within deep links, securing your calls, and much more within the dedicated article on our Help Center.

Ready to become a deep linking expert?

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash

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