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App Store devsugar: Browser-based previews and URL tricks


TUAW reader Gabby tipped us off this morning that Apple has expanded its new browser-based iTunes previews to include App Store offerings. Sure enough, I pasted a standard App Store URL for Apple's Remote application into Safari and was treated to the preview shown just above.

This new preview option is just one of many App Store URL tricks you may want to take advantage of. You can find some of the most useful tricks right after the break on this post. Got another URL trick for App Store? Let us know in the comments.

Direct App Links (and creating them proactively). Right-clicking (or Control-clicking) the application icon in an iTunes App Store listing allows you to copy a URL that provides direct access to your App Store listing. A typical link looks like this:

Notice the "id" portion of the URL. That id represents a unique iTunes product number. Also notice the "us" part. That refers to the store that this was linked from.

The application id represents the same product number that appears in iTunes Connect. Knowing this number allows you to construct a valid iTunes URL, even before your application goes live. Of course, the URL will not work until Apple green lights your application, but being able to build it proactively lets you create and distribute an iTunes URL safe in the knowledge that the URL will work on product launch.

To find your application's product number, log into iTunes Connect and open Manage Your Applications. Select any application and locate the Apple ID. It's found between the Version number and the Date Submitted. Prefix that number with id and substitute it into this URL scheme:
Notice that the application name, the store country, and the mt-8 parts are not required in the URL. This, for example, is a fully working URL:
"Artist" links. You can provide a direct link to a list of all your for-sale apps by using what iTunes calls Artist links. To retrieve yours, load any one of your applications. At the top of the iTunes page, you'll see a category hierarchy along the lines of
App Store > [Category, like Games] > Your Company Name.
Right-click and copy that link. This URL brings up an artist overview, showing all the apps you currently have in App Store. Mine looks like this:
and again, you can omit the country for a more universal URL like this:
It's a useful link to keep on-hand and use in your marketing materials.

Named links. When your application has a fairly unique name, you can use Apple's address scheme to offer natural-language-like access to software. For example,
provides direct access to my Ad Hoc Helper application. This does not, however, work for my super common app names. A link to
brings up a search page using "Poker" as a application name search.

A similar natural-named URL service is available from You provide an application name or a set of names separated by "+" characters. The site returns a natural-language style search link. As link-to-app is a third party service, your comfort levels may vary in using it.

Links to your review page. At times you may want to link directly to an application's review page, whether from the application itself or from your website, in order to encourage positive reviews. Apple's built-in "rate on delete" policy tends to skew reviews towards unhappy customers. Providing an in-app link for users who have launched your app for, say, the third or tenth time, can help counterbalance that trend.

A review page URL looks like this, consisting of an app id, a page number for the reviews to start from, and a sort ordering. Valid orderings are 0 or 1: Most Helpful, 2: Most Favorable, 3: Most Critical, and 4: Most Recent.
Just substitute your id in in place of 284417350. Notice that this does not use an id prefix before that number the way the direct app links do. To link from your application use a standard openURL: call, e.g.
[[UIApplication sharedApplication]
openURL:[NSURL URLWithString:yourApplicationReviewURL]]

Using iTunes affiliate links from applications. If you need to use affiliate links when connecting to iTunes or App Store from an application, Apple has you covered. Apple's Technical QA1629 shows you how to create an NSURLConnection that handles the affiliate redirection to create a affiliate-ready URL without using intermediate applications. That's really handy for anyone who needs to monetize their apps through commissions.

Thanks Raingrove

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