Failure to open the links in iOS 9.3
Many users (including me and some of my friends) are faced with the fact that the links in the mail and messages do not work as well as some links in Safari; for example, Google search results can not be opened. Long press on a broken link leads to damage of the application, while clicking on the highlighted are as usual, leads to nothing.
Some users have reported this problem in 9.2.1 version, but it became widespread only when the version 9.3 has been released on 21 March 2016.
What is happening
On iOS 9, Apple introduced the feature called “Universal links.” They allow mobile application developers to connect their applications through the link. For example, following a link to the Guardian article will open the article in the Guardian in the application and not on their website.
Developers place on their website the compatible file containing a list of URL links that could be openned with the application. When you install an application, iOS downloads the file and updates your own database, adding the links that can be opened by your application set. Website and application specified in iTunes, linked by the developer – so it does not give anyone the right to substitute your website with their application.
When you click on a link, the system searches the database of supported URL the links that can be opened by your application. If those are not available, it opens in the standard application, ie, in the browser.
Why there was a breakdown
It seems that there is a bug in iOS, which completely disables the “Universal links”, if the resulting compatibility file is too large.
Benjamin Mayo from 9to5mac noticed that the installation of the Booking.com application broke their test devices, prompting Steve Trogtona-Smith (who else would) to check their compatibility file:
“Steve T-S: booking.com added virtually every URL, which they had, in compatibility file. 2.3 MB to download.”
It turns out that the large size of the file, because it contains every URL from their site, breaks iOS database on the mobile device. Apple has the ability to search for tags, so that instead of adding the URL of each hotel, Booking.com could just add / hotel / *, to mark all hotels on their website.
While Booking.com were not very rational, yet it is not their fault that the third party can break such a basic system function, such as looking on the web pages. Apple had to foresee such an outcome.
The worst thing – the removal of the application does not clear the database of supported URL. Due to the fact that the OS process that is responsible for the work of “Universal links” goes down, you can not delete the damaged database.
Path to avoide the problem
Some users have been able to resolve this issue by using a complex sequence of reboots:
«Rosyna Keller: Run in such sequence. Reload this, download the app, turn on “the aircraft regime”, open the application, restart it, remove the application, shut down “the aircraft regime”.
Another solution is due to the fact that Booking.com may change its compatibility file (update – they changed, but it does not help if you’re face a problem). However, this is a bad decision, because it will work as long as any other application is not disrupting the process. The only possible fix in the long run is an update from Apple.