Mobile

Imagine a web without URLs. That's what the mobile app world looks like now

LinkedIn's Joff Redfern gives a shout-out to LinkedIn users, at MobileBeat, July 8, 2014. On the right: Cnet's Ian Sherr.

Above: LinkedIn's Joff Redfern gives a shout-out to LinkedIn users, at MobileBeat, July 8, 2014. On the right: Cnet's Ian Sherr.

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

SAN FRANCISCO — We might be shifting to mobile, but making arsenals of apps work seamlessly is still a challenge.

For example: Suppose your company has several different apps for different purposes, and you want to send a customer from one app to a specific screen within another app — without making them log in a second time.

Right now, that requires building your own custom cross-linking library, says LinkedIn vice president of mobile Joff Redfern.

At this year’s MobileBeat conference, Redfern chatted with CNET’s Ian Sherr about LinkedIn’s mobile strategy. The company now has six different apps, the newest being its Job Search app, and has to juggle them all.

Unlike the Web, where there is hyperlinking, switching from app to app has not been fully worked out yet, according to Redfern, although the company is working on it.

Redfern admitted the company’s cross-linking library is not perfect, but it’s a start, especially since this whole idea is relatively new.

Ideally, he said, it should be done at the operating system level.

“We believe that it should work more like an a la carte menu,” said Redfern.  Just like Microsoft’s Office suite of tools, LinkedIn wants its own professional tools (read: apps) to work together and feel cohesive.

For LinkedIn and app developers like it, there is some hope. For instance, Facebook in April launched its App Links tool, which lets mobile app developers link their apps to one another (or to create links within web pages that lead to specific apps). Similarly, Google in June announced a way to tie web apps and native apps together with its App Indexing API.

But so far, these deep linking solutions are limited in that they don’t work across all devices and mobile platforms. The reasons for that have to do with the way mobile platform creators — starting with Apple — set up their app stores to be separate from the open web. Now app developers are starting to run into the limitations of that “walled garden” approach.

For LinkedIn’s Redfern, continuity is key, not only between apps, but between devices.

“I really appreciate that I can watch something [on Netflix] in my living room…. Then go upstairs in bed and pull out my tablet” and continue watching, said Redfern.

Today, about 43 percent of LinkedIn’s member traffic comes from mobile, up from about 8 percent back when Redfern joined the company in 2009.

 

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