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How to use vanity App Store short link URL

Apple recently (1/31/2013) updated their guide to creating App Store short links (aka Technical Q&A QA1633). We are all used to seeing long and usually incomprehensible urls that point to an application on the Apple App Store. In order to retrieve such direct links you had to use Apple’s LinkMaker Tool or extract them from the App Store itself.

As you can imagine this was a pain: long url, hard to find and ugly to see. More savvy marketers usually used shortening services such a bit.ly to cope with this. Luckily, things just got much better.

Examples

Now you are able to create and distribute official App Store short links. Not only are these human readable but they will also redirect the user to the appropriate App Store country.

Here’s a practical example: when I promote MyLyrics, one of the most successful apps on the App Store, I had to use this url: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mylyrics-app-to-find-song/id393781482?l=en&mt=8. Long. Ugly. Wasteful.

Now, I can simply write http://appstore.com/MyBookList (another awesome app).

This also works with developer/artist/company names: http://appstore.com/GiacomoBalli and mac apps: http://appstore.com/mac/cyberduck.

How to do it

The procedure to create your own App Store short links might seem a little complicated but it’s very logical and you could also easily create a script or plugin that takes care of it for you.

In order to find the App Store short link to your app you have to:

  • Remove all whitespace
  • Convert all characters to lower-case
  • Remove all copyright (©), trademark (™) and registered mark (®) symbols
  • Replace ampersands (“&”) with “and”
  • Remove most punctuation (!¡”#$%’()*+,\-./:;<=>¿?@[\]^_`{|}~)
  • Replace accented and other “decorated” characters (ü, å, etc.) with their elemental character (u, a, etc.)
  • Leave all other characters as-is.

Add the resulting string to the end of the URL prefix and you’re good to go.

These new App Store short links look so good you can even place them on ads and billboards.

Further info

In case there are multiple results the App Store will automatically show search results for the query used. Quite handy to be used directly for searching the App Store.

In addition, it’s a great incentive for companies and indie developers to use unique names in the app store.

Update: I’ve been reading on many “big” websites two erroneous statements and wish to clarify for everyone.

1) these are not pure vanity urls but just a redirect system. Unless you are submitting a new build, you will not be able to pick the short URL link to your app.

2) the redirect system has been in place and available for a long time. A couple days before the SuperBowl where, alas, the 49ers didn’t manage to come back, it was embellished.

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